Rather than tell you how things should be, today I’ll simply pass along how things are. Recently I contacted several guests that have gotten plugged into our church over the past few months. One of the questions I asked them was “what made you come back to Mt Vernon?” Based on their responses, I’ve pulled out three things that a church can work on to make help keep and plug in guests that come to your church.
1. Children’s Ministry – Parents can put up with almost anything. Kids are the key. If you can create an irresistible environment that draws and keeps kids (birth through teens), they’ll drag their parents to church. Here’s how one guest put it,
- My children were the reason we started visiting. My oldest had been coming on Wednesday night and we decided to try Sunday mornings. My youngest was hooked after that. He loves it and I never have to talk him into going. He is always willing.
2. Style of Preaching – The sermon is the pinnacle of the worship experience for a reason. You can put up with mediocre worship if you have a strong communicator. It’s very hard for worship to compensate for a mediocre communicator. I say “style” of preaching because all sermons should be based out of the Bible. That’s not the problem. It’s the way the preacher engages, the way he brings Scripture to life, and the application that helps people apply biblical truth to their every day lives. Here’s how guests put it,
- We have felt welcomed and I enjoy your sermons. It feels more like you are just talking to us rather than preaching at us.
- One of the main reasons what I decided to keep on coming back and invite more of my college friends to Mt. Vernon is the teaching of the word. The Bible is being taught in a very powerful but relatable way that there is no way you can deny God’s presence.
3. Friendly/Family Atmosphere – People want to go not only where it feels like home, but where it feels like their home. They want to go where they feel like they belong. That’s up to the friendliness of the existing members, their willingness to share their seats and get to know guests. Here’s how the guests put it:
- The positive attitudes were everywhere. I knew I wanted to be a part of it. That was so special to feel that you had not even been at the church 5 mins and someone knew your name.
- We came back because it felt like a family, like we have always been there.
(*One of the main responses was something to the effect of “God wanted me there” or “I felt God there.” As important as that is, it’s not something we can directly affect on our end. But we can do the other three, and by doing them faithfully I believe we create an environment where people sense God’s presence.)