So you’re going shopping today…for a church?!
Everything in life is a choice. If you want a car, you have the right to go to a car lot and choose the car that you want. If you need a new outfit, you have the right to go to a store and purchase a new outfit. Essentially the same applies to a church. People will go to a church just because but they will not stay just because.
There is no such thing as “the” local community church anymore. Nowadays, most communities have several churches. Sometimes there are even several churches in one facility. This means there are plenty of churches for people to choose from, and guess what…people will shop around.
Let us look into a few things that might matter to people when “church shopping”:
1. Comfort Level – This is a multi-faceted portion. Comfort can be described as a couple of different things so let’s name a few:
a. Smiling Faces – People are typically anxious when arriving at a new place, they would prefer to be greeted by someone who is smiling rather than someone who is “holier than thou.” I have been to places where I have been ignored, my family has not been properly addressed…oh and did I forget to mention that I was going to be the … preacher! Let’s greet people properly and make them feel welcomed.
b. Clothing – Some people like to wear Sunday’s best while others like to be a lot more casual. Neither way is wrong. However, let people know what the culture of your church is. Don’t say “we accept you just as you are” and then look down at someone because they dressed different than the other 99 people there. Let the community know. I have seen some fantastic advertisements where churches let people know exactly what they are about and how they can dress.
2. Children’s Ministry – Mom and Dad want their son and/or daughter to have a safe, clean, and fun place that they too can worship in and learn about Jesus. A good children’s ministry is a must. I understand that some places do not have the facilities; however, on the days that you do minister to children…go all out! Cater to them and lead them to Jesus.
3. Worship Style – All Christ centered churches are good churches. They come in all different styles and sizes. They vary in worship styles. Please know that when I reference worship style, I am talking about music. Some people prefer traditional services where they sing hymns and an organ is played while others prefer a more contemporary approach with a band. Again, neither way is wrong as long as our focus is to exalt the name of Jesus. The point is people will make a decision based on their style of preference. Make it easy for people to sing along whether it is with a hymn book, a paper program, or a screen that shows the lyrics powered by software such as easyworship. Not everyone will know the lyrics therefore, let’s provide them with the lyrics.
4. Preaching – People coming to church for the first time most likely are coming in brokenhearted and in need of a spiritual boost. They are not necessarily thinking: “man, I cannot wait to hear a great revelation”, they are probably hoping that the pastor or preacher addresses something that is currently happening in their life. Transformation occurs in what people can apply to their everyday life, not how much Greek or Hebrew you can tell them. Give them a good word on Sunday but make sure that they can apply it on Monday and throughout the rest of the week.
5. Organization – People will evaluate their experience as a whole. Therefore, make sure that you’re as organized as you possibly can be. As a leader, I know firsthand that things sometimes just do not turn out as planned therefore, always think quickly. Value people’s time and start at the designated hour with those that are there. If the person in charge of starting the service is yet to arrive, have someone else start the service. Always have a back-up plan, because sometimes life just happens.
6. A Reason to Come Back – Whether at a store or a restaurant, when a person has a positive experience, they want to come back. And guess what?! They will invite others to come with them as well. An experience at your church should keep people wanting to come back and to bring their friends. As a small church pastor I know that this is easier said than done; however, do your best with what you have. Try different things and see what works best for the people that you serve in your community. Effective churches and businesses will continue to try different things until they finally begin to achieve their vision and mission.
These are just a few things that people will evaluate when looking for a church to join with their family. I will not discount the fact that God has certain places for certain people, as was the case for me and my family. However, the reality is that most people choose where they will attend and they have a strategy on how to choose.
I am interested to hear your strategy. How did you choose to attend your church?