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How to Become a Friendlier Church

Here are six simple steps for using an outside observer to improve the friendliness of your church family.

1. Address your church family about the difference between “having friends at church” and “being friendly to visitors.”

  • While it is important for church members to feel loved and appreciated, it is equally important for guests to feel loved and welcomed.
  • To prepare for an outside evaluation of friendliness, the pastor will share this information with the church in a sermon, in a newsletter article, or an email.
  • Use this as an opportunity to encourage the congregation to welcome new people.

2. Develop a list  of friendly behavior desired from your church family.
A representative body of church members can make a list of everything involved in being a friendly church. A typical list of friendly actions might include:

  • A smile
  • A handshake
  • Personal introduction
  • Invitation to Bible study
  • Invitation to lunch
  • Demonstration of interest through conversation
  • Sitting with the guest during worship
  • Providing a tour of the building
  • Inviting the guest to attend worship again

3. Share with the entire church family this list of ways they will interact with people who visit your church.
Explain to the church leaders and congregation that they will soon have an anonymous guest who will evaluate the friendliness of their church.

4. Enlist an outside observer.

  • Find a person unknown to everyone in the church.
  • Have this person attend a Sunday morning worship service as if he or she were looking for a church home.
  • This person will visit the church and keep a record of the times he or she experienced the actions listed in step two.
  • The observer will prepare a report with recommendations for improvement.

5. Recruit two inside observers who have the respect and trust of the congregation.
They will watch from a distance as the outside observer visits the church. Their participation is vital to validate the outside observer’s report. Arrange a meeting of the outside and inside observers. (They must be able to recognize the outside observer.) Direct the inside observers to watch from a distance and observe how guests are welcomed with the following questions in mind:

  • How often do church members walk right past guests?
  • Do guests ever appear lost or disoriented?
  • Who in the church did a good job to reach out to guests?
  • How can we improve our welcoming process?

These observers will prepare a report with recommendations for improvement.

6. Present the report and recommendations to the church family.

  • Present this report in an encouraging and positive manner.
  • Brag publicly about those identified as being particularly friendly.
  • Explain that the project will be repeated in the next few months. 
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