Thom S. Rainer writes Becoming a Welcoming Church (along with its companion We Want You Here) based off decades of experience in church consulting and ministry in the hopes that churches will indeed become more welcoming in a way that unleashes “gospel transformation.”

One of the biggest barriers to welcoming people is quite simply that church members already think they are friendly to visitors.

Rainer learned not to ask church members if their church was friendly, because “their biases tell them their church is great.”

Instead, he chose to survey hundreds of visitors. Of those who didn’t return, here were the top 10 reasons:

  1. The stand-and-greet time in the worship service was unfriendly and awkward.
  2. Unfriendly church members.
  3. Unsafe and unclean children’s areas.
  4. No place to get information on the church.
  5. Bad church website.
  6. Poor signage.
  7. Insider church language.
  8. Boring or bad church services.
  9. Members telling guests they were in the wrong pew or chair.
  10. Dirty facilities.

On the flip side, some surveyed did return. Here are the top 10 reasons guest returned:

  1. Someone asked the guest to sit with her.
  2. People introduced themselves to the guests.
  3. There was clear signage.
  4. There was a clearly marked welcome center.
  5. The kids loved the children’s area.
  6. The children’s area was secure and sanitary.
  7. Guest parking was clearly visible.
  8. The church did not have a stand-and-greet time.
  9. The members were not push.
  10. The guest card was simple to complete.

Rainer focuses on how churches can see their church from a visitor’s perspective and offers advice on how to create a welcoming church utilizing much of the information gleaned from his surveys.

The book is an easy read, but filled with invaluable resources for helping churches lay a path for gospel transformation by first becoming welcoming.

(Disclaimer: I received a free review copy of the book from the publisher, but all opinions expressed are my own.)

Additional Resources: