It takes a lot of hard work to get new people to come to church. But, once we get someone new to attend our church, it requires even more intentionality and hard work to get someone new to return.
How do we create an environment where God is greatly glorified and visitors incredibly welcome? How do we strike a balance between not taking ourselves too seriously and relying on the Holy Spirit but also doing our best to eliminate any distractions that may get in the way of an attendee having a great experience?
While we will continue to wrestle with these questions, there are some things churches are doing that I think churches should stop doing. While some of these are subjective and indeed my own opinion, I don’t think I’m alone on most of these. So here’s my list…what do you think churches should stop doing?
1. Eliminate the Pastor’s parking spot.
Unless it’s for handicapped reasons, we should reserve the best spots for our visitors.
2. Not allowing coffee in the sanctuary/worship center.
It’s time to treat our church members like they should be treated. The worst thing that could happen would be someone would spill their coffee, and then we would have to clean it later. That’s not too bad of a worst-case scenario.
3. Misspell words on screens.
I don’t care how engaged I am in service; if I notice an error, I’m always distracted. If I’m distracted, others are too.
4. Conclude your message 5 times.
The pastor should say “In conclusion” only once in a message. It’s disingenuous and feels unprepared if there are multiple endings to the same message.
5. Keep the “Free Gift” to visitors a secret.
In exchange for new visitor information, many churches will offer a free gift to the visitor. Rather than saying the generic “free gift,” I personally would like to know what I would be getting in advance. Side note, if you aren’t saying what the gift is because you don’t think it’s enticing or valuable enough, it’s probably time to rethink what you are giving away.
6. Force guests to “stand out” publicly.
While we should provide an opportunity for those who are new and want to begin making connections, forcing someone new to stand up during announcements, wear a name tag, or identify themselves in some other way will make many feel awkward.
7. Shame your visitors.
This especially happens to the CEOs (Christmas and Easter Only Crowd). Rather than shaming them for not coming, extend a heartfelt welcome to come back. Focus your services and church around being friendly, welcoming, and encouraging of your guests. If you try hard all year to get new visitors, and then they actually come, why would you shame them for coming?
8. Make visitors guess where to go.
It’s a big step for someone new to come to your church. Some of the visitors that come to your church have never been to a church before, or maybe even were prayed over for years before they stepped foot in your church. Therefore, your signage should be evident on where restrooms are located, where the children’s ministry is, where to go if it is your first time, where to get questions answered, etc.
9. Pray in the “King James Version.”
There is incredible beauty in the words of the most popular version of the Bible. While it is perfectly acceptable to read and translate this version of the Bible, our speech should resemble the language we would use today, not the one that was used 400+ years ago. Unless your day-to-day dialogue is filled with King James Version, your prayers shouldn’t be either. Switching from one conversation mode to this “old” style feels inauthentic.
10. Run out of time in your message.
When a preacher regularly plans a multi-point sermon but only gets through one point and then rushes through the other points, it smacks of being unprepared. If preaching is your craft, work on it, practice, and don’t let Sunday morning be the first time you’ve spoken the sermon aloud.
Trust me. I understand how hard it is to be in ministry. Pastors and church leaders do so many things right that I would hate for one of these small things churches should stop doing to turn into a reason for someone not wanting to come back to your church.
So what can you do to help your church grow? If you’d like an assist, I’ve created an ebook called “10 Ways to Grow Your Church for Little to No Money.” You can find it here, and as my gift to you, enter the code “pastorgift” at checkout, and it’s yours for FREE. Thanks, pastors, for what you do!