When new families walk through your doors what do they see? What do they experience? How are they treated? First impressions are often lasting impressions; furthermore research seems to indicate that our first impressions are made very quickly. I recently watched this short training video.
The video is not very long and is well worth watching. It got me thinking about what kinds of first impression our churches are making. Are they positive? Are we doing a good job of communicating God’s love through our words and actions? The video suggests that new families are asking the following questions
- Where do I go?
- Are they friendly?
- Will my kids like it?
- Will my kids be safe?
If a new family came to your church this Sunday, how do you think they would answer those questions?
To help you think about this I have listed a number of things for you to consider as you think about what you might do to create a good first impression.
Where do I go?
- Is it easy for new families to find their way around the church?
- Is it obvious where new families should take their children?
- Are the restrooms and diaper changing stations clearly identified?
- Have greeters been trained to welcome new families and show them around?
Are they friendly?
- Do members of the congregation take the time to welcome new families and engage them in conversation?
- Is your congregation friendly? This can be a hard question to answer when you have been attending a church for a while. The best way to find out is to ask a friend, who doesn’t go to your church, to bring their family to the services and make a report. You could provide them with this list of questions. Take note of the answers, as they could be very eye opening.
- Are children/families treated as a blessing or a bother?
Will my kids like it?
- Is children’s ministry a top priority at your church?
- Does your church work hard to engage children in age appropriate ways?
- Are your children’s ministry groups welcoming?
- Do you regularly talk about about welcoming newcomers and visitors with the children?
- Have you and the children come up with a plan of welcome?
Will my kids be safe?
- Is your church building clean and well kept? (This is particularly important question to ask about the entrance way, but you need to look at the nursery, children’s areas, and washrooms.)
- Are their any obvious physical hazards for young children that need to be addressed?
- Are the worship space, nursery, and children’s areas child proofed?
- Do you have check in and check out procedures in place for children being left in Sunday School?
- Do you have a safety protocols in place?
- Do you share these protocols with parents?
We only have one chance to make a good first impression and a positive experience will go a long way towards encouraging a new family to return with their children. It’s worth thinking about what kind of first impression we are making and addressing any problems.