If you read this blog regularly, you know that my church consulting company, the Lawless Group, sends “spies” to churches to give us a report of their experience. They generally look for basic things – e.g., Is there adequate signage? Are the people friendly? Is the music well done? Is the preaching biblical? If I were to visit your church this weekend, though, here are some other things I’d watch for:
- Does your church seem to be expecting guests? I can answer that question by whether your church has trained greeters in the parking lot, a manned welcome center, and friendly faces at the door. If your folks don’t know what to do with me when I get there, it will be clear they weren’t expecting me.
- Does anyone ask me my name? Our experience is that “friendly” churches are friendly to people they already know – not necessarily to others. A wave, handshake, or “how are you?” cannot match a simple, “I don’t believe I know you. My name is _________. What’s yours?”
- Am I comfortable leaving my kids in your children’s area? Here are some things that would make me say, “no”: no adults in the room when we arrive; no check in process that asks about my child’s allergies, etc.; no security process that seeks to assure my child’s safety; easy access for any adult to get to where my child is; rooms that seem cluttered, unprepared, and unsafe.
- Does your church seem to enjoy singing God’s praises together? Here, I’m not concerned about the style of music as much as I am the fervor of the singing. I want to know if your congregation loves singing together. In most of our experiences, a church that doesn’t sing with passion usually has some underlying conflicts.
- Do your members have Bibles with them? The copy might be electronic or hard copy, but I still want to know that your members have their own Bible. That way, they make Bible study more personal and they model a walk with God for unchurched guests. I want inquirers and new believers to want to read the Bible, know it, and have their own copy.
- Does the preaching clearly call me to respond to the Word in practical ways? Church leaders debate our role in applying the Scriptures, but I’d argue that a sermon without application is an incomplete exposition of the text. I want you to push me to think about how my life should change based on the Word.
- Would I turn to your church for prayer support based on my day with you? Is prayer so real, so powerful, and so recurrent when your church gathers that I’d turn to your congregation if I had a need? For too many churches, prayer is only the expected start and end of a small group, followed by being a filler in the service so people can move on and off the stage without being seen. It’s not in their DNA – and it shows.
What kind of report do you think I’d give your church?