Monday morning. The moment when I was able to properly reflect upon what happened at church the day before. The thing about being a pastor is the next Sunday is always right around the corner. You need to find time to reflect upon what happened the previous Sunday so that you, your staff, and your lay leaders can refine the Sunday morning experience. We get caught up in other things and don’t take the time to examine easy ways to make the experience better. In that spirit, here are five relatively easy things that your church can do right now to create a better overall experience for those attending your church.
1. Serve good coffee (and tea)
Very early in my ministry life, I was asked to lead a new Sunday School class. I asked the people who would make up the core of the class where they wanted to meet and they said, “Starbucks.” They wanted to drink good coffee while studying theology and the church didn’t meet both of those criteria.
Listen, it’s not all that expensive to have good coffee and tea available, along with various quality creamer options. It seems like everyone is drinking something caffeinated while at church, so make it good. Bonus points for also letting them take their beverage of choice with them into the worship space. People will come earlier, stay later, and be more engaged in having a conversation around the coffee station. Jesus turned water into wine, the least we can do is serve good coffee and tea.
2. Reframe your announcements
“Does anyone have any announcements they want to share with the congregation?” Please never utter these words in a worship gathering. There is a reason many waits out the announcement portion of worship (and it’s obviously not that they are outside enjoying your mediocre coffee.) We immediately get our worship gatherings off on the wrong foot by broadcasting insider language and sharing opportunities that are aimed at seven people.
This is a time to share two or three really important ministry opportunities that are important to the comgregations’s mission and vision. It’s a way for visitors to hear what’s important to the church’s ministry and see where they may fit. Tell people how they can get involved without saying, “we do this every year, so go see Tommy and he will get you signed up.” Share why this is important to the mission, how it will positively impact the community and exactly what they need to do in order to get involved. Whether your church has 60 visitors per week or 2 visitors per year, this is an important thing to do.
3. Signs, Signs, Everywhere There Are Signs
Take a moment this week to walk your church and check out the signage. Are restrooms clearly marked? Can parents easily find the nursery? Are classrooms identified? It can be difficult even for people who have been attending a church for several years to find particular rooms. Make sure your signs also match how you publicly refer to rooms. For example, if the Fellowship Hall is really Johnson Hall, don’t direct people to the Fellowship Hall. Direct them to Johnson Hall (and make sure it is clearly marked). It’s a good idea to include a map of your facility in welcome materials for visitors. I always gave a tour of the church to people taking our Newcomers class. It consistently ranked as one of their favorite parts of our time together.
4. Examine the Bulletin
Getting the worship bulletin right is certainly an art, not a science. It seems like everyone in the congregation has an opinion about what goes in the bulletin. Some congregations have gotten rid of it all together. It’s an important document in that it not only tells the congregation what is planned for worship but allows them to better participate. It’s also another chance to share the mission and vision of your congregation. Make sure names are listed by who is doing what during the service. Don’t list “pastor” as preaching the sermon. Include the scripture and perhaps some quotes or notes on the sermon. Give clear instructions on how practices such as communion and offering work. Make sure instructions for children’s worship or the nursery are easy to find. List how people can connect with you via social media or the web. These are just a few ways you can improve the bulletin and the Sunday experience.
5. Empower the People
We need teams of Elders, Deacons, Ushers, and Greeters. However, every person who attends your church plays a role in the experience of others. Please don’t let people feel like they have to find one of the pastors in order to tell a newcomer about a particular ministry of the church or where the bathroom is located. We’ve all known those who come to church week after week and talk to the same five people. Not only does this do no good for the community, but they are missing out on meeting new people and offering the ministry of hospitality. Challenge your folks to expand their horizons. Give them a sense of ownership and a passion for how your church makes people feel when you gather.
These are just a few things you can do to create a better experience for all on Sunday mornings. I’d love to hear what your congregation does well to enable people to experience the holy.