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5 Must-Know Facts About First-Time Guests

4. The church is in the hospitality business.

Though our ultimate purpose is spiritual, one of our first steps in the Kingdom business is attention to hospitality. Imagine the service that would be given to you in a first-class hotel or a five-star restaurant. Should the church offer anything less to those who have made the great effort to be our guests?

  • Hospitality is almost a forgotten virtue in our society. When was the last time someone invited you to their home for a meal? But it needs to be reawakened.
  • Church members can extend hospitality to guests by offering to sit with them during the church service, giving them a tour of the church facilities, inviting them to lunch after service, or connecting with them later in the week.

5.  You only have one chance to make a good first impression.

More than a truism, first impressions are lasting ones. Little hope of correcting a bad first impression is possible. Your first-time guests have some simple desires and basic needs. They decide very quickly if you can meet those criteria. The decision to return for a second visit is often made before guests reach your front door.

  • Are you creating the entire experience, beginning with your parking lot?
  • Are you consciously working to remove barriers that make it difficult for guests to find their way around and to feel at home with your people?
  • Do newcomers have all the information they need without having to ask any embarrassing questions?
  • Are your greeters and ushers on the job, attending to details and anticipating needs before they are expressed?
  • Does anything about your guests’ first experience make them say, “Wow!” and want to return?

You may be the most skilled preacher, and your church may have excellent small groups or the best children’s ministry in the city. Your first-time guests will never know unless they make a second or third visit. Will they come back? It all depends on the impression you’re making. Make it the right one the first time.  

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rickezell@greerfbc.org'
Presently Rick Ezell is the pastor at First Baptist Church in Greer, South Carolina. Rick is a consultant, conference leader, communicator and coach. He is the author of six books, including "Strengthing a Pastor's Soul."