Easter is a time for remembering the Cross and celebrating the resurrection through cantatas, special services, children’s Easter egg hunts and family get-togethers. It is also one of the only Sundays that rivals Christmas with high numbers of visitors attending church services. Easter and Christmas are often when individuals and families that don’t regularly attend church may decide to give it a try.
We would do well as church staff members and lay leaders to make the most of this opportunity, and make every effort to create an inviting, welcoming environment and positive experience. It is helpful to take a step back and look at your church through the eyes of a visitor. This can happen simply by looking at key areas and making sure your church is truly a place that is friendly and welcoming to first-time visitors.
There are 5 basic areas that will “make or break” a visitor’s first experience at your church. Simply making sure these are in place can make a huge difference in whether or not your visitor comes back again.
Do you have plenty of parking spaces with easy access to the building, particularly for those needing handicap spaces and for families with children? The parking lot is often the first or initial impression a visitor will have of your church. Work hard to make sure it is not confusing or difficult.
Do you have people welcoming and greeting guests starting even from the parking lot? It helps if your volunteers that serve as greeters are people that naturally enjoy meeting new people and making them feel comfortable. Your greeters should easily smile, make eye contact and be comfortable initiating conversation. There are few things more uncomfortable than being greeted by someone that isn’t smiling and looks uncomfortable themselves. Also make sure your greeters are familiar with each building on your church campus and where different programs are being held. Having greeters open doors and lead families to check-in areas and classrooms can be very helpful in making first-time visitors feel welcome.
3) Children’s check-in
Your Children’s Ministry check-in should be clearly marked and have helpful volunteers stationed to answer questions and give direction. It also helps first-time families feel comfortable leaving their children when you have a clear and streamlined registration process and security policy. When being asked to leave their child with strangers parents want to feel confident in their care and the organization or disorganization of the check-in process sends a clear message. Realm is a great software option to make the check-in process streamlined and easy.
4) Clearly posted signs
If a visitor cannot initially navigate their way to the sanctuary or find the Children’s Ministry it can very quickly put a negative spin on their visit. Signs should be easy to find and clearly mark each building, classroom and meeting area.
5) Clean bathrooms and children’s area
Most pastors would not initially guess that a dirty bathroom would be a determining factor whether a first-time guest makes a second visit. However, something as simple as a broken toilet or a dirty sink can quickly cause a visitor to decide to not come back. These are easy things to fix. Make sure your bathrooms are stocked with supplies and spend a little extra time and money making sure your bathrooms are not only clean but look and smell pleasant. It is also important to parents if your nursery and children’s area has clean and appealing toys and furniture. No one wants their child playing with broken and dirty toys on stained carpet and chairs. Don’t just become accustomed to the stains and worn furniture, but instead look at your children’s area through the eyes of a new parent and consider their perspective. It can be eye opening.
These 5 areas are basic but can have a huge impact on a visitor’s first experience at your church. They are also all areas that would not be difficult to improve upon where changes might be beneficial.
As you look toward upcoming Easter services which of these 5 areas in your church could use some improvement?