Thom Rainer, author of many books and an expert on church growth and decline, did an informal Twitter poll about why people didn’t return to a particular church. Mind you this is NOT scientific, but the results were worth pondering. Here are his findings (and his words condensed – you can read his full blog post here). I used Disney theme park pictures for this post because Disney does it right!
Having a stand up and greet one another time in the worship service. First, I was surprised how much guests are really uncomfortable during this time. Second, I was really surprised that it was the most frequent response.
Unfriendly church members. The surprise was the number of respondents who included non-genuine friendliness in their answers.
Unsafe and unclean children’s area. If your church does not give a high priority to children, don’t expect young families to attend.
No place to get information. If your church does not have a clear and obvious place to get information, you probably have lowered the chances of a return visit by half. There should also be someone to greet and assist guests at that information center as well.
Bad church website. Most of the church guests went to the church website before they attended a worship service. If they attended the service after visiting a bad website, they attended with a prejudicial perspective.
Insider church language. “The WMU will meet in the CLC in the room where the GAs usually meet.”
Boring or bad service. My surprise was that it was not ranked higher.
Members telling guests that they were in their seat or pew.
Dirty facilities. Some of the comments: “Didn’t look like it had been cleaned in a week.” “No trash cans anywhere.” Restrooms were worse than a bad truck stop.” “Pews had more stains than a Tide commercial.”
Does your church have any or all of these things? If we hope to attract people for Christ, we should take into consideration that detail is important and perception is communication. I would love to hear your ideas about how you are tackling these issues in your own context.