It's been said, "You only have one chance to make a good first impression," and I believe that's right. Often, the most lasting impression you have about anything is the first one. Think about the last time you visited a restaurant for the first time. As you entered the door, you noticed everything about it: the host or hostess, the lighting, the music playing in the background--even the location of the restrooms. You noticed everything because you were unfamiliar with it. At church, we must create a great environment because there is nothing more important than the Church. Every week, your church displays "the manifold wisdom of God" (Eph 3:10) as His plan to reach the world. In today's post, I'd like to share three ways we can make great first impressions at our churches.
Smile, Smile, Smile
I'm an avid people watcher. I enjoy watching people interact and how they go about their shopping or leisure activities. And one thing I notice is that I don't see a lot of people smiling. Do yourself a favor and watch people shopping the next time you're at Walmart of Target and you'll see what I mean. People go through life carrying the weight of so much stress that they often don't smile so we need to make sure they see lots of smiling faces when they come to church. We have the best reason to smile because of what Jesus has done in our lives. So, place LOTS of smiling people in the parking lot and at the entrances so people know you're glad they are there.
Display Clear Signs
As a pastor, you know where everything is in your church but your guests don't. They don't have a clue where the children's check-in is located, where the coffee is, or even the restrooms. Excellent signage is the key to putting people's mind at ease by showing them clearly where to go.
Several years ago, Walmart went through a rebranding of their logo and, during that process, they changed the signage in their stores. When that happened, I found my local store was much easier to navigate. After the changes, I could look down the length of an aisle and see what products were on the shelves and whether or not I needed those products. We need to have the same attention to detail at our churches. We need clear signs, not to sell people a product but to prepare them for the message of the Gospel, something far more important than a diet soda!
Prepare Background Music
Music sets the right tone in any environment and playing background music before and after the service sets the right tone in our churches. The music should be familiar and lively. Again, you want people to be at ease, but now you want them to feel free to talk in the atrium. Nothing prevents a conversation more than a quiet space. By having music play in the background, at a fairly high volume, you're encouraging people to talk with others.
So those are my suggestions on how to make great first impressions. Pastor, what would you add or change to my suggestions? I'd love to hear what you think! Feel free to make a comment below today's blog or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.