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I recently read this scenario out a book called, “Fusion”.  It’s all about getting visitors and keeping them.  This is the best case scenario for a visitor coming to the church.

“Jon and his family drive into the parking lot of the church and are immediately impressed by what they see.  The building though not large or even new, is obviously well cared for, right down to the lawn.  Everyone is entering through the main front door, where a nice-looking couple about Jon and Liz’s age is speaking warmly to each person and handing him or her some kind of program.  (You might call it a bulletin, but since Jon and Liz are unchurched, they are more likely to think of it as a program.)  Once through the front door themselves, where they are welcomed with a smile and a “Glad you are here,” Liz immediately spots two signs telling her exactly what she needs to know: One points the way to the restroom that her four-year-old urgently needs, and the other points toward the child-care area.  After stop number one, Jon, Liz and the kids check the child-care sign again and start in the direction it’s pointing.  A volunteer spots them and offers to lead them directly to the right place for each of their children.  When the kids have been dropped off, Jon notices the smell of coffee and donuts wafting towards him.  He turns to discover a table piled with Krispy Kreme boxes, fruit and coffee.  He and Liz exchange pleasantly surprised glances, and then each grab a donut and a cup of coffee and start timidly toward one of the aisles.  Immediately, another volunteer pops up and directs them to two open seats. “

Wouldn’t it be amazing if every visitor could have an experience like this?  I would even be impressed if 1 out of 50 visitors had this kind of perfect experience.  Do we have this goal in mind?  I cannot help but think of the growth in churches if every interaction with visitors went like this.

Have you ever had a perfect visiting experience like this?

Have you ever helped a visitor have an experience like this?

While I was reading this I answered those two questions myself, and I began to wonder if my experiences as a guest truly shape how I interact with guests.  Do my experiences affect how I treat a new visitor at my church?  On Sunday mornings do I remember what it was like to be a visitor?

I am afraid that I do not.  I am afraid that on Sunday mornings I get busy and in a church groove which prevents me from noticing visitors and thinking about how they feel.

This scenario should be the goal, but it will not happen without intentional actions of the congregation to make sure that it does.

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“Aiming at everyone guarantees that you have targeted no one.”

Defining a target market is very important to church marketing.  Like this quote says, if you do not know who you want to reach, then you won’t reach anyone.

A target market by definition is, “A particular market segment at which a marketing campaign is focused.”

In my opinion, any way that you try to bring people into your church is a marketing campaign.  You are trying to “sell” them your product.  In order to do that you have to get them interested.  The way to do that is through marketing.

It is important to know your target market because that can change and influence your marketing campaign.  If my church is trying to reach 20-30 year olds, I am not going to send them written letters in the mail.  That won’t impress them and get them to come to the church.

It is very hard to effectively reach every single age group.  A church needs to have a target market.  Don’t feel bad if you aren’t the church for every age group, because not every church will (or should) have the same target market

I love these Liberty Mutual commercials.  Everyone is always talking about how great and inspiring they are, but why?

These commercials are good because they are unusual.  We remember these commercials because they shock us, they are different.  But is that right?

As Christians aren’t we called to this lifestyle of good deeds daily?

Just think about this:  what if every Christian did only one good deed a day, then what would our world look like?  How would our world be affected?  Then, would this commercial really seem so amazing to us?

This commercial shows the chain after one good thing is done.  Good deeds are contagious.
So let us spread the infection.

New, big churches are scary, especially when you are nervous to begin with.  I went to a new church yesterday that runs about 2000 people on a Sunday.   I had been in the church building before yesterday, but had never been to a service.  Let me tell you, it was intimidating, and I knew where I was going.  I got there at 10:10 just to be sure I was not late.  I walked in ( I was not greeted by anyone) and stood by the offices waiting for the person I was to meet to come down after class.  I stood there in the big, open, bustling lobby for 20 minutes without anyone saying one word to me.  Talk about a first impression.

I recently read a quote by Jill Bremer and she said, “Impressions are based on instinct and emotion, not on rational thought or in-depth investigation.”  My first impression of the church in those first few minutes that I was standing there was, “Wow, they’re too busy to even notice.”  Now, that was, like the quote said, completely based on emotions.  In that moment I was scared and intimidated and glued to my spot because that was where I was safe.  I stood there while people walked back and forth and did not give me a second look.  Later, I was introduced to several people who were genuinely quite welcoming.  But unfortunately, I now have an opinion of the church based on my own impressions.

This may have just been an off Sunday for the greeters, but people still visit on off-Sundays.  I do not hold anything against the people I am working with or even the church in general.   If anything it gives me an insight that they probably do not have.  After discussions with the ministers I have found that they truly are very guest focused, and I hope to help that even further.  I wish that ministers could walk into their church and experience what a visitor feels like, but that would be hard without an elaborate disguise.  It was a very interesting first Sunday, but hopefully I can learn from it and ultimately help to make the number of off-Sundays diminish.

Revelation 3:16—The Message—“I know you inside and out, and find little to my liking. You’re not cold, you’re not hot—far better to be either cold or hot! You’re stale. You’re stagnant. You make me want to vomit.”

Is this what God is saying?

Is God thinking this about us?

I fear that churches today has become mediocre.  And we are mediocre in our response to church.  When was the last time we screamed for joy, at the top of our lungs at the amazing glory and majesty of God?  When was the last time we stopped in awe?  Is religion the spark of our lives?

Just think:  if we are mediocre Christians and we respond to our religion in mediocre ways, what is that saying about our God?  Are we portraying our God in a bad way through our mediocre responses?  Have we taken away the awe of God?  I fear that we have made God’s majesty mediocre.  If visitors see mediocre Christians, then what is the draw?  I want us to be passionate and to share that passion with others so much so that it is contagious and the only thing that passion can do is spread.

How do we respond to our God?  Do we respond to God alone, giving Him praise no matter who is around or is our response restrained for fear of looking like a passionate Christian?

Service of a congregation propels church growth.  A church cannot grow if a church is not behind it 300%.  You can only send out so many flyers, put up so many ads.  Real change begins when the people (the true church) get out and evangelize and represent their church and serve.  Serving in the children’s area makes it better, you form connections, and it will grow.  The church member that serves by mowing the lawn is helping the church grow.  They make sure the church looks presentable and that the best face of the church is put forward.  No service is too small.  I talked the other day about the parking lot being expanded and redone at my church, well today I went out and helped.  When I was helping, I knew that this parking lot was going to help the church grow.  In service, we increase the chances that our church will grow.  A congregation fuels growth through its acts of service.  A church without an active and serving congregation will not grow, it might not even survive.

Something I see happening more and more in churches is the separation between adults and the youth.  Very often there is a specific youth church and the youth is not integrated into “big church”.

I know that there are several youth groups that struggle getting youth sponsors, and I believe that this is because of this separation between the youth and adults of the church.  Oftentimes if adults do not see the youth of a church interacting and being a part of the church, then they will be less inclined to be involved and active in the youth group.  Also, if the youth is not active with the adults, then who are they going to look up to as mentors?

I think that when there is integration between youth church and adult church, then that creates a healthier church more prone to growth.  I have learned many things from people older than me and also those younger than me.  We can learn from each other.  Each person and age group has a unique perspective and can help you see something you have not thought of before, and that can encourage growth and change.

I would rather see us come together than encourage further separation.

Progress takes baby steps.

Little steps at a time toward the ultimate goal.

What is one thing your church could do now that will be a small step to growth?

A new website?

New signs in the building?

Upgrades to the children’s facilities?

Sometimes one thing can start the ball rolling, just give it a push and see where it goes.

A book that I have been reading on and off about church marketing said that even your parking lot can give people a perception of your church.  I have been away at college for a few months, and I got a sweet surprise when I drove to church this morning.  The church had started to add on to their parking lot, and it is definitely needed.  The parking lot has been overcrowded and a maze to park in sometimes.  I thought about how a visitor would view the parking lot and its changes.

If I was a visitor who went to visit my church before the parking lot expansion, I might have thought it was too packed to even bother visiting.  Overcrowded parking lots can be overwhelming.  And also when the parking lot is packed, visitors oftentimes have to park far away.  I think that churches show priority for visitors when they leave space for them by the door, like they are the most honored guest.

If I were a visitor now, with the church expanding the parking lot and refinishing it, I would see growth.  I would see that this is a church that people want to attend.  I would be more eager to visit that church.  So I am hopeful to see the direction that my church is going and I hope it will bring positive growth.

Next week I will be at a new church, in Kenosha, Wisconsin for an internship, and I am looking forward to the new environment and chance to learn.