How to Make Sure I Won’t Visit or Return to Your Church

Today, I found myself thinking about some of the reasons I would not visit or return to any given church. So, I thought I’d share some of those and invite any of my readers to share their reasons too!

1. Horrible Website

  • I’m not really talking about design here…instead I’m talking about content.
  • In the world of church websites, I really think simple/user friendly websites are best.
  • However, some churches have incredible websites that make my jaw drop. I immediately want to visit some churches simply by visiting their homepage. But, this is not the norm, nor the expectation.
  • The expectation is that you will have up-to-date, accurate information. Seriously, if you aren’t going to update your website, you have two options: 1) Put very basic information that will not change often (worship times, location, phone number, etc.) 2) Shut it down.
  • For example, today I visited a website that had three major offenses: 1) The picture on the front page was of a church in a very urban setting. There would be nothing wrong with that, except the fact that this particular church is located in the middle of a cornfield in central Indiana. 2) The most recent “church event” listed was for a family night…four years ago. 3) The “pastor page” featured a pastor who has not been employed by that particular church in three years.

2. Inadequate Childcare

  • Before I had children, I totally under-estimated the importance of high quality childcare. I always thought parents were just being hyper-sensitive. I was wrong.
  • The quality of your childcare and the condition of your nursery/childcare areas will indicate whether or not you really desire to have young families in your church.
  • Whether you regularly have children in worship or not, you should always be prepared with childcare. Churches should get into the practice of expecting to have visitors…and visitors with children.
  • As an example, several years ago I visited a church on Easter Sunday. My oldest daughter became restless in the middle of the service. To be honest, I was getting restless too. So, I looked in the church bulletin and found out where the nursery was located. We discretely exited the service and made our way to the nursery. When we arrived at the “toddler nursery”, we found a locked door and a dark room. A staff member walked by and I asked about childcare. She looked at me and said, “We never offer childcare on Easter Sunday”, as if I should have already known that. So, I looked in the bulletin, it did not state anything about not offering childcare. There wasn’t a note on the door. I asked if there was any way she could let me in the nursery. She reluctantly let me in. By the end of the service, the nursery was filled with 4 parents and 7 children. Seems like that church might want to “rethink” their childcare ministry.

3. Bad Facebook Page

  • Much like the website, what is the point of having a Facebook page (or any other kind of social media page/account) if you aren’t going to utilize it?

4. Bad Church Sign

  • Just do a Google search for “bad church signs” and that will explain this one. Too many churches offend me before I even get in the door.

5. You Refer to Your Church as a “Friendly Church”

  • I have found that “friendly” churches are usually only friendly to club members. You know what I mean…we are friendly to those who are already our friends. We visit and spend time with our circle of friends and rarely, if ever, reach out to people outside of our small circles. I have watched this take place during every single “greeting” time at every single church I have served. Now, there may be one or two in each church who break the mold…and they are awesome…but they are too few.
  • I have visited churches known to be “friendly” and “hospitable” only to experience the opposite. Here is an example: Before I got married, I visited a church in the greater Elkhart area known for being “friendly”, “hospitable”, and “cutting edge”. This was a possibility because they had some evening services. I walked in and made my way to the information booth. At the information booth, everything was self-serve. I filled out an information card and grabbed some pamphlets about ministries that seemed interesting. I walked into the sanctuary and grabbed a seat in the middle of the room. I noticed the church was filled with people in my peer group. I was hopeful. I listened to the band. I stood up during the “greet one another” period. I listened to the sermon. I listened to the band. I stuck around for a while after the service. I walked out the door, got into my car, and didn’t talk to a single person until I walked into my favorite little pub in Goshen and was warmly greeted by the bartender and had a great conversation with others sitting at the bar.
  • If churches want to be “friendly” and “hospitable”, we need to figure out how to make everyone feel that they are welcome, invited, and valued.

6. Bad Coffee

  • You might laugh at this one, but I will seriously not return to your church if you serve me bad coffee.
  • I will pre-judge the quality of your entire ministry based on the coffee you serve. If the coffee is excellent, you will have raised the bar and I will be excited to see what else the church has to offer. If the coffee is lousy, I won’t expect much from the band, sermon, discipleship, or outreach opportunities.
  • In 2012, churches should NOT be having conversations about whether or not to serve coffee.
  • In 2012, churches should NOT be having conversations about whether or not to allow coffee in the sanctuary.
  • In 2012, church SHOULD be having conversations about what coffee to serve.
  • Seriously, churches should put thought into the coffee they serve. Not only does the quality of the coffee reflect what you think about those drinking it, it also says something about what you think of those growing, harvesting, roasting, selling, and distributing the coffee. Yes, coffee is moral/ethical issue. Think about serving coffee that is fairly traded and organic. Churches should think beyond Folgers. Churches should come face-to-face with reality and realize that Starbucks does not equal “good” coffee.

7. The Pastor Continually Refers to “Those” People in the Sermon

  • Simply put, it’s not just “those” people…it’s all of us. The language used in the pulpit should be more inclusive. That’s what I love about the pastors I have had the opportunity to serve with throughout the years. Every single one of them had the “we’re all in this together” attitude.

This hardly scratches the surface. So, what are some of the reasons you would not visit or return to a church?

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13 thoughts on “How to Make Sure I Won’t Visit or Return to Your Church

  1. Reblogged this on Thoughts From The Heart On The Left and commented:
    I wanted to “reblog” this because it echoes some of the thoughts I have expressed on a couple of occasions in the past.
    I have visited a number of churches over the years and very seldom have I been greeted. Now, I came for a specific reason so greeting was not high on my list (except the one time when the pastor wanted me to come and wanted to know what happened).
    I agree with the notes about the web site. I know where most of the churches in this area are and their starting times but I know that many newcomers to the area are going to check the website. If if is out of date or incorrect, they probably aren’t got to go there. The “find-a-church” function on the umc.org page is a great help but I think that many churches don’t even know it exists or what information about the church is given. Same thing about Facebook – Facebook is great if one can get to but is it set up for visitors?
    I think that the bulletin is the most crucial piece of written information that any church has; it is the one thing that is likely to go home with the visitor and provide them with the resources to follow up on any questions they might have.
    Coffee hour – I have actually been told that people should be grateful that they are getting a cup of coffee after church and that other “goodies” shouldn’t be served. If we see the coffee hour as part of the Sunday morning ministry, that is not a good thought to have.
    I hope others will look at this post and consider what visitors will see when they walk into their church.

  2. Reblogged this on Methodist in-Formation and commented:
    A good friend and colleague recently posted his thoughts on why he would or would not visit or return to a church? He is right in pointing out that it is totally unacceptable–regardless of the size of the congregation–to have a horrible website, inadequate childcare, a bad Facebook page, a bad church sign, serve horrible coffee and snacks, and to say your a “friendly church” when you’re really just friendly to each other. Anything worth doing–even the most basic things–is worth doing right. In fact, we should strive toward perfection in ALL that we do.

    So, what do you think? How does your church stack up? What are you excuses? Are you willing to do what it takes to attract a young family like the Morris family? I pray so.

  3. Pingback: Are you willing to change? « Methodist in-Formation

  4. I appreciate the comments, and all of those items contribute to creating a welcoming atmosphere. But for me, they miss the point. I go to church for two things – God and community. The service, and especially the sermon, has to speak to me. If they do not help reveal God to me and help me form a deeper relationship with God, then I probably will not return. Secondly, if the church is not personally welcoming to me – does not greet me, people do not go out of their way to meet me, and members and clergy do not take the initiative to incorporate me into their community – then I probably will not return. It is tough to walk into a different church, and more than anything, people want to feel at least some connection or relationship to the congregation. I hope that is the type of church I help to create now, and when I finish seminary as well!

  5. I think you missed the whole point, did the disciples miss having a good cup of coffee? The purpose of worship is for you to praise God, not for you to be entertained.

  6. I’m not saying churches should or should not have a bulletin, but they should have a take home calendar that tells people what’s going on and when. I’ve just moved to a new area and have visited several churches. All of them tell me they have great things going on from the pulpit or during the pre-service announcement slide show. 1) If you don’t tell me what’s going on, who to contact or where to go….I’m not going. 2) I’m not sitting in the pew 10 minutes before church and calendaring functions on my ipad or cell phone. Give me real, take home information about your programs so that I can pray over which ones I want to attend and then know who to contact and/or how to get to it.
    Pet Peeve #2. No signs to tell you where the bathroom is. Let’s face it, many churches have been added on to over the years and can be like mazes to newcomers. Whether you’re young or old or have children…when it’s time to go, it’s time to go! I don’t want to get lost trying to find the bathroom!
    Pet Peeve #3. Those pre-service announcement slide shows. I want to spend the moments prior to worship listening to music and getting in the mindset of worship–not checking my calendar.

  7. If you are ever in SC, visit a NewSpring Church campus. You’ll be greeted in the parking lot, at the door, in the lobby, and by the ushers. We have awesome childcare for newborns through 5th graders. The band is amazing and the preaching is funny and biblical. And the website is first rate: newspring.cc.

  8. No, the disciples didn’t miss a good cup of coffee…But, this also isn’t the 1st century. It’s not about being entertained…it’s about being connected to the community…which, I’m pretty sure the disciples had with Jesus…a connection. If I haven’t made a connection prior to the service, there’s a good chance I’ve already checked out and started thinking of a new place to find Christian community.

  9. I have found that a church that serves coffee with the attitude that “they should be grateful we even serve coffee” tends to have the same attitude about its ministry to others.

  10. Things that keep me from returning to a church
    – A pastor who says “If you don’t like what I’m doing, leave”
    - A pastor who tells you to look in the mirror on Sunday morning and ask yourself how God can use you and if you don’t know the answer he asks that you stay home and not attend church

  11. i personally think–JASON should have had this conversation at the 2012-CONFERENCE–talk about US members-NOT beg -4- more money 4 a plane–yes THAT is a great ministry-that pilot is definetly a man of GOD-but it should be an EQUAL MINISTRY–if @ each church -i saw ministrys 4 people in that church—yes i would be MORE willing to GIVE 4–OverSEAS ministrys–BISHOPS/HIGHER -ups need to GET-BACK -to the church pews–see the real needs of its people—or MORE METHODISTS CHURCHS will close–because they already SEE/THINK–its not about them…tkz-JASON keep talking

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