Do you have Visitors or Hostages?
This may seem like a crazy question but after inviting a stranger to church, this was his response to me: I don’t like visiting churches because I feel like a hostage.
After speaking with him for about 5 minutes I understood where he was coming from.
Here’s what he shared with me:
1. Church last too long.
2. People stare at you.
3. The offering is wild.
I really wasn’t shocked by his responses. I’ve heard these and others before. I understand that those outside of the church have formulated opinions from previous experiences, from what they’ve heard from disgruntled and active church members; as well as from salacious social media stories.
So today, I wanted to share my thoughts on his points and how we can grow as a body of believers from his responses:
1. Some of our worship services are too long. It is possible to have 60 – 90 minute services but it takes planning and cooperation of who has the microphone. We have to be more sensitive that if we want people to show up, we have to be relevant and timely. When was the last time you reviewed your order of service? What can be eliminated or reduced. Is it really necessary to have a praise team sing for 30 minutes and a choir sing for 30 minutes? Consider splitting it down the middle and allotting 30 minutes total for praise and worship and the choir. How long do you allot for giving?
2. How welcoming are we after the Pastor says, “let’s greet our visitors?’. We have to be more welcoming and intentional with making guests feel welcome. Look around your church when a visitor arrives. Do your members stare at them wondering who they are or do they welcome and love on them? What’s your process or training to demonstrate to your leaders how visitors should be handled? How often are the processes reviewed and rehearsed?
3. Begging for the offering isn’t cool. Giving should be a joyous part of the worship service. As a tither and sower, I know first hand that tithing works. However, we have to recognize that if you have to prod and beg during the offering, you have bigger issues that need to be addressed. For instance, if your members aren’t givers it may be that they don’t have it give. Consider bringing in an expert to teach wealth building strategies. The bible teaches that God loves a cheerful giver. We have to do more than sing and prophecy to make people happy. Besides, let’s just be honest: long drawn out money lines are frustrating and seem manipulative. Secondly, I also think it is important that churches do a better job explaining the ‘why’ of giving and the ‘results’ of giving. Highlight what services the ministry provides as a result of the offering. Record testimonials from the community that is blessed by these services. Show and share the results in service, on your website and online. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million.
What are you thoughts? Any recommended reading? Please comment below so we can all grow!
Writing this blog post took me back to a funny episode of Blackish I saw about church. In this episode, Dre and Bow bring some friends to church but since they don’t attend regularly themselves, they had no idea how long their church lasted. At the end of the clip, they speak with their guests who tell them they don’t want to come back due to ‘cultural differences’ but what they really mean, is because of how long the service was. I’ve attached the clip so you can laugh and enjoy it!