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.