The 3 Things Church Visitors Actually Care About
If you think about most modern church budgets, you’ll see most of the non-missions money going to programming. That would be lighting, sound equipment, instruments, projection, media… that sort of stuff. It’s interesting, though, that that’s not necessarily what a church visitor cares about. I mean, sure they care about excellence, but there are excellent churches losing visitors all the time. That’s obviously not the priority for visitors.
So what is? I think it might surprise you.
Visitors care about their comfort. And I’m not talking about the padding on your seats. I’m talking about a sense of ease they can have when they enter a new building.
Starbucks stores are masters at comfort. You walk in, the atmosphere is nice, the lighting is good, and a pleasant smell of coffee hits you. It feels comfortable being in a Starbucks – so much so that I often opt to spend my workday there instead of in my office.
People want to feel comfortable – at ease – when they walk into your church. That means getting rid of the things that make people uncomfortable: bad smells, confusion, unfriendly looking people, awkward situations, too loud music…
Visitors also want to feel understood – more than they want to be able to understand. It’s a subtle distinction, but it makes a big difference.
When a visitor is understood, the service is crafted for them. The signage is crafted for them. Everything about the experience is made in a way that they feel understood.
It’s about understanding:
- They don’t know where the bathroom is.
- They might not know some of the religious verbiage we use.
- They might not know our particular style of “doing church”.
And that’s okay. Because your church understands the visitor, they make everything easy for the visitor. It’s easy for the visitor to understand, because they understand the visitor.
Finally, volunteers want to feel like they belong. That’s why pictures of the inside of your church are so important on your website; people want to know if the folks who attend your church are like them. Am I going to fit in?
That doesn’t necessarily mean everyone in the church will be the same race, gender, socio-economic level…any of that. But they want to feel like they’ll be able to relate to the people and that the people will be able to relate to them.
It’s so important to coach our teams and congregation to embrace newcomers. We set an atmosphere of hospitality so the guest can feel at home.
All of the creative efforts we put into making our church services awesome – that’s great. But if we’re neglecting these three things, we aren’t going to hold onto guests. These are the things first-timers really care about.
Have you seen this first-hand? Share in a comment below.