1. Keep your webpage accurate. It needn’t be snazzy, but the service times and locations, events, etc., need to be up-to-date.
2. Provide print or oral cues to help people through your order of service. Tell people to sit, stand, kneel, etc. Be explicit about how (and if) guests should take communion (my opinion is not, but that’s another post). Say, “Let’s pray,” before you pray. And while you’re praying, no taking breaks to address the congregation instead of God. Nothing’s more awkward than wondering if one’s eyes should stay closed.
3. Make information easy to find. Your website and sanctuary should have your statement of faith, a map of your location (if needed), and a detailed list of the programs and ministries your church offers (complete with addresses and times).
4. Let guests fly under the radar if they want to. Don’t make them raise their hands, stand up, or otherwise point themselves out. Be friendly, but don’t swarm them.
5. Remember that visitors and new members don’t know everything. Pastors, elders, deacons, etc. tend to be “in the know” and they forget to make information explicit to everyone else. Years ago, I attended a church for a while and decided to attend the college group. This is what the bulletin said: “College group. Smith’s house. Sunday evenings.” I didn’t know who the Smiths were, where they lived, or when I should show up (Five? Eight?). I’m embarrassed that at my current church, announcements are made like this: “Sign up for Men’s Retreat! Talk to Bob Smith. You know who he is; everyone does.” Um. . . not everyone does. Everyone on the pastoral team does.
6. Sing the words you project on the screen. If you want to sing different words, talk to the tech person before service and have them changed.
7. Be flexible with childcare options. Don’t insist that visitors leave their kids in your nursery and classes on their first visits.
What would have helped you as a church guest?