As we prepare to reopen our doors at church a good question to ask is, Do you really know what the experience is of those who attend your services? Avoid overlooking some very important factors.
I think that often, as the church in general, we tend to overlook some really important things that impact the experience one has on a Sunday morning. Yes, the preaching needs to be engaging, the worship spirit-filled and the people pleasant, but there are also other factors that impact the overall experience.
Let’s take a look at evaluating your church’s experience!
How far away did I have to park?
Do I feel safe? Are appropriate distancing measures in place?
Did I have to walk across a rough pot-holed parking lot to get to the entrance.
If I am a visitor can I easily find the entrance?
Is there good signage to help me find my way around?
Does the building look well maintained?
Has the building been updated or does the décor still give homage to decades gone by?
Your facilities say a lot about who you are a church.
In todays world as we are just coming out of a world wide pandemic people want to feel safe. Is there plenty of hand sanitizer stations? Are surfaces regularly wiped down? Are your cleaning schedule and procedures posted and on your website? Are you providing masks for those who need them?
Your building - ne
w or old - radiates a feeling whether it be mediocracy, excellence or failing.
What people see as they look at and navigate your facility gives them a very strong perception. It’s from that perception that opinions are formed about your ministry.
I don't care if your building is 150-years-old or 1-year-old. An unkempt lawn, stains on the carpet and items in disrepair all say the same thing: you really do not care that much about the building.
On the other hand, clean restrooms, windows without fingerprints and a wonderful aroma of coffee brewing communicate that as a church you care about the building and The Experience on Sunday morning.
Was the production distraction free?
Did the service flow smoothly?
Was there some continuity throughout the service?
Did you walk away from the service with a reaction? Encouragement, A challenge, conviction?
I often refer to th
e service itself as a production, not in a bad way or a way that implies manipulation, but rather in a way that conveys planning and purpose.
I often will also refer to the service as the product. Again not in a negative way, but in a way that highlights what the church delivers on a Sunday morning.
I remember as a teenager walking into church 5 minutes before a Sunday night service and seeing the minister of music (that's what we used to call worship leaders) sitting in the back row, thumbing through a hymnal writing down the numbers of the songs we would sing during the service.
Even as a teenager it struck me that the music must not be that important. I probably even wondered if the pastor just got up and opened the bible and just started talking.
A service doesn't have to be "glitzy" and look like a Broadway production or concert, but it needs to be planned out and prepared ahead of time.
Were you greeted properly?
Do you feel safe?
Did you feel welcome?
Did you feel comfortable?
Did you feel cared for?
We all know that it is the people that make a difference. So why does church leadership, in general neither empower or commission people to be friendly, or model it for the constituents? In a number of churches I have visited I often see two extremes.
The first is where the Pastor that’s "larger than life" is pretty much the center of attention. After the service he’s the loudest and the person that has to shake everybody's hand. He’s the one who wants to greet guests and visitors and nobody better get in his way.
The second is the recluse Pastor that magically disappears after the service. He is nowhere to be found. I guess he figured he did his part, the sermon and now is done for the day.
Obviously both of these responses are on the extreme end of the scale between being engaged and not available. What really is needed is an entire congregation that is empowered to welcome people and make them feel comfortable. Many visitors will return just because somebody made them feel welcome.
So do an evaluation. What is The Experience at your church? If you visited your church would you want to return? Or, would you find some work that needs to be done.