I just read a great blog from Mark Batterson related to a book written that reflects on church attendance experiences. Mark is a pastor of a multi-site church in Washington, D.C. and offers great insight in his writing.
Check out the Mark Batterson Blog post here.
Here is what Batterson surmises:
Here’s the bottom line: if we want to reach people who are outside our churches then we need to view our churches through the eyes of outsiders!
Here are some personal observations:
1) You can be Too Excellent.
I’m all for excellence, but you can be “too contrived, too slick, too professional.” There is a difference between soul-full and soul-less excellence. People perceive the spirit behind our preaching and singing and greeting! And anything that doesn’t come from pure motives is seen as hypocritical. Excellence isn’t enough! It’s got to be excellence coupled with authenticity!
2) Actions are the Best Apologetic.
I really think justice issues present the church with an amazing opportunity to show what we’re about. Yes, people need to know what we believe. But they would be more likely to believe if they saw what we do. We have a team of NCCers in Uganda right now building an orphanage. That may be the clearest expression of what we believe! That is a true apologetic! We need to silence our critics with our good deeds that are purely motivated by our love for Christ and His love for us!
We need to incorporate not just a call to worship but a call to action in our services. I think we assume people will know what to do with what we say. Bad assumption. We need to answer the question: what do you want me to do? Our preaching needs to be less theoretical and more practical. We need to be action-oriented and application-oriented.
3) Just Say Hi.
It’s amazing, but one of the reminders from the book is that an entire church experience can be defined by one hello or the lack thereof! And it can’t just be the greeters. It’s got to be the unscripted, unplanned moments. There is no replacement for genuine hospitality. Just say hi.
4) Keep it Positive.
Tone is just as important as topic when it comes to preaching. God speaks through our unique personalities, but there has to be an underlying humility. A negative tone is a huge turn off. We need to be more straight-up about what we believe to be right and wrong. But we also need to speak the truth in love!
5) People won’t listen to us if they don’t like us.
Lots of people have what I would call church scars. They have hurtful or irrelevant church experiences in their past and we can ignore that or acknowledge that. One of my favorite statements in the book was this: “When people like each other the rules change.” That’s a simple yet profound insight! People won’t listen to us if they don’t like us! I’m afraid the church’s likability factor isn’t super high because many people see us as judgmental and angry. We’ve got to get back to what should define us: love!