Last month while we were on vacation, we visited a church meeting in a shopping center that had a huge sign; we figured it would be a church trying to reach it’s community.
When we arrived just a few minutes early, there were barely any cars in the parking lot and we saw only one guy outside; and he was leaning against a planter bed talking on his phone.
Naturally, we googled other churches to see if we could find another place to go.
Last May, we visited a church in Mexico that was more than a little tricky to find. At the place where we needed to turn off the dusty road into the dusty field, there was a man standing at the gate who waved us in. We knew we were in the right spot and we knew they wanted people who didn’t know the way to come to their church.
These two churches made a statement to us about their friendliness before we even turned off the car. And our initial judgment of their friendliness colored our entire experience with them.
When New Song was smaller we didn’t worry about friendliness because it was easy to spot the visitors and everyone who attended regularly was friends, but as we grew that friendliness shrunk and it took us awhile to realize that friendliness wasn’t viral anymore. We needed to be more intentional.
So we implemented two practices and scaled a third to become a friendly church. See if these ideas might help your church step up it’s friendliness.
Three Practices of Friendly Churches
1. Call yourself a friendly church.
It’s the power of speaking blessing over people.
In our announcements every week we say, “You’ve probably noticed that this is one of the friendliest churches in the world. So let’s prove it, church, as you take a minute to meet the people around you.” If you say it, they will receive it, and come to live it.
In that moment, early in the service, everyone experiences a few moments of friendliness.
2. Line Up.
Three minutes to greet people during the service is only the first step. It’s the time right after the service that takes friendliness to the next level.
At New Song, I ask our Core to “LINE-UP” every weekend.
- L = Look for someone you don’t know.
- I = Introduce yourself.
- N = Never sit alone.
- E = Engage in conversation after the service.
- U = Use the RU New Café (our monthly lunch for newcomers).
- P = Practice the 3/10 Rule (talk to three people you don’t know during the first 10 minutes after the service).
Make it a value for your church to talk with new people immediately after the service, then transition to chatting with people who are already friends after that. Embed the process in your people by teaching it at leadership meetings, new members’ classes, and at least annually in church.
3. Amp up your greeting team.
Scale friendliness by having greeters all over the place. We like to have greeters in the children’s and youth ministries and in the parking lot, plus of course, the front sidewalk and the lobby, so that every one is welcomed as they arrive.
Have you noticed that more and more stores are training their associates to greet you as you enter? They are figuring out, and implementing, what churches have known for a long time. People want to feel comfortable socially as they come in.
A note on who greets: Try to put people at the doors who look like the people you want to attract. It’s easy for older gentlemen to be greeters – they can come every week and they arrive on time – but they don’t exactly match the young families that you’re seeking, so mix up the team with people who are all ages and colors.
- Take a minute to think about what you would like to do in your church to scale up friendliness.
- How would more friendliness lead to better church assimilation?
- Second Time Visitors: How to Attract Them Back
- [Ebook] Keeping your Guests Coming Back
- How to Make Newcomers Feel Welcome in Any Size Church
- 1 Person you Really Need in your Church Lobby
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