5 Assumptions Your Church Should Make to Serve Guests Better

Guest Post: Brett Bixby

There’s no guarantee that a first time guest will visit your church this week, but if they do, will you prepared to receive them? One of the biggest mistakes small town churches make is not preparing with guests in mind. We can’t afford to make that mistake. Our mission is much too important. So, I’d like to share with you a training we did with our teams, that you can take and share with yours.

  1. Assume there will be guests every week
  • We do what we do in guest services under this assumption every single week.
  • We are glad everyone feels welcomed and accepted each week, however, we do guest services for the person or family that arrives for the very first time.
    • Everyone knows where to park – but not the first-time guest
    • Everyone can open the door on their own – but for the one guest
    • Everyone knows where the kids check in is – but not the first timer
    • Everyone can find their own seat – but we want the first-timer to be able to find a seat and not feel like we are full or that they are taking someone’s spot. This is why we set up chairs as we fill up.
    • Guests usually come early or late – serve at your post at least 15 minutes before the service begins and at least 15 minutes after the service has started.
  1. Assume guests will not introduce themselves
  • Most guests are looking to stay anonymous
  • We need to make the first move in greeting someone we don’t know. They might have been attending for 3 years – but if you don’t know them, please introduce yourself. “How long have you been coming to _____________?”
  1. Assume guests do not understand WHAT we do or WHY we do it
  • This is why we wave people in at the driveway
  • This is why we help people know where to park
  • This is why we take people with young children to show them the children’s area
  • This is why we need to explain the security and safety of the kid’s area
  1. Assume every first-time guest has some degree of nervousness
  • They may be trying to find the person who invited them
  • They may be from a different church or religion and are out of place
  • They may just have a fear of the unknown
  • Some are worried the building is going to cave in on them
  • Parking, finding the bathrooms, and sitting down are three nervous points.
  1. Assume God is strategically working in the lives of everyone who drives onto the property and walks through the doors of your church on a Sunday morning.
  • Regardless of whether someone is a first-time attender or a regular, whether they are young or old, tall or short, fancy or plain, we assume God has prompted them to come to church today!
  • With this mindset, we present them with an over-the-top welcoming experience because we believe God has already been involved in them coming to church.

Brett Bixby is the Executive Pastor at Bridgewater Church. They have 5 campuses spread across Northeastern PA and the Southern Tier of NY. He has been a pastor for 20 years and has been at Bridgewater for the last 8 years. He is married to Nicole, and they have 5 children.

How to Know if Its Time to Cancel the Church Event

This year my church cancelled our annual 4th of July event, and I couldn’t have been more proud. It’s not that I’m not patriotic. I am. It’s just that I couldn’t justify spending a significant amount of time and money on an event that was getting few, if any, people closer to Jesus. The congregation really liked the event. Many in the community even came out to see the fireworks, but it wasn’t getting people connected to our church, which made me ask the question, “Should we even be doing this?” For us, the answer was no.

Let me ask you, is your church doing any events that need to be cancelled? I bet the answer for many of you is yes, although sometimes that’s really hard to admit.

Here are a few ways you can know for sure.

  • The event has no clearly defined win. Why are you doing the event in the first place? Unless you’re getting people closer to Jesus or more connected to the church, then you don’t have a good reason for the event. People showing up is not a win.
  • The event is for people already connected to the church. If you’re going to spend time and money on an event, then it just makes sense to try to get guests there. It should be used as an evangelism tool, not just to entertain or satisfy those already in your church.
  • The event competes with other events in the community. For example, our 4th of July event was one of many in the community. We were basically telling people come to ours, instead of encouraging them to support a community event that would put them around people who need to know Jesus.
  • The event never gets evaluated. No one ever asks the questions: was this a success, was this worth the cost, or why should we do this again? It’s just expected every year, so it keeps getting added to the calendar.
  • The event gets rescheduled to keep church people happy. The event has nothing to do with getting new people connected to the church. It’s all about keeping people from leaving the church.

After you compare your event with this list, you’ll know pretty quickly what should do. Now, the question will be, are you willing to make the tough decision? Leave a comment, and let me know what you decide, and don’t forget to subscribe the blog to get tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered to your inbox each week.

8 Ways to Make Your Church Website Awesome

Guest Post: Travis Sinks

You are probably aware of how important your church website is. In fact, your website is considered to be the new “front door” of your church, and 1 out of every 3 people will check it out before ever visiting your church… You’ve probably heard that your website is an important online hub for your church…And that it can be leveraged as a long-term resource for new and existing members, and your community as a whole.

But you know what you’re often NOT told?

What should actually be on your church website.

But before we dive into that answer, let’s review 3 things that should NOT be on your church website…

  1. Old/Irrelevant Content: Sadly, the internet has created an environment of being perfectly up to date, which has created a culture that has little patience for outdated content. This means that if people see your website promoting a month old event, they’ll assume that you never update it. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to take long to update your website. If your church releases a weekly bulletin, simply take a few minutes to make sure that your website contains all the relevant information that your bulletin does. And, keep in mind: the more often you do this, the less work it will be and the faster you’ll get at it.
  2. Confusing Words or Christian Jargon: The Church, as a whole, has done a poor job at keeping our words simple and easy-to-understand. If you want to reach your local community through your website, then you will have to write and speak in a way they understand. The easiest way to ensure that your website is usable to the non-Christian is to simply ask a non-Christian to review it (and, who knows, they might want to talk to you more about who Jesus is!). Ask them to tell you if any of it doesn’t make sense, or if the words were clear and concise.
  3. A “Messy” or Difficult-To-Navigate Website: Similar to confusing words and jargon, it can be easy to navigate your own website because you feel like a fish in water. But if you’re wanting to reach a specific group of people, then reach out to a few of them and ask them to give a review of how easy your website was to navigate and use. In general, churches tend to have some of the most confusing websites, yet, it can (and should) be much simpler.

In the end, for most church websites, you should focus on simplicity and effectively communicating your primary message.

Which brings us to the positive side of this article: 8 Ways to Make Your Church Website Awesome

Please note that for all of these items, consider asking a non-Christian if you meet these requirements. It can be much more difficult for you to see if these things are present on your website than for someone who is unfamiliar with your church.

  1. A Clear Explanation Of The Gospel and Your Statement Of Faith: Your church website needs to be able to lead someone through the foundations of the Gospel and our faith.
  1. Clear Service Time(s)/Meeting Place: Your website visitors should be able to easily find out where and when you meet. I like to have this information on every relevant page and also in the footer of each page.
  1. A Simple Navigation Menu: I prefer something like: “Sundays, About, Events, Resources, Contact, Give”. Keep in mind to avoid jargon in your navigation titles like “SOMA” or “Body Life” because this is simply confusing to anyone outside your church. Even if your youth group has a specific name, use the words “Youth Group” or “High School Group” in the navigation bar.
  1. “Real” (But Still Nice) Photos: I prefer to use photos of the church and its members because it brings out the genuineness of the church better than stock photos do. Just be sure that they are good quality photos and that you have permission to use them online – especially if they have kids in the pictures.
  1. A Privacy Policy/Disclosures Page: Sadly, we live in an age where every website needs a privacy policy and disclosures page. What you need will depend on what information you collect on your website, where you advertise your church and some locations (specifically schools) might require a disclaimer on your website as well stating that they are not affiliated with you in any way.
  1. A Simple “Contact Us” Form: Too many contact forms require massive information. Even if you give the option for people to leave more information, you should only require a few things such as their name, email, and maybe their phone number. And remember: if you won’t use the information, then don’t ask for it. For example: don’t have a spot for their physical address if you won’t be sending them a letter or visiting them. This becomes both unnecessary (and intrusive) request to your visitor, but having that information also becomes an unnecessary (and unused) liability for you.
  1. A Podcast For Your Weekly Sermons: The beauty of the internet is that we can repurpose content for almost no additional cost. Instead of having sermons limited to a specific time and day of the week, you can now have a podcast available for members who missed the service because they missed the service or serving during it. Your podcast can also be used for nonmembers of your church who simply want to know Jesus better. Having a podcast is a win-win and you lose nothing by giving away the sermons you’ve already preached.
  2. A Clear And Easy Way To Give Online: Online giving is a trend that has skyrocketed and is not going away. There are many online giving options available (some of which tie directly into your website or app), but you only need one to make this an easy and quick experience for people who would rather give online.

A Resource Moving Forward

I hope these 11 things help you get the most out of your church website. However, mapping out your website can be time consuming and frustrating, and so I put together a general checklist that covers the needs of the majority of churches.

If you’re looking to revamp your website, or even completely create it, this is an important place to start. It’s in a previous blog post of mine titled: “Planning Your Church website,” which you can find at this link.

Bio:

Travis Sinks is the volunteer assistant pastor at Redemption Church Delray Beach. He is also a business growth consultant and web designer for churches. You can also check out his blog at travissinks.com which is written to encourage and equip the church as a whole in both their knowledge of scripture and in their practical lives of life and ministry.