In a recent Twitter survey, I asked respondents to share with me a singular event that impressed them in a church worship service. In fact, most of the respondents said they were "delighted" or "surprised," and that the one event made them desire to return to the church.
I am appreciative for all the responses. A pattern developed around nine factors. Here are some representative quotes around each of the issues:
1. "Someone had an umbrella waiting for me in inclement weather." This comment was made for both snowy and rainy weather. Some of the respondents indicated that someone actually stayed next to them so they would not slip or fall.
2. "A member actually invited me to lunch." I admit I was surprised by the frequency of this response. This invitation had a huge impact on guests.
3. "The kids' area had leaders who were friendly and helpful." This issue was obviously highly important to young families. I realize more than ever you keep or lose young families at the point you check the kids in or take them to a class.
4. "There was a time of meaningful prayer." I continue to be gratefully amazed at how important prayer is to guests. They love the times of quiet when people are asked to pray silently. They also love guided prayers.
5. "Someone walked us where we were supposed to go." Every place in a church facility is unknown to a first time guest. They love greeters staying with them and taking the fear of the unknown away.
6. "There was genuine friendliness outside of the stand and greet time." I have come to the conclusion that church members tend to like the stand and greet time more than guests do. In fact, most guests see the stand and greet time as artificial, especially if members are not friendly outside that time.
7. "People followed up with my prayer requests the next day." Many churches have places on guest cards for prayer requests. If leaders in the church emphasize that people will pray for the guests, many are likely to complete the card. The guests are really impressed if they hear from someone the next day.
8. "I loved having the opportunity to speak with the pastor." In some churches, this conversation took place in a reception room after the service. In other churches, the pastor called or wrote a personal email that was obviously not a form email. Guests really love hearing from the pastor.
9. "I received a gift at the end of the service." Many guests love receiving a gift for their visit. Their favorite gifts are freshly baked cookies or freshly baked bread. But any gift is appreciated.
Keep in mind, those who responded to our survey noted only one of these nine surprises that caused them to return. They considered any of these efforts above and beyond what they expected.
What do you think of these nine "delights and surprises"? Do you have experiences you can add to the list? Let me hear from you.
Thom S. Rainer is the president of LifeWay Christian Resources. For the original article, visit thomrainer.com.
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