4. Don’t point us out in the service.
Speaking of angst, when it comes to welcoming the visitors, my wife and I could feel the blood draining from our faces when we thought the announcement givers at these various churches were going to have us stand and recognize us as visitors (thank the Lord none of them ever did!). I don’t know whose idea it was to have visitors stand in a service to be “welcomed” in the first place, but, whoever you are, it was a bad idea. We don’t want to be pointed out. We don’t want to wear a special colored name tag. We just want to check your church out and talk to friendly people along the way who make us feel welcome.
5. Give the gospel clearly enough for us to understand and believe.
OK, OK, I have already put my faith in Jesus (along with the rest of my family), but I listened to every service with the ears of a lost person. I asked myself, “If I were to come to this service as an unbeliever, would I hear the gospel clearly enough to understand the gospel.” In most churches, there were brief overviews of the gospel, but I would say it was only in one church where the gospel was clearly and completely given in a way that unbelievers could easily understand and put their faith in Jesus. This doesn’t require an “altar call”, but it does require a call from the altar for unbelievers to put their trust in Jesus based on his finished work on the cross for the salvation of their souls.
6. Have a check-in system for kids that is hassle-free and quick.
Most of these churches we visited had a quick process for checking in our kids. Some were really quick. Others made us fill out semi-extensive information. Yes, I know this is a must for legal reasons, but I would encourage children’s ministries to make it as quick and painless as possible for newcomers.
Think about it. If it’s your first time at a church, you usually show up a few minutes before the service time is scheduled to start. But if it takes 10 minutes to check in your kids, you will miss the opening of the service and risk feeling like you are interrupting. All this can make visitors feel uneasy.
7. Beware weird Christian things.
Over the years, I’ve witnessed a lot of weird Christian happenings in churches across America. And because I was new to most of these churches, I witnessed them from a visitor’s vantage point. I’ve seen leaping, leotard-clad, banner-waving dancers flood the aisles during worship. I literally had no idea what was taking place and could only imagine what an unbeliever would be thinking if it was their first time in church. More recently, I watched a lady awkwardly jerk and move (dancing?) across the back of the auditorium during the service. The people around me tried to ignore her but it was hard for us, as visitors, to look away. In other churches, I’ve heard incessant “ameners” who say “amen!” about anything and everything (even during announcements and at the parts of the