If You Are a Church...

John and I are trying to find a new home church. I am much more particular than he is (I prefer a more contemporary service with a praise band); however we both pretty much agreed that the church this weekend did many things that turned us off.

Instead of listing these items, I am going to write a handy "do NOT do" for churches looking to add to their congregations.

If You are a Church Looking to Add to Your Congregation, Do NOT:

Have the entire congregations introduce themselves to the new folks.

This is so overwhelming to new people! I am all for making sure that everyone feels welcomed, but why not just appoint a committee of members to introduce themselves? Limit this to 4 or 5 people, including the pastor. DO NOT expect the visitors to remember your names!

(Yes, SO many people introduced themselves to us. Most of the time I was thinking ahead about how we were going to answer their questions. Plus, it got annoying repeating the same thing over and over.)

Forget to consider your service's layout.
Maybe it is just me, but it seems like every church I have ever gone to (most every Protestant that there is) lays out the service so that there is a bit of worship, announcements, and then scripture leading into the sermon, followed up by Communion (if applicable that week) and then offering followed by more worship/praise. This creates a nice flow: the scripture relates to the sermon and then to offer praise we celebrate Communion and offering.

(The church this weekend had a couple of songs, then we launched right into the offering and then Communion, followed by the sermon and more announcements. It felt very disjointed.)

Play your worship music from a CD over the loudspeakers and have worship leaders standing up front with microphones to sing over the music.. and then giggle.

I understand that not every church has the ability (or interest in) have a full on praise band. However; even just having someone play the beautiful grand piano that was in the front would have been an improvement. The music over the speakers was just so cheesy.

(As I mentioned, I am way partial to a praise band- electric guitars, drum set, bass, etc.- and praise music. Hymns give me the heeby jeebies. The music just wasn't the right fit for me- beyond the fact that it was pre-recorded.)

Preach at your visitors.

However well meaning, if you (blatantly) add something to the service about taking Communion with the right heart and how everyone is imperfect and then preach on that subject for 10 minutes, while staring right at the newbies, you are going to make them uncomfortable and probably resentful. I understand the importance of making sure that everyone understands the brevity of Communion, but this is not the correct way of going about it.

Perhaps, as an alternative, include something (WEEKLY so that it sounds practiced!) short and concise about the meaning of Communion. Get your point across and then drop it. DO NOT stare at the visitors- they will get the message without feeling like it was done just for them.

(HELLO! Just because this is our first time at your church doesn't mean that we aren't Christians or don't know about Communion! I really felt like he was staring at us the whole time and it was clear this was an addition to the service that the Pastor was not prepared for- it was delivered very differently than the general sermon. Plus when the Communion came around, I felt like everyone was staring at us to see if we would take it or not. Oh, and I just now realized that they never did the Apostle's Creed or any of the other pre-Communion stuff.)

Serve stale cracker nuggets for Communion.

Use the more common wafers, bread, or unleavened bread. This relates better to a wider audience.

(I have no idea what these were. They really were like stale little nuggets! John and I looked at each other and I was trying SO hard to not laugh. I was shaking. Probably not good after the speech we had just received about taking Communion seriously. I'm sorry, but with those I felt like next week for Communion we would receive Teddy Grahams.)

Give an hour long sermon.

Seriously. You lose people when the sermon is longer than half an hour. People truly do want to pay attention and learn; however after sitting still for an hour already, it gets VERY hard to keep those eyes open. Be concise and to the point with your sermon- cut out a LOT of time by not repeating yourself over and over and do NOT talk in circles!

(Yes, an hour long. Making a TWO HOUR LONG church service. This is SO long for a service that had VERY minimal music. The sermon had a good point, but after awhile I had the point and was ready for the dude to just be done! My eyes were fighting closing after about half an hour-45 minutes. There were SO many opportunities for him to end the sermon and still get the same message across.)

Ask the visitors to pick up their (and others') chairs after the service.
Your guests should feel welcomed, not like they are immediately forced into manual labor! If something is taking place in your sanctuary/multi-purpose room later on, create a committee to do the re-arranging.

True story.

Leslie G  – (March 4, 2010 at 12:47 AM)  

My church violates several of these! =) My FIL is the pastor, so we sorta have to go there (long story). Our church is small, and most likely always will be. So often I see new people and I hope they come back, but they never do. Our service is 2 hours every Sunday (about 45 minutes singing, 30 minutes for testimony/announcements, 45 minutes for the sermon). It is WAY TOO LONG. Good luck in your church search!

The Mrs.  – (March 4, 2010 at 7:08 AM)  

We are on the hunt for a new Church too! I love visiting new places... and though we havn't found the one that is right for us yet (because many of then violate your rules too) I'm confident we will! And you guys will too!! Funny Post.

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