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The Importance of First Impressions

Posted: 8/26/19 at 12:45pm. Column by Steve Law.

People who come to your church for the first time are making a serious investment of two or three hours of their time, facing anxiety about going to a new place, and often entrusting their children to complete strangers. Churches must reciprocate by making their own efforts to make their environments welcoming and comfortable.

Here are some important things to consider:

  • Within a few seconds after walking through the church’s door, all guests know if this is the kind of environment where they want to return or potentially stay.
  • Lobby furniture tells guests the kind of audience the church wants to attract and keep. If the furniture in the entrance is old, then it tells newcomers that the target audience for the church is older people. Think about the restaurants you go to – what atmosphere do they create at their entrances and what kind of clientele they are attracting?
  • De-clutter the building by going through the hallways and rooms looking for things that are not needed and/or which distract people. Change the furniture, wall hangings, and anything else you have so that more things appeals to your target audience.
  • A good way to make all this happen is to recruit four or five 20- and 30-somethings and ask them to give serious feedback about the decor of the church (assuming you’re interested in targeting younger adults and families).
  • Newcomers are the people coming in your doors who are looking all around trying to figure out where to go. Greeters should be actively looking for newcomers and immediately stepping forward to talk with them.
  • Ask newcomers for their phone number or email. Always follow up with people who give you their contact information. Form a task force that contacts newcomers each Sunday or Monday to thank them for coming. It’s old fashioned but it works. People like a personal touch.
Steve Law has more than 25 years of experience in church and non-profit finance and administration, including many years in BGAV-participating churches. He can be contacted at steve@financeforchurches.org.