Becoming a Welcoming Church

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Over the past year and a half, my church has been in the process of evaluating guest experience. A process that has brought about:

  • A multilayered greeter ministry
  • Clear campus-wide wayfinding signage
  • Rebranding/refreshing of both the church logo and website
  • As well as a bunch of other small adjustments (ease of giving, etc.)

I recently came across Thom S. Rainer’s Becoming a Welcoming Church due to a clever video I saw on Facebook.

Becoming a Welcoming Church is a short book (6 chapters) that focuses on the church’s Biblical mandate towards hospitality.

Always be eager to practice hospitality. – Romans 12:13b

What I loved about Becoming a Welcoming Church, is Thom’s laid-back writing style. He lazer focuses on issues he has come across and offers helpful solutions on:

  • Church Signage
  • Church Safety
  • Being a Clean Church (literally)
  • Greeters
  • Welcome Centers

Thom also repeatedly hammers down on the need for accurate and updated information on the church web site, which he calls the front door of the church.

I loved how Thom talks about the importance of having a doctrinal statement on the church web site (this was a conversation I had with my church when refreshing the site):

Lack of clarity about beliefs or doctrine. Not all guests will check this important item, but many will. Churches should not hesitate to share with clarity what they believe, particularly their core beliefs. Some of the most effective means to communicate doctrine begin with a simple link on the home page that says: “What We Believe.” Those who choose to view the doctrinal statement can click to a full page of the church’s basic beliefs. You may lose as many as half of your potential guests without this item. (Location 549)

I also appreciated his story on having greeters arrive early:

Arriving too late; leaving too early. Mike became the second greeter at my rural church in southern Indiana. He was blown away I asked him to serve. Our service started at 11:00 a.m. (surprise!), but Mike was always outside ready to greet by 10:30 a.m., even if no one had yet arrived. I told Mike he did not have to be in his greeter role that early. He disagreed. In fact, he kind of chastised me. “Pastor,” he said sternly, “I was serving in this spot when Hank arrived a few months ago. We started a great conversation. He began to feel okay about coming into the church. And you know the rest of the story. Hank got saved a few weeks later.” Mike paused for a moment. The intensity in his expression was strong. “So,” he continued. “If getting here a few minutes early makes a difference in someone’s eternity, I think it’s a small price to pay.” (Location 873)

My quick read of Becoming a Welcoming Church was an excellent reminder of the process my church has been working through. After reading, I can now see a few areas for improvement (web site related) that I hope to remedy. Great book if you are looking to evaluate your church’s guest experience. The “Church Facility Audit” and “Secret Guest Survey”, that are provided in the back of the book, are helpful tools as well.

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On the Verge of Fear

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There is a fine balance between acting in a responsible manner versus reacting in fear. The church has a responsibility to ensure that all are safe that walk through it’s doors.

The responsible church has plans for inclement weather. Plans to guard against predators who prey on children.

16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. – Matthew 10:16 (ESV)

What happens when the church falters from responsibility into fear? I have been wrestling with this question. Wisdom and innocence alight in a dance. Chuck Norris hired to defend the front door.

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