Worship Media Arts

5 Things Visitors to Your Church Are Thinking But Won’t Ask

One of the things I enjoy most about my job is that I get to help churches see things from a different perspective. I’ve done a lot of consulting over the years, but recently that’s increased significantly.

As a consultant, I’m usually brought in to inspire new models of worship design/implementation. This usually takes place in the form of a two-day seminar. Part two of the process involves me attending worship as a sort of “secret worshiper”, so that I can give the staff a very honest assessment of what is working/not working.

Finally I give suggestions and solutions to the things I’ve identified as needing work in a post-worship lunch session.  Sounds dangerous right?

So far, no one has thrown anything at me, and I’m glad to say that I’ve had nothing but positive feedback.

I recently was looking back at my notes from the consultations done in 2011, and I found that there are some common questions all churches should be asking about their worship. Here they are:


1.)  Where am I supposed to go?

When I arrive at a church I’m consulting with, the first thing I do is walk into the building and to try and figure out where the classrooms and worship areas are. What I’ve found is that most churches forget that the building is foreign territory for a visitor.

Most churches have signage in place, but more often than not, the signage is not very prominent, can be confusing and sometimes can be interpreted as wrong; especially in older churches with lots of additions. Next time you walk into your building, look for your signage. Is it easy to see? Is it clear? Is it right?

2.)  Who are these people?
We have a real problem in the church: we assume people know a lot more than they actually do! Regardless of church size, introductions in worship are important.

Anyone who speaks in worship should be identified in some form or another. Doing it in the bulletin is ok, but a spoken word introduction is even more effective.

At one of the churches I consulted with this past summer – when it came time for the children’s moment – the children’s director came forward and led the kids in an interactive creative exercise. It was really good children’s sermon.  The only problem was, I had no idea who she was. She ended by saying, “ok, kids, let’s all go to children’s church now”, and she ushered them from the front of the worship space out of the room.

I immediately had two thoughts. First, if I’d sent my kids forward, and a seemingly random person got up, and ultimately took my kids with them, I’d (at the very least) be a little uncomfortable. If she told me she was the Children’s Director, there would be a higher level of comfort there.

Second, I probably would have thought, “I had no idea that sending my kids up there meant they’d be leaving for children’s church.” Since my son has food allergies, this would have meant I would have had to immediately leave worship and let them know not to offer him goldfish crackers.

There was an assumption that everyone knew how the Children’s Moment worked and who was doing it.

Introductions don’t have to be lengthy or complex. A simple, “Hello, I’m Jane, and I serve in the children’s ministry” would be a vast improvement. Don’t assume that everyone in the room knows everyone on stage/chancel.


6 Comments so far »

  1. Francis Wyatt said,

    Wrote on January 31, 2012 @ 10:52 am

    Hey Jason,

    This is good info that I know I have forgotten to do. We are also in the phase of “explaining” everything as we do take that for granted. Thanks for still being in the trenches to make sure that the “Church” is being all it can be for the Kingdom.

    Be blessed,


  2. Mike J said,

    Wrote on February 3, 2012 @ 11:31 am

    Great post! I especially liked #2. Greeting folks and making them feel welcome is so important to making new folks feel welcomed in the church.

  3. April C said,

    Wrote on February 15, 2012 @ 4:52 pm

    I see # 1 and #2 – can’t find 3-5 suggestions. So far these are really good things for our church to adjust.

  4. The MO Guys said,

    Wrote on February 15, 2012 @ 5:47 pm

    There is a 1. 2. and 3. at the bottom of the post. Under the social networking icons.

  5. Rev. Koni Purscell said,

    Wrote on March 14, 2012 @ 3:38 pm

    OK I found the last 3, sorry! Great work.

  6. Betty Miller said,

    Wrote on March 16, 2012 @ 8:25 pm

    Reading numbers one, two and three, I thought my husband wrote the problems. These have been “pet peeves” to him for a long time. He’s very observant of these in visiting other churches while on vacation at Hilton Head Island, SC and other places in the South. These problems tend to give the church a nonchalant atmosphere, non-conducive to a praise and worship service. These are characteristics the visitors rate when trying to find a church home. There’s nothing wrong with being friendly and checking in with friends and family while at church but not during church. Just my thoughts on these very well described problems.

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