Christmas is coming! Did you know that? It means traditions like Christmas trees, presents, snowmen…well, not in Texas. It was 80 degrees today….on December 4…..sigh.

But there is one tradition lots of families participate in at Christmas that many of them don’t do regularly: go to church. That’s right! Company’s coming over to your church family’s house! Are you ready for them?

We all have that uncle that belches really loud or the cousin who makes all the backhanded comments and we’ve learned to live with it. But imagine you’re bringing some friends with you this year to celebrate Christmas.

You start to prepare them.

Now, Uncle Jim is going to bark like a frog after he eats, so sorry in advance! And when my cousin Lindsey says that Lord of the Rings is stupid and you try to explain how fantasy epics help us escape the problems of the world we live in and she says she doesn’t understand why anyone would want to escape the world we live in and I have to tell her “because you’re in it” just be cool.  

Well, what are you going to have to prepare guests for at your church? When it comes to first impressions, there are six things I hope no guest has to see at your church this season (or ever, really).

A Busted Website with Bad Info

Honestly, if they see this, it probably means they won’t have to see the rest b/c they won’t come. This is the new front door of your church and I’d be willing to bet that nearly 100% of your guests will check you out on the web before deciding if they come.

They may still decide to come to your church anyway, and I truly hope they do, but why make it a barrier at all when you can simply update the info on your site. I always say that a website that’s up to date can make up for some of the ugliness of a site.

No Social Media Presence from Pastors

Most pastors are afraid of social. But ignoring it takes your platform to talk about the culture away. If I go to a church and the pastor start to tell me about the dangers of the culture, but he himself isn’t involved in the conversation online, I’m going to probably view him as “out of touch.”

How can he tell me how to navigate the culture that he’s not part of? Face it, culture is happening on social media. Pastors don’t have to post incredible stuff, they just have to be present. It wins big time points just for trying. Pick one platform you kind of like and just do that.

Too Many Asks

If the only time you actually talk to your congregation on Sundays is to tell them what you need from them, it’s a turn-off. Of course, pastors are going to talk and teach in the sermon and the worship leader is going to talk a little bit about the music.

Tell a story, interview a member, just do something that can draw people into the conversation instead of being spectators the whole time. Stop making your announcements about information and make them more about inspiration!

Elderly Greeter Gangs

Waving hello real quick and getting back to their conversation with other greeters is the fastest way to tell a guest “you’re going to have to work hard to get anyone to care about you here. Good luck buddy.”

It’s like you’ve wandered into an unfamiliar part of the neighborhood looking for some friends to play a pick-up basketball game only to find a gang of greeters eyeballing you like you’ve just walked onto their turf. Turn off.

A Bad Bulletin

How easy is it to find social and next steps class? What does the bulletin tell guests about the church? If it’s wall to wall text crammed in together your brain is going to say, “dude, you’re looking at a big mess of ants! Put that down!”

Then they will. And they’ll never know how good Gloria’s chicken spaghetti is because they won’t know about the potluck on page 4. (Why does your bulletin have FOUR pages?! Geez.)

A Connect Card that Requires References

Seriously, what’s with the crazy-long guest cards? Are you even going to give me an extended time of peace to fill out said card before you require it of me when you pass the plate? Why do you need to know all of this information? What’s going to happen to my info? Who will see it?

All of these questions and more will run through your guests’ heads. So make it easy and quick to fill out. Just get what you need and when you follow up, you can get the rest. Think about how filling that card out affects the guest’s experience at your church.

That’s just my six. What else is there? Do you have a list of things you hope no guest sees when they visit you this season? Tell me what I need to add in the comments and we can figure out what to do about your uncle mort who picks his nose constantly. (Mort is a greeter. He shakes hands. Shudder…)

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