10 Statements Church Visitors Never Want to Hear

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Church Visitors

image credit: CreationSwap user Beaty Bass, edits mine

You’ve been a church visitor at some point, right?

Ever heard something you wish you didn’t hear, right off the bat?

I’ve got a few that nobody really wants to hear. Some I’ve heard personally. Others I’ve heard as they were told to someone else.

10 Statements Church Visitors Never Want to Hear

1. Our pastor isn’t normally this _____.

Insert whatever you want in this blank: loud, obnoxious, offensive, long-winded. If you have to explain part of your pastor’s style because you know that outsiders won’t like it, you’ve got a problem. Talk with your pastor about that.

2. We’re full. Sorry. 

Always have a backup plan. Always. If someone sees that your service is full once, they’ll deal with it. But they probably won’t come back if they don’t see a plan you have in place.

3. What are YOU doing here?

Never say this. Never. Your shocked, open mouth reveals your judgmental spirit…at least in the eyes of visitors. When you say this, all they can think is, “God couldn’t really love someone like you.”

4. You can’t serve now…you’ve got to be a member first.

Why would someone want to become a member if they’ve never had the chance to serve?

5. We don’t believe in serving coffee on Sunday mornings.

If you say this, I can only assume you are leading a church in the pit of Hell.

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Ben Reed About Ben Reed

Ben is the small groups pastor at Long Hollow, a multi-site church in the Nashville, TN area. In addition to pastoring, preaching, and writing, Ben has a great passion for coffee. Good coffee, that is. And CrossFit. But not at the same time! You can journey along with Ben at BenReed.net!

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  • Wanda Harris

    I agree with all but #4. The bible tells us to know those who labor among us. Maybe 10 years ago we could have gotten away with this, but not in today’s society – especially with changing laws. Membership is the responsible thing to do. I especially think it’s dangerous to let visitors serve in the nursery, children and youth departments without being properly screened (including submitting to national sexual offender background checks). Also, what if after allowing a visitor to serve on the worship team (or any other area of ministry whether practical or spiritual service) you discover they are practicing a homosexual lifestyle because they start bringing their partner with them to church? Do you realize if you then ask them to step down from that area of ministry until they can acknowledge this lifestyle is displeasing to God and repent of it, that they can sue you in court for discrimination and actually win (it’s happened by the way)? Our church loves and welcomes all people regardless of their lifestyle, diversity, etc., but before they can be married or minister (at any level), they must first be a member who fully understands & accepts our core biblical beliefs.

    • Adam Stocker

      While I completely agree that we must make sure that those who serve in specific areas, ie. nursery, worship, counselling, etc., there certainly are many areas that new guests can serve even as visitors. Such as landscaping, janitorial and many others.

  • http://www.austinmccann.com Austin

    Great thoughts! Making sure visitors have a great first visit is always a huge deal at our church. However, I somewhat disagree with one of the points made in this post. Number 4 says you can’t serve until your a member. I actually think that is a good thing. Here is what I mean. Until someone goes through our one-day membership class, had an membership interview with a elder, and submitted their faith story, we will not allow them to serve in some areas. Thats why I said I disagree somewhat. There are some areas they could serve, but many areas are just for members. Why? Because we don’t want someone that is not a member serving in a area where they are teaching or pushing out our doctrinal beliefs and theology. We need to make sure they are on the same page with us and that happens through membership. A good church is hard to get in and easy to get out.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509116734 Carlton Anderson

    “Please stand and let us welcome you.” or “Let’s stand and greet each other. Try to find someone you don’t know . . .”

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  • Dee

    I’m sorry, this section is reserved for members only. Seating for visitors in the overflow or the balcony. That would be a church that I would always be in the overflow or the balcony. Becoming a member would not be an option.

  • Diane

    When I went to church without my husband, I was always asked where he was and why he didn’t come. I certainly wanted him there more than they did but it didn’t happen for years. Having to defend my being alone every Sunday made me feel they were blaming me for not getting him there. It also emphasized the problem in front of others. They also asked where he was or what he was doing instead of being in church. And if I answered, I would get “the look” that showed they didn’t think what he was doing was right. All this was layed at my feet. I’ve also seen this done to parents whose children don’t always attend (older teens or young adults). It’s rude, judgemental and drives people away.

  • Pat

    Don’t be overly friendly to the point of being clingy or annoying. I once served a church that had a “Care Team” that were the greeters for the church. When the ministry first started, they would deliver a small gift basket to visitors after they’d been to the church and were trained to be outgoing. However, you can overdo this. One African-American couple in this predominantly white church shared with me (also an African-American) how one woman was so insistent about them getting together. Unless people are comfortable with you as a person, they’re not likely to want to get together with you personally. For this couple. I think it came across as though the person was trying too hard because they were a minority. Just be yourself and give people room. Some people want the time and space to acquaint themselves with a church before committing and making a lot of friends. Sometimes when we’re overly friendly, it can come across like desperation. People should continue to visit and eventually join a church because they genuinely want to, not because they feel pressured to do so.

    It’s better to train greeters to learn how to read people and match their temperament. There’s nothing worse than being a quiet and reserved person who feels like they’re being bowled over by an extremely exuberant person or an outgoing person feeling as though they’re the welcoming one to the shy, introverted greeter.

  • http://www.heteroseparatist.com Mantronikk

    “Why didn’t you come to the men’s retreat?” I was asked this by a pompous deacon once, his tone of voice turned me off. After spending three years of my young life in a cult-like “Christian” church, I no longer tolerate people pressuring me to come to extracirricular church meetings. I stopped going to that church.

  • http://mastonjackson.com Maston Jackson

    “That’s where the Jones’ sit.” (With the accompanying “you’ll have to move” glare.)

    • CV

      We actually visited a church with our whole family (8 of us) and we sat down in an empty pew, only to be asked to get up and find other seats because that was the “Smith’s” row! The usher just stood there until we all got up and moved to places all around the church in groups of 2 or 3. Talk about feeling conspicuous and unwanted!

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