Pretty much every church leader I talk to says they long to reach their community. After all, the church is one of the only missions on the planet that exists for the sake of its non-members. Who wouldn’t want to be part of a welcoming church?
But there’s a strange tension to which leaders are often blind: As much as they say they want to reach outsiders, their services and the entire organization are geared toward insiders. As a result, when someone they’re trying to reach shows up, it’s easy for them to feel like they don’t fit in or like this church simply isn’t for them. And most leaders simply miss the signs that this is the case. So they scratch their heads and wonder why outsiders don’t flock toward their church.
The truth is there’s a gravitational pull inside almost every church to sacrifice the church’s mission by catering to the church’s members.
And while you can’t ignore the needs of your members, there’s a strange paradox that’s true about spiritual maturity: The best way to become spiritually mature is to stop focusing on your needs and begin focusing on Christ and others. Some church leaders drown in the sink-hole of trying to satisfy the escalating demands of their unpleasable members while they watch the real mission go up in flames.
Worse, others think they’re geared to outsiders when in reality, they’re not. At least not really. They’ve given in to the subtle but relentless pull of the needs of insiders.
Not a Welcoming Church
With that in mind, here are five tell-tale signs your church is geared to insiders, and is not a welcoming church, despite your best intentions.
1. Long Announcements
I know this is a weird one to start with, but really, how long are your announcements?
If they’re longer than three minutes, you’re probably geared toward insiders more than you realize.
The purpose of a welcome is to welcome people, not announce 18 things.
Churches often feel the tension of announcements as their church grows. If you have a church of 30, there’s probably not much going on. But if you’re a church of 300, you feel the pressure of everyone trying to get their message across.
What about really big churches, you ask? Well, you’ll likely never get to 3,000 if you don’t solve this problem first.
Why is this such a trap for smaller and mid-sized churches? Here’s why. Leaders feel torn, trying to please everyone, and so they cave to the ‘one more announcement’ syndrome because they fear the wrath of whoever they left out.