A Fundamentally Different Way to Look at Guests in Your Church

A Fundamentally Different Way to Look at Guests in Your Church August 28, 2017

Ben White
Ben White

For years growing up, the common knowledge I constantly heard about guests in a church was a simple question: “How do we get more guests to come to our church?” That’s not necessarily a bad question, although I would argue it’s seriously misinformed. The assumption is that guests are out there in the world, waiting to be found and engaged. If you can somehow convince them to come to your church, then your church will grow. They will walk through the doors, see what they’ve been missing all their lives, fall in love with the music and preaching style and sign up for membership. In this mode of thinking, the main problem is that guests aren’t coming to your church. So the solution is simple: find new and creative ways to get people to come through the doors of your building (insert your block party, outreach event, easter egg hunt, VBS or concert here).

But with this approach there are two faulty assumptions: 1). Guests are not coming to your church and 2). Your church is perfectly set up to keep guests once they come. Here’s something I’ve noticed over twenty years of ministry: guests are always coming to your church. Even on the Sundays you don’t plan on them coming, like holiday weekends. Guests are always present. Why? Because God is constantly working in the hearts of people to draw them to Himself. He’s constantly sparking a spiritual hunger inside them that drives them to seek fulfillment. Many times, that spiritual hunger brings them to your church. So, the assumption that no guests are in your church is a serious lack of belief in God’s ability to draw people to Himself.

So if your church isn’t growing, it’s not because guests aren’t coming. They’re coming every week, whether you see them or not. If your church isn’t growing, it’s because your weekend experiences aren’t keeping guests once they come. That’s the fundamentally different way to look at guests in your church. Don’t assume that they’re not coming but if they did your church would be perfectly set up to keep them. Assume they’re coming and ask yourself: what is it about your church services that are keeping them from coming back?

Is it the insider language that you have to be a long-time church member to understand? Is it the current membership that doesn’t welcome or talk to anyone they don’t know? Is it the preaching that would be perfectly at home in an academic lecture but is woefully unhelpful for a couple whose marriage is falling apart? Maybe it’s the music that harkens back to a time and tradition known only to church insiders. Or maybe it’s the lack of quality children’s programs that tells guests their children aren’t valuable enough to be cared for properly.

Whether it’s one of these or a combination of them all, don’t fall for the faulty assumption that guests aren’t coming to your church. They’re coming every single week. If your church isn’t growing, it’s not because guests aren’t coming, it’s because there’s something about your Sunday experience that is communicating to them that you don’t really want them there.

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