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More, Trending | Sep. 16, 2014

How Not to Welcome Guests

How Not to Welcome Guests

When I was younger, my family lived far away from my grandparents, and we’d travel once or twice a year to visit them. I’ll always remember how my dad would remind us of certain house rules before they would even let us out of the van. They went something like this: “Always say yes ma’am and no ma’am, pick up after yourself, don’t bother their dog, and above all else … DO NOT touch their expensive coffee table.”

I remember how nervous I was at their house. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t mess up and leave my cup on their treasured coffee table. For real, no one was allowed to touch that table. In my young mind, I really thought that my grandparents might not love me if I touched that table. To say I didn’t exactly feel welcome in their home an understatement.

So when my coworker came across some rules for visitors posted on a church website, I couldn’t help but think that visitors to this church are probably feeling the same way I did about my grandparents’ house.

I won’t link to their page, but here are a few examples:

  • Please dispose of all gum, candy, and food before entering the sanctuary.
  • Photography prohibited.
  • Avoid walking, talking, or distracting anyone while scripture is being read.
  • Bring your bible to church and read it diligently every day.
  • Arrive on time and don’t leave until the service is complete.

Do rules like this possibly cause people (especially unchurched people) to feel judged by a church before even stepping through the church doors?

Are these rules creating an inviting and welcoming culture? I am going to say no. Posting rules and etiquette like this on your website might push lost and unchurched people away from EVER visiting church. I might be wrong, but I doubt Jesus would have cared if someone was chewing gum during one of his sermons.

Just something to think about as you write or update any content on your website aimed toward visitors. Think about the message you’re conveying. Think about how you can make guests, new and returning, feel welcome in your space.

Sarah Blackmon Church Marketing Specialist, d2design
Sarah Blackmon Church Marketing Specialist, d2design
  • I’ll never forget the first time I walked in the door of my church. instead of a welcome area or even a sign saying “welcome”, I was greeted by this sign mounted on the wall, right in my line of sight. It took me a couple months, but as soon as I felt comfortable, I removed it. As far as signs go, it’s not awful. (Who am I kidding? Yet it is. Why is the font on the first line different than the others. Ugh.) I understand the point someone was trying to make in putting it up. I just think there’s a better place for it than right inside the front door. So, for many months now, it has sat under my desk waiting for someone to ask about it. I’m glad to say that no one has.

    • That is such a welcoming sign (sarcasm).

      Glad you had the guts to remove it. Maybe others were just as happy that you removed it…