A few years ago, my family and I had been praying and searching for God’s will for our lives. I was the assistant/youth pastor at a church, but the pastor was going through a divorce and he felt that he should remain as pastor. I didn’t agree with his position, and, after four months, we left.
The search was different than other searches we’ve done before. Before, we would visit churches as a prospective or visiting preacher/staff member. That time, however, we were looking for a church that we could be members of for a time of healing, and a full-time position is kind of a “side issue.”
During this process, we had the privilege of viewing churches, not from a preacher/staff member view, but from a first-time visitor’s prospective. This experience has allowed us to grow and learn a lot when it comes to treating and interacting with visitors. Going through Bible college and working in churches, we learn different ways to interact with visitors, but as much as people try, a visitor can still be treated differently than a visiting preacher. The Scripture in James comes to mind:
(James 2:1-4) My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?
We have compiled the following list of 20 questions regarding a visitor’s point of view:
- What do visitors see when they first pull up?
- What do they see when they walk in the doors?
- Are they greeted right away?
- Do they truly feel welcome – like an honored guest?
- Are they shown where to go and what to do?
- Are they invited into conversations?
- How do they view the pastor?
- How do they view the pastor’s wife?
- How do they view the others in leadership?
- Is the service inviting to them?
- Was the music service uplifting or depressing?
- Did the pastor (and others) demonstrate a passion for the Bible, souls, etc.?
- Did the message seem well studied?
- How did the nursery workers and Sunday school teachers treat them and their children?
- Did the nursery workers change, or at least check, the children’s diapers?
- Were the visitors invited back?
- Did people address the visitors’ questions?
- Did the visitors feel comfortable enough to ask questions?
- Were the visitors and/or their children complimented?
- Did the visitors receive a visit or letter that week?
Question: How have your experiences been when visiting a new church?