When it comes to having an irresistible church, basic and foundational things like prayer, discipleship, and evangelism (having an externally-focused church as I’ve stated before) are all a given. Each church should take the Great Commission seriously and have an emphasis on the “Go” and on the “make disciples.” I start everything with prayer, and so please know that what I’m about to discuss is with the above stated things as must-haves and what I consider foundational to a healthy church.
With that being said, let me share with you the big four that I look for when I visit a church, secret shop a church, or consult with a church. As the title says and Scriptures encourage us – we should compel them to come in. The big four that I look for when I do a secret shopper are First Impressions, Children’s, Security, and Worship. Yes, worship is last, and I have listed them in the order that I weigh them.
As many studies have shown us, people make up their mind whether or not they will return long before the worship service and especially the sermon. Most visitors will know in the first 10 minutes if they will return to your church.
First Impressions of an Irresistible Church
Let’s start with what I consider to be the most crucial of all ministries at a church. Whether you call it First Impressions, Hospitality, or Guest Relations – it matters and is paramount to breaking down walls and making guests feel welcome at your church.
“You’ve got 10 minutes. Somewhere between the parking lot and the children’s center, the ten minutes pass…They should know they matter to us before they hear how much they matter to God.” – Mark Waltz, Granger
Something I tell all the churches I work with is: “You must be strategic and intentional about breaking down any barriers of intimidation. You must be strategic and intentional about creating warm, welcoming environments.”
Now, I could spend an entire series on just first impressions. This is everything from your online presence (social media like Twitter, Facebook – as well as your Web site). For example, I did a secret shopper this past weekend, and I had created 13 pages in my report on just online presence before I ever left to attend their physical campus.
Once one comes to your physical campus, the real fun begins. First impressions then include the parking lot, greeters, ushers, and people that greet you at your church’s Welcome or Information Booth. First impressions also includes things like smell (your church may stink), signage (your church may be intimidating and confusing for new people), and how your facility is kept up and maintained. All these things play subtle parts in a guest’s first impression of your church and their subconscious.