The new reality in my life as a Superintendent is that I get to worship with a lot of different congregations. As I experience being an itinerant worship attender, I have been working on a list called “Things that every church can do”. I shared my list at our South District leadership training event a couple of weeks ago. Since many people were unable to be at the event, I thought that I would share with you the items that are currently on my list. In no particular order, here we go:
– Have someone outside greeting people. We have very little time to make a good first impression with our guests before they decide if they are coming back or not.
– Use common language instead of “Church Talk” (like: UMM; UMW; UMCOR; UMYF; UMVIM; SPRC).
– Use the same kind of hospitality at church as you would at home.
– Unclutter your church. Prepare it for guests.
– Always expect, and plan for, visitors.
– Use name tags. It is hard for new guests to learn names.
– Have name tags that look the same for everyone, including visitors.
– Give a clear invitation for people to join the church, and instructions on how to do so.
– Have a web-site. This is the new front door for churches.
– Make your address and times clear on your web-site.
– Keep your web-site updated.
– Do an occasional search on the web to see what comes up for your church. Try to get rid of information that is inaccurate.
– If you have church signs with worship times on them, make sure that they are correct- Have words available for all songs, and anything that is recited.
– Go and sit with visitors. It is amazing how many times even as the Superintendent no one joins me on my pew or row. If we don’t do this for someone recognized as the Superintendent, what happens with other people?
– Learn the names of visitors.
– Follow up with visitors in a timely way. The church that I attended on Christmas Eve in another Conference contacted me 21 days later. That is not a very helpful practice.
– Introduce visitors to members of your church.
– Have a clear vision of what you are trying to achieve.
– Have a plan for guiding people to be stronger Christians.
– Have your focus on saving people, and not saving the church.
– Don’t burn out leaders. Encourage self-care.
– Consider ways of using technology, like ZOOM. It might be appealing to have an evening study or meeting where no one has to leave their home! This might also be a way to keep seasonal members involved.
– If you have snacks after church, have a variety of things so that everyone has a chance of finding something that they can eat.
– Send leaders occasionally to other churches. This gives them a chance to see through the eyes of a visitor, and to experience what other churches are doing.
Have a prayer box on your property for neighbors who need prayers. In the same way of thinking, have an e-mail address for people to send prayer concerns. Have a designated prayer team to pray each week.
Have prayer teams to walk through your community praying for your neighbors. Team members could wear shirts that say “Prayer Team” so that neighbors will ask questions.
Occasionally set up a prayer table on your property to pray for those who stop. The church could give away lemonade and snacks if desired.
This list continues to grow every week. There are so many possibilities of things that every church can do!
Your brother on the journey, Mark