Do you ask guests to fill out a connection card in your church service?
Growing up in the church, we always had those little cards in the pews or seat-backs. I remember because I spent time in every service making little paper airplanes and passing notes written on the cards.
After graduating from paper airplane manufacturing, while visiting some other churches, I noticed they too had a similar card in their seat-backs. I filled them out occasionally. In most cases, I never heard from the church. In some cases, I heard too frequently.
At Watermarke Church where I lead, we do not ask guests to complete a card or provide us with any information. We do offer a gift at our information tables and specifically welcome guests at the top of our service, but we never ask for anything in return. We don’t publicly recognize them or ask that they identify themselves. For what it’s worth, here are a few reasons we don’t ask guests to complete cards:
How much attention do you give the welcome segment in your church service?
If you are like most churches, the answer is little to none. I mean it’s only a few minutes, anyway. How much time should we spend planning something so short and insignificant? And isn’t a “welcome” just a transitional element so the band or choir can get ready?
You might be shocked to see how much time at Watermarke Church we spend evaluating the welcome. It is only a 3-minute segment of our 60-minute service, but like every facet of our service, we desire it to be excellent, intentional, and strategic. We discuss every phrase we use. We evaluate the energy we bring. We consider how our words might be heard or interpreted by guests and non-Christians. In some ways, communicating a 3-minute welcome at Watermarke is as stressful as the 35-minute message!
Do you consider your church service weird?
Most of us church people don’t, because we are church people and it’s our service. And honestly, as church people, we are just used to the weirdness. But when an unchurched person attends your church, odds are they will encounter a few things they consider strange, such as:
If your church sings songs about God, Jesus, Heaven, and the like, it is probably weird to outsiders. Imagine walking into a large room where people are collectively standing and singing songs about blood, healing, and praising an invisible God who we trust with our life even though he apparently is more concerned with being praised than giving us what we want. That’s what we sing. Come on… that’s strange.
2. Sitting and Standing (and maybe Kneeling)
At most churches, we stand up at times, sit at others, and it’s nearly impossible to know which is which if you’re new. Weird. It can feel like a child in a dance recital who is always one step behind.
3. Responsive Reading
I’ve not participated in this for a while, but imagine being an unbeliever, being asked to repeat “truths” about a God you aren’t sure even exists? Strange.
Is it a mid-morning snack? Is it wine or juice? Not to be irreverent, but it’s weird.
Maybe the weirdest of all! Adults allowing other adults to dunk them under water. That was fun in middle school, but as an adult? And if you wear robes, forget it! That’s even worse!
That’s only touching the surface. When we sit back and think about our church services, it’s pretty obvious that for an outsider or guests, experiencing what we consider normal can feel anything but.
So how do you make a church service friendly for an outsider without compromising the truth of Scripture or the traditions you hope to maintain?