How Churches Drive New Comers Away

If you attend a church regularly, you’ve probably noticed the phenomenon. A new person shows up for worship service, but he or she never returns. It is, unfortunately, a common issue in many churches.

One person created a Twitter poll to ask random first-time guests why they chose not to return to a particular church. While some of the responses were anticipated, I admit being a bit surprised with some of them.

Though my poll is not scientific, it is nevertheless fascinating and maybe eye opening to many church leaders. Here are the top ten responses in order of frequency.

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  1. Having a stand up and greet one another time in the worship service. People shouldn’t have to be told to get up and welcome new comers or each other. If the people in your church can’t be bothered to say good morning, or welcome a new face… then you have a real problem, and setting aside an official time of the service to force them to say good morning does nothing to fix that problem. We should naturally want to greet each other and not feel burdened to do so.
  2. Unfriendly church members. This response was anticipated. But the surprise was the number of respondents who included non-genuine friendliness in their answers. In other words, the guests perceived some of the church members to be fake.
  3. Unsafe and unclean children’s area. This response generated the greatest emotional reactions. If your church does not give a high priority to children, or it’s younger members don’t expect young families or young members to attend.
  4. No place to get information. If your church does not have a clear and obvious place to get information, you probably have lowered the chances of a return visit by half. There should also be someone to greet and assist guests at that information center as well.
  5. Bad church website. Most of the church guests went to the church website before they attended a worship service. Even if they attended the service after visiting a bad website, they attended with a prejudicial perspective. The two indispensable items guests want on a website are address and times of service. It’s just that basic.
  6. Poor signage. If you have been attending a church for a few weeks, you forget all about the signage. You don’t need it any more. But guests do. And they are frustrated when it’s not there.
  7. Insider church language. Most of the respondents were not referring to theological language as much as language that only the members know. My favorite example was: “The WMU will meet in the CLC in the room where the GAs usually meet.”
  8. Boring or bad service. People come to be encouraged, to be taught, to be challenged unfortunately the message, the music/praise are often of poor quality because many churches fail to provide what is needed – the Word of God. Many praise bands become there own “machine” instead of including others they fall in love with the stage and forget about their duty as praise team leaders.
  9. Members telling guests that they were in their seat or pew. Yes, this obviously still takes place in some churches.
  10. Dirty facilities. Some of the comments: “Didn’t look like it had been cleaned in a week.” “No trash cans anywhere.” Restrooms were worse than a bad truck stop.” “Pews had more stains than a Tide commercial.”

What should be done? What could be done?

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