During the first quarter when I was on sabbatical from my church, I visited 15 other churches. I am a firm believer that leaders need to be continual learners; and you can learn from anybody! Sometimes it’s what to do, sometimes what not to do, but if you have a teachable spirit, you can learn something. I learned a lot of things during my visits, but I want to share four big ones with you today.
1. It is VERY obvious when a church is ready for and expecting guests, and when they are not.
This should be (and will be) a whole separate post, but let me just say that as a guest, I can tell when you’re expecting me. One of the churches I visited had a First Impressions team and system in place that was outstanding – the best I’ve ever seen. Another one… not so much. They acted surprised that I had come and didn’t really know what to do with me. Ouch.
2. Parking is important.
Self explanatory I hope, but if there’s not adequate parking, and I’m driving around and around and around, that’s not a great sign that you’re expecting guests. A principle I’ve taught to small group leaders is to always have an empty chair in the room when your group meets. That way, if a guest comes in a little late, there’s no awkwardness of them not having a chair. Rest assured, they won’t be back. It also serves as a reminder to the people in the group that we’re always expecting guests – a great thing to keep in mind.
3. Signage is even more important.
One church I went to didn’t have clear signage on what door to enter in for the service. I went to one door – locked. Another door – locked. Finally I saw someone going in a third door, and I went in that one with them. Nothing wrong with locking doors you want people not to go in, but put a sign on it! And maybe even direct them to the right door 🙂
4. A variety of teaching styles, music genres, and models can all be used to communicate the message of Jesus.
I went to uber traditional churches, uber contemporary churches, and everything in between. Methodist, Baptist, Episcopal, non-denominational, Calvinist, Armenian – and you know what? All of them worshipped God. All of them talked about Jesus. And in all of them, I worshipped. Some more easily than others – I do have preferences just like you do – but if you focus on the content and the heart, all that other stuff can take a back seat if you work at it.
Have you been to a church other than your regular one lately? What did you notice that others could learn from?