Changing Service Times for Summer? Read This First.

Hey church…summer is quickly approaching. Are you ready? During the summer months, a lot of churches will consolidate their service times to accommodate a smaller summer crowd. If you plan on doing that, read this first.

Decide Early. If you haven’t already made this call for your church, do it yesterday. Don’t wait until the last minute and cause unnecessary confusion to your congregants and any potential visitors. And don’t just make this decision for your Sunday services…this should include your other ministries as well. For example, if your youth group will not be meeting during the summer months, that needs to be decided now, too.

Prepare Your Teams. Let your volunteers know what to expect before you start advertising it to everyone else. Give them time to decide if they can continue to serve summer service (1)during the summer based on the updated schedule. If not, it’s time to start recruiting summertime volunteers.

Get the Word Out. Start letting people know about the service time change as soon as possible. Post it on your website, your Facebook page, your bulletin, and announce it during your Sunday services leading up to the service time change. A couple of summers ago, one mystery guest told us this: “I arrived at the church for the second service only to learn that they had a combined service that day and it was half over.” Don’t let this be your church.

Double Check Everything. In our line of work, we see a lot of church websites, social media profiles, bulletins, etc. and it’s always surprising how many discrepancies we see in service times. Another mystery guest told us, “I checked the church’s website and found incorrect information that led me to the church at the wrong time. I visited thinking I was attending the 9:30AM service only to find they had switched their summer service (2)schedule.” Make sure the information across all of your sources of information is correct and that it all provides the same information.

Don’t. There is no rule that says you must change your church service times during the summer. Usually, when there is a change, there is also at least a little confusion. If you don’t have a good reason to change your service times, just don’t do it.

There are a lot of factors to consider when deciding whether or not to change your church’s schedule for the summer. For a smooth transition, be sure to let everyone know your plan, including your potential guests.

Tales of an Unchurched Mystery Guest

They invited me to visit the pastor’s home where a gathering was taking place later in the evening. I thought this was very special and made me feel very welcomed. (Click to Tweet)

Many churches see dozens of first-time guests each month. But how many of those guests return to your church for another visit? Do you know how your church is perceived by the visitors that walk through the front door? Our Mystery Guest Program helps you understand just that.

Each month we feature a unique first-time guest experience we’ve read about from one of the many mystery guests we send into churches. This month’s mystery guest experience comes from a 64-year-old unchurched female who visited a church in Baton Rouge… 

Is the Church Well-Known in the Area?
I stopped at a food mart approximately four miles from the church. I inquired about how to find the church and both individuals stated they did not know. Both said they had never heard of the church; however, they could tell me where the street was located so I could find my way. I told them I thought it was near another church and both individuals shrugged and said they did not know the location of that church either.

Could You Find Your Way?
If I had not made a phone call to the church to inquire about the location, I would have been confused in my attempts to find it. Upon arrival, I viewed signage listing numerous buildings that were visible from my car, however, I had to stop on the street to read it because it was a lot of information to go through. Parking was self-explanatory as the lots were across the street and side streets and are highly visible. A large sign on the building with the name along with the time of the service would be a welcome sign to avoid confusion. There were no signs outside regarding the service times.

The First Impression
I was not greeted by anyone prior to service beginning. Upon entering the room, I did see a designated greeter wandering around with programs in his hand. He nodded at me but did not speak. After I was seated, an individual that was walking around passed me by and said hello and I said good morning. That was the extent of my welcome prior to the service. Individuals began filing in and finding seats, but no one spoke to me during that time. I could not gauge whether they thought I was a regular attendee or a guest. The room and setting were quite lovely, comfortable, and inviting. On the screens at the front of the room were multimedia slides with several messages including welcome, how to find them on social media, upcoming events you might consider participating in, and details on children attending the service versus attending the children’s class.

Finding a Seat
Prior to individuals filing in for the service, I had my choice of seats in any location. Even after, there was still sporadic seating in many areas. The comfort of the chairs and the aisle space was very nice.

The Music/Worship
The music was nice, and the vocalists were very good. I was touched by the sincerity of the musicians, especially the guitar player who I later identified in the program as the reverend. His smile and passion were engaging. The lady vocalist was also very good and she sang along with the worship pastor. I felt a true sincerity emanating from this young lady. I was moved by the worship and wanted to engage in this portion of the service. This was easy to do because the two multimedia screens on the platform had the words to each song so we could easily participate. It was thoroughly enjoyable.

Greeting During the Service
The pastor welcomed the congregation at the beginning of his talk. He also welcomed new visitors by stating that you had the option to fill out a card located on your chair. Furthermore, he stated there was a table at the rear of the room where you could choose a welcome gift. His welcome was sincere and courteous. At the end of the service, he welcomed visitors again by announcing that we were welcome to stay after the service and enjoy a cup of coffee and meet the host family of today’s coffee.

The Message
The message embodied the images of what heaven and hell would be like both physically and emotionally. He painted a picture by using examples of our life experiences, thoughts, and feelings to fully comprehend both places. In other words, the best of life’s experiences is like a glimpse of heaven and the worst of life’s experiences are a glimpse of hell. Now that you have a glimpse, you can also realize that you have a choice as to what location you want to move toward. The message was quite enjoyable and easy to relate to. I thought the pastor’s message was very good.

The Speaker
The main speaker was the pastor. He was engaging and came across as being informed, sharing a message that was easily understood. Most of all, he was sincere. He utilized an actor who provided a dramatic skit or play of sorts to explain the pastor’s message. He was very talented and captured the attention of everyone, including me, with his wit, voice inflections, volume, and ability to speak as if he were various individuals. An excellent aid to drive home the message. This portion of the service was quite good. High caliber and artsy, yet informative and easily understood.

What About Kids?
There are children’s programs on Sunday nights with games, recreation, worship leadership training, etc. There are also programs for those adults interested in being trained for working with children. Youth services are on Sunday evenings with worship, fellowship, and dinner. All of these programs were detailed in their program. Children of all ages stayed in the service, and I assume that adults brought various ages of children to their respective sections prior to entering the main service. There should be an announcement to parents/guests that they should refer to their program to determine where their children can join others their own age for their respective programs/services. This was not done in the service; therefore, one crying baby remained in the service which was distracting.

What Happened After the Service?
About 80% of the attendees appeared to quickly depart. Numerous individuals spoke to me at this point (prior to my joining the welcome coffee event with the host family). The atmosphere was peaceful, positive, and calm. Because I am an outgoing person, I can make myself feel welcome; however, I do feel that if I were not middle class or above that I would not fit into this congregation. Regular attendees should interact with visitors by speaking to them. As the service came to a close, the pastor invited anyone visiting to stay for a brief time to enjoy coffee and refreshments with the hosting couple. We spent about 30 minutes visiting. While we were visiting, several members of the church passed by and they introduced me to several members who were very gracious and courteous toward me. Additionally, they invited me to visit the pastor’s home where a gathering was taking place later in the evening. I thought this was very special and made me feel very welcomed.

Friendliness of the Church
When I spoke to someone, they easily spoke back. Other than that, I did not find the congregation to be overly inviting. At the same time, I did not find anyone to be rude or uninviting towards me. I was especially impressed with one reverend who is an enthusiastic representative of the church. Another consideration might be to ask members to walk around pre-service as well as post-service and shake hands, speak, and come across welcoming to their fellow members and new visitors.

Information About the Church
I visited the website and found the service option and clicked on it to read for more information. It was informative. The Facebook page is informative and provides sufficient, up-to-date information. I visited their Instagram page, which I was unaware of previously. It is very nice! One recommendation I have regarding the website is that they add the address. When you go to their website, the only address is for the main church. When you click for directions, it takes you to the main church. It was not until I made a phone call to the church that I was able to obtain the physical address for this service. There was a welcome message in the program, on the multi-media screens on stage, and a verbal welcome from the pastor during his talk. There were cards to complete for contact or more information on each chair as well as at both entries to the meeting room. There were also welcome gifts on a table at the rear of the room with additional brochures on their initiatives along with programs and contact cards. The program contained many announcements for opportunities to join, how to get involved, or find more information.

Outreach Opportunities
I was impressed that they have such a comprehensive list of offerings and ministries for the community. It would be nice to have some sort of inner-city program offering a service for at-risk adults and youth. A one-hour contemporary service offered by a mainstream church is probably more enticing than you may realize. Unfortunately, I do not feel that enough of the community is aware of this option. Something to consider is more public service announcements, handing out flyers, and even running ads on social media to reach a larger audience. This might result in having to offer an additional service time if attendance overflows.

Church Follow-Up
I completed a card for visitors and received an email from the worship pastor. I was thanked for coming, invited back the following week, and asked to stop by the welcome table before the service. I also received a second follow-up from the church. They mailed a personally handwritten note from one of the pastors as well as a $5.00 gift card from Starbucks. A very nice touch.

Likelihood of Returning to the Church: Likely
The worship service and the pastor’s message were key for me to be interested in returning. Engaging with the host family at the post-service coffee was a nice touch that made me feel more engaged and like they truly cared about me finding a church home. At the same time, I did not feel pressured, which is great for making visitors want to return to the church.

Likelihood of Recommending the Church: Likely
I would recommend this church to others that are interested in a free-flowing, short service that still provides all the content necessary to uplift you, worship, and share the word of God. It was a pleasant experience.

The Last Impression
I was pretty impressed with the content of the service and the post-service coffee welcome. Finding a way to make visitors feel fully welcomed by the congregation in a non-intimidating way would be advantageous. More advertisement about the service would be great. I am fairly sure it is a hidden jewel in the city that others would greatly benefit from by attending. I am pleased to have visited this church and learned about their offerings and focus. Better signage outside and more information pouring into the community would be advisable.


Even when a first-time guest has a good experience, a church can usually still identify some opportunities for growth in their guest welcoming process. What do first-time guests say about your church?  Let Faith Perceptions find out for you. Our desire is to help churches become a welcoming and comfortable place for guests and the unchurched.


Hey Church – What Moms Really Want for Mother’s Day

Did you know after Christmas and Easter, Mother’s Day is the third-highest attended Sunday at your church? A lot of moms (whether they regularly attend church or not) will have no shame in asking their family to attend church with them for their special day. And they should because it’s a day dedicated solely to mothers.

So, here’s what that means: you’re not only going to see a lot of moms visit, but you’re likely to see the people that matter most to them as well. With that in mind, plan your services knowing that just like Easter and Christmas, you will have people visiting that aren’t connected to a church community and may not be connected to any faith whatsoever.

Know What Matters Most. Getting their families to church is only part of what moms really want. What they really hope and pray for is that their loved ones will be impacted enough to come back again. Moms care about their loved ones being connected to a church and hopefully to a faith. Make sure you have a plan to connect with and follow-up with these new faces. By doing so, you’ll honor the moms in attendance with their kids and other loved ones.

Be Hospitable. Mother’s Day may be the only time all year that some people accept an invitation to attend church (because again…moms have no shame in playing the mom Mothers Day 1 (2019)card). There are so many ways you can connect with these people and make a great first impression. You probably have some of these ways figured out already, but if not, we’ve given you some ideas here.

Be Sensitive. There will be all kinds of moms visiting your church this Mother’s Day. This means that mothers who have recently lost a child, moms that are estranged from their kids, foster moms, hopeful moms that struggle with infertility, anxious moms waiting for the adoption papers to go through, stepmoms doing their best to connect with their bonus kids, and so many more. Be sensitive to all of these situations and provide encouragement to them as well.

Whatever your church plans this year for Mother’s Day, just remember that focusing on what moms really want is the most important thing. Showing that you care about the people that they care about is key. A mother’s work is never done, especially when caring for those around her, but the church can provide a significant and practical way to help.

Tales of an Unchurched Mystery Guest

“The message was about living daily life in the law of God and engaging others, yet I was not engaged…”  Click to Tweet

Do you wonder what a first-time guest experiences when they visit your church for the first time? A lot of churches wonder how guests are treated and what they can do to make the guest experience the best it can be. Our Mystery Guest Program helps you see your church through the eyes of a visitor.

Each month we feature a unique first-time guest experience we’ve read about from one of the many mystery guests we send into churches. This month’s mystery guest experience comes from a 32-year-old unchurched male who visited a church in a suburb of Atlanta…

 Is the Church Well-Known in the Area?
I stopped at a gas station approximately three minutes away from the church. The clerk at the gas station was not sure of the precise location of the church. The man very politely stopped what he was doing to try and help. He said, “I know there are lots of churches around here but I’m not sure where that one is exactly. You might just have to drive up and down the road here until you see the sign.”

Could You Find Your Way?
The church is a bit spread-out and maze-like, which can be confusing for a newcomer. I passed two printed pieces of paper in the stairwell that were taped to the wall with an arrow pointing the route and the word “sanctuary.” These pieces of paper were ineffective. They led me to doors into the side of the sanctuary during the middle of communion for the earlier service. I was rather embarrassed. On my way back downstairs to the service I was looking for, a lady introduced herself and guided me to the gymnasium. She stated, “We’ve been meaning to put some signs up out here,” which tells me the church is aware that although the campus may be small, navigating your way around it is rather confusing and the lack of signage only adds to that confusion.

The First Impression
My initial greeting was from a couple that asked me outside of the church if I was looking for someone. They were intuitive enough to see I was clearly disoriented in a new environment. Although they pointed me towards the sanctuary and the wrong service, I appreciate their efforts to engage with me. The lighting and temperature of the gymnasium were a bit dim and the room was cool. I would recommend more lighting in general, and some space heaters for the cool winter months. Although I did not partake in the table of refreshments, these items provided a welcoming touch.

Finding a Seat
The seating was quite roomy. Each individual cushioned seat was lined into rows of ten on each side with an aisle down the center for entrance/exit. I appreciate that the seats were cushioned and also large. I did not feel trapped or claustrophobic.

The Music/Worship
The band and vocalists were very talented. I could tell their musicianship was fluid and well-rehearsed as well as cohesive. Although I was not familiar with the song choices throughout the service, it was easy to follow along with the lyrics being projected above the stage/band. My only recommendation would be to add an upbeat/up-tempo song at the start and close of the service.

 Greeting During the Service
The initial welcome was given by the worship leader. It was short but sincere and was a nice segue into the first song of praise. A generalized welcome to guests without having them “stand and be recognized” is much appreciated.

The Message
The summary of the message was to keep the law of God in your heart, on your mind, and on your tongue, and you will be prosperous. I appreciate how the pastor took the time to read from the Bible and then relate the scripture to the point he was avid to make. A few of the jokes he made didn’t land well and were not funny given the congregation’s lack of reaction. The message was digested, but I did not leave wanting more.

The Speaker
The pastor was slightly monotone. A variance in speech and pattern helps keep the audience and congregation engaged. My suggestion in regard to the message is to take more pauses, change variance in speech, and have a brighter tone in vocals, thus keeping the audience engaged and interested.

What About Kids?
I was given the impression that the children and youth play a large part in this church and are important to its future. I think it’s important to include and recognize the children/youth in “big church” before they are invited off into their youth service time. This church did this, and it showed that the kids were well taken care of and the activities they are involved in are important to the church.

What Happened After the Service?
Everyone seemed ready to leave. I can understand this, but overall it gave me a sense of clique-ish mentality. The message was about living daily life in the law of God and engaging others, yet I was not engaged post-service. Perhaps something as simple as a volunteer or greeter at the doors on the way out to say good-bye or have a great week would leave people with a lasting positive impression.

Friendliness of the Church
While I was provided assistance in navigating my way around the church in search of the service location, the sincerity vibe I received from the overall congregation was lacking. I couldn’t help but feel like a bit of an outsider. There were no “hey how are?” exchanges, or even smiles for that matter. The atmosphere seemed rather sullen. Training and providing multiple greeters would make an outsider feel more at home and welcome. Encouraging the congregation to greet one another at the start of service would also help.

Information About the Church:
The first thing I noticed upon browsing the church’s Facebook page is that the last post was made over a month ago. We live in the age of technology and the lack of posts in over a month raises questions for me. The church website gives off an amateur and outdated vibe as well. Although relatively easy to navigate, the content is certainly lacking. I would have loved to see more photos of what the church is currently involved in both within its walls and outside in the community rather than just generic stock graphics. A layout of the church grounds/buildings would be exceptionally helpful in navigating the campus on both their website and social media page. And a formal welcome area would be ideal for newcomers interested in this church.

Outreach Opportunities
Perusing the back of the bulletin, I found there is a dinner and classes offered on Wednesday evenings. Proceeds for this go to a school they sponsor in another country. The only community outreach-based activity that I saw printed in the bulletin is about a four-day mission trip to help hurricane victims in the state. I would love to readily see more information about what this church is doing for their community and state. While I’m sure there are other community efforts happening behind the scenes, they are not apparent on their website or in their bulletin.

Church Follow-Up
There was a method to leave my contact information, but I chose not to do so.

Likelihood of Returning to the Church: Somewhat Likely
I would love to return to this location after a period of time to see if modifications and improvements were made in the overall Sunday worship experience. It feels like a work in progress with potential

Likelihood of Recommending the Church: Somewhat Likely
I may recommend this church to someone with children who is active in Christ and eager to learn and grow.

The Last Impression
Overall, my take is that this church is in a transition phase. My suggestions are to improve signage. Feeling disoriented and confused upon arrival at the church is not a pleasant start to the overall experience. They should also teach and guide volunteers to engage with newcomers. For the service itself, they need to modernize. While you can still remain traditional in some areas, transforming the contemporary service and environment into a welcoming space would make it more appealing.

Because of this mystery guest visit, this church is now aware of some opportunities for improvement. It’s okay to be a work in progress…most churches are! The important thing is to not let your guests continue to feel “lost” in your church. Do you want to know what guests experience at your church? Let Faith Perceptions find out for you. Our desire is to help churches become a welcoming and comfortable place for guests and the unchurched.

Tales of an Unchurched Mystery Guest

“I felt welcomed from the start…the people I interacted with seemed sincerely glad that I was there visiting.” (click to tweet)

Do you ever wonder why someone visits your church but doesn’t come back for a second visit? A lot of churches wonder the same thing. Our Mystery Guest Program helps you see your church through the eyes of a visitor and helps improve the hospitality experience for guests.

Each month we feature a unique first-time guest experience we’ve read about from one of the many mystery guests we send into churches. This month’s mystery guest experience comes from a 64-year-old unchurched male who visited a church in Houston recently… 

Is the Church Well-Known in the Area?
I stopped at a Shell Service Station approximately one mile from the church. I was unable to receive any info about the church where I stopped. The employee I spoke with was unaware of the church. The church might improve its community awareness by utilizing radio and newspaper ads and having church members get out and talk with the community at large.

Could You Find Your Way?
Upon entering at the main sign (clearly visible) the most helpful signage was for the visitor parking. I was able to pull in and park directly in front of the sanctuary entrance. I did not see a sign showing the worship times on the outside of the building. It may be helpful to post these times for people stopping by on days other than Sunday when the sanctuary is closed. Although I was able to locate the restroom upon entering, there were no signs directing me to its location. It would be more direct to have a sign with an arrow directing the way. I saw no signage for the Children’s/Youth Ministry other than an exterior sign for the education building. This is a very large campus and explicit signage showing the direction to each area of the church would be helpful.

The First Impression
Two men were standing at the entrance to the sanctuary and greeting each person as they approached the door. I was offered a “Good Morning, welcome,” and the door was opened for me. I am assuming these were volunteers. I was also greeted by a woman once I was seated in a pew. She was very friendly, made me feel welcome, and asked if I was a visitor. I saw later that she was the one who formally greeted the newcomers/visitors from the pulpit prior to the service beginning. I felt very welcome throughout the pre-service period starting with the greeting just prior to entering the sanctuary door. Once inside, everyone I saw acknowledged me, saying “Welcome” or “Good Morning.” I was very impressed with the woman who came over to greet me once I was seated in the pew. She was very friendly, warm, and upbeat. There was also time taken for everyone in attendance to stand and greet the people around them just before the service began.

Finding a Seat
The pews were beautifully designed and very comfortable with thick cushions. The sanctuary is very large and had ample seating choices. The use of large-screen monitors and loudspeakers provided easy sight and sound throughout the service.

The Music/Worship
The musicians and choir were well-rehearsed and did a good job with the music selections. The band consisted of a guitar, bass, and piano. It may be of benefit to include additional instruments. For example, drums, another guitar or violin, flute, etc. I would prefer a more contemporary sound.

 Greeting During the Service
I was impressed with the greeting I received during the service. There was a formal greeting from the pulpit for newcomers following which the congregation was asked to stand and greet the people around them. A suggestion is to ask visitors who are so inclined to meet after the service where volunteers would be available to answer any questions they may have and to meet some of the existing church members.

The Message
The sermon had to do with as we give back to others, we become less absorbed in our self-ego and it becomes a humbling experience.  The congregation was advised to keep a gratitude journal of people, places, churches, and books that have had a positive impact on their lives. It is easy to get caught up in self and ego in the daily cycle of life’s business and pressures and anxiety can abound. Taking time out to observe and sense the cycle of giving and receiving and giving of yourself to others can lessen the influence of the ego. A suggestion would be to include more examples and suggestions to lessen the strain of ego in our everyday lives.

The Speaker
The service included a speaker who read from the Bible and a woman who gave a formal greeting to visitors. Visual aids consisted of large video screens where music lyrics and Bible passages were displayed. A suggestion would be for the speaker to include some humor and more personal stories and anecdotes to increase interest in the sermon.

What About Kids?
The service I attended asked children to come to the front of the sanctuary to receive a special children’s message. It was effective and all in attendance were alert and interested. The message for the children was regarding giving, specifically putting money into the offering basket as it is passed around. An anecdote was described of a man who had no money, so he stepped inside the offering basket saying, “Lord, I have no money, so I am offering you my whole self.” I found this to be very descriptive. This was a very safe environment as the children met at the front of the sanctuary and were accompanied by their parents.

What Happened After the Service?
Everyone remained friendly as they filed out of the sanctuary, smiling and saying hello. Everyone seemed cheerful and in a positive mood following the sermon. A suggestion would be to have newcomers who are so inclined to meet with church members and answer any questions they may have.

Friendliness of the Church:
I felt welcomed from the start, having been greeted at the door before entering the sanctuary. The people I interacted with seemed sincerely glad that I was there visiting and, when asked to stand and greet our neighbors prior to the service start, I was warmly greeted. It would be especially nice if some who greeted me prior to the start of the service were to follow up with a conversation after the end of the service.

Information About the Church:
The website and social media are current and inclusive of all facets of church business and offerings including sections for newcomers, worship services, getting involved, ministries, events, groups, volunteer opportunities, resources, and media, “What We Believe,” directions, contacts, and a campus map. The directions and particularly the campus map are especially helpful to the first-time guest as the church has a very large campus. It may be helpful to have a method for a member to join one of the groups or volunteer opportunities online and a name and contact for those in charge of same. Talking with a staff member or church member would help me most in becoming familiar with the church as well as attending the groups and classes listed in the bulletin I was given at the visitor booth. Any questions one might have can be answered at the visitor booth. It was in the lobby of the sanctuary although I saw nobody attending the booth before the service began. It was, however, open after the service ended.

Outreach Opportunities
The church’s outreach programs are wide-ranging, including domestic and foreign. Some of the outreach efforts include a food pantry, elementary school tutoring, a mission to prevent and end homelessness for families with children in the school district, and a hospital in Kenya. Respite care is provided for the caregivers of Alzheimer’s, dementia, and stroke patients, and they have a partnership in Costa Rica. The church serves alongside a local church as they reach out to the community. It would be helpful to make more people aware of the various outreach programs in order to reach more volunteers and those in need of the services.

Church Follow-Up
There was a method to leave my contact information, but I chose not to do so.

Likelihood of Returning to the Church: Very Likely
This church has a lot to offer and I would definitely consider returning for future visits. The members and staff were welcoming, and I felt valued and relaxed during my visit. There is something for everyone here: volunteering options, classes, and groups of your choosing and much more.

Likelihood of Recommending the Church: Very Likely
I would highly recommend this church. It has everything to offer: programs, classes, groups, and volunteer groups. I found the congregation and staff to be particularly friendly and welcoming.

The Last Impression
It would be very helpful for the church to provide campus tours for newcomers. Pairing up a church member with a visitor on a one-to-one basis would be beneficial. I was impressed with the relaxed atmosphere and welcoming attitudes of the members and staff. I would suggest making the community more aware of the church through notices via newspaper, radio, or tv, so as to attract visitors and new members. The church has a lot to offer and people need to be made aware of it.


Because of this mystery guest visit, the church now knows that the guest felt very welcome, but there are still some opportunities for improvement. No church is perfect, right? Thanks to the perspective of this guest, the church has helpful suggestions for making the community more aware of its presence. Do you want to know what guests experience at your church? Let Faith Perceptions find out for you. Our desire is to help churches become a welcoming and comfortable place for guests and the unchurched.

5 Things You Can Do to Make Your Church Website More Welcoming to Visitors

Thanks to all the technology at our fingertips, people are more likely to check out a business or organization’s website before they ever step foot in their physical location. This means potential visitors are scoping out your church website and using the information they find there to decide whether or not they want to visit. Your website’s most important job is to welcome newcomers. Below are 5 simple things you can do to make your website a more welcoming place to potential church guests.

1. Define Your Audience

Is your website overloaded with information? You may be thinking “Of course! Why wouldn’t it be?” Well, too much information is overwhelming to newcomers. All that info is great for your existing church members, but they’re not your focus. The goal of any good website is to connect with its target audience. For churches, that’s people who aren’t already a member. Maybe they’ve never been to church or they’re looking for a new church. Either way, you need to make sure you’re speaking to them and giving them only the essentials. Which leads us to our next point.

2. Give ‘Em the “Inside Scoop”

Your regular churchgoers know that the “Ascent” ministry is for college-aged young lightstock_435447_full_kate.jpgadults or that “Move” refers to your spiritual formation or Sunday school. Newcomers won’t have any idea what those words mean, though. These terms are common knowledge for insiders, but they can alienate your potential visitors. This doesn’t mean you can’t get creative with the names of your ministries. It simply means those names shouldn’t come without an explanation of what they mean. Giving this information freely to potential visitors will make them feel more confident when they decide to attend your services.

3. Have a “New to [Insert Your Church Name Here}” Section

If you haven’t already done so, create a page on your website that’s dedicated entirely to visitors. This page should offer up specific information about worship times and locations, directions, parking, kids’ ministry, where they can find guest information, and contact details. Don’t shy away from other details either. Guests will appreciate knowing whether they should show up in their Sunday best or if jeans are acceptable. The more specific you can be here, the better, but remember: don’t overload this page with information. Potential guests don’t need to know about your sports leagues or fundraisers. They need to know where to go, how to get there, and what time they should be there. For more ideas about what to include on your visitor page, click here.

4. Include Visual Content

Visual content drives engagement. In fact, nearly 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual. People don’t just want to visit your site; they want to experience it. Adding high-resolution, quality images or videos to your website will give potential guests a feel for who you are. Whenever possible, avoid stock photos. Show your visitors actual photos of the inside of your church, your members, and worship services. Not only will this help them feel more comfortable when they arrive, but it also makes your website more enjoyable to peruse. Without those images and videos, your church website tells visitors you’re, well, boring.

5. Make Your Site Mobile Friendly

Did you know nearly 60% of the traffic to your website comes from a smartphone or lightstock_173620_full_katetablet? Even if a potential guest already checked your website out from their desktop at home, they’ll probably pull your webpage up on their phone to get your address or directions as they’re headed out the door. Your site needs to be mobile friendly so it’s easy for them to find the information they need quickly. If they have to click a bunch of links or zoom in or out, they may become discouraged and give up entirely.

When was the last time you took a look at your website? Have you ever checked to see how it looks on your smartphone? Do yourself a favor and go take a peek. Then have someone else take a look, too. Find areas where you can improve and incorporate the above tips to make your website more visitor friendly. A clean, organized website shows your guests you care about making them feel welcome. As a result, they’ll be more likely to actually come visit your church.

If you’re worried your church website is making a bad first impression, our mystery guest program can help. We send people who don’t attend church regularly into churches as mystery guests, and we have them start with the website. In addition to finding out how your website is performing with potential guests, you’ll also learn a lot of other valuable information about how welcome visitors feel when they attend your services.

3 Ways to Honor the Whole Family this Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is one of the most highly attended holidays, coming in third behind Easter and Christmas. Why is it such a popular holiday to attend church? One probable reason lightstock_340788_full_kateis many moms tell their family all they want for Mother’s Day is to have everyone attend worship together. Another is it’s a simple, yet meaningful way to honor mom. Although most churches do a great job of honoring moms on this holiday, they fail to make the whole family feel welcome. Fortunately, you can honor moms while also honoring the rest of their family.

Be Inclusive

No matter how you choose to incorporate Mother’s Day into your Sunday service, remember to honor moms in all stages of life. Some women are trying, and perhaps struggling, to have a child. New moms may be struggling with all the changes and adjustments that occur as a new parent, some of which can be especially hard such as post-partum depression. Others may have lost a child. There are stepmothers and adoptive mothers. Others have young children or teenagers, while some are empty nesters. Some women have healthy children while others have a child with an illness or disability. By honoring all types of mothers, you’re honoring each family and the many different blessings and challenges they face.

Honor the Kids

Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate mothers, but keep in mind that not everyone in attendance is a mother. You may also have adult children who have lost their mother or lightstock_325774_full_katehave a strained relationship with her. Some of your attendees may now be their mother’s primary caregiver due to an illness or disability. Adopted children may long to know their biological mother.

Be just as inclusive when talking about children as you are when talking about mothers. Acknowledge their struggles and hardships. Honor their losses and grief. Being a mother isn’t always easy, and neither is being a child. These relationships are complicated, so recognize that. In doing so, you’ll make everyone in attendance feel welcomed and accepted in your congregation, which may make them feel more comfortable returning for worship on non-holidays.

Share & Connect

Honoring mothers and their children is important, but you also need to find ways to connect with them on a personal level. There are several ways to share and connect:

Increase the number of people serving on Mother’s Day. This is a highly attended service and we read often in our Mystery Guest Reports how guests are ignored because the church is so much busier than they are accustomed to being. lightstock_169732_medium_kate

Prepare your volunteers. Coach your first impression teams in the parking lot, at the door, and anywhere else to be cheerful yet sensitive to all your guests on this day.

Include personal testimonies. Consider asking in advance if a few mothers (or their children) would like to share their experiences and journey in faith with everyone. This could be done by video or live.

Give them something to come to. Plan a future family-friendly event they can participate in, like a spring festival or fair. The mothers in the congregation can pull the “mom card” one more time and ask the family to come.

Don’t forget to follow up with mothers and their families in the days and weeks to come. Ensure they know they’re welcome back and suggest programs or events that might interest them. For example, new parents may be interested in bringing their children to Sunday school, so they can enjoy fellowship with other parents.

Honor moms this Mother’s Day, but don’t forget to honor all moms—and their kids—by providing them support and making them feel welcome and accepted year-round. If you aren’t sure how effective the services you provide mothers and their families are, consider our mystery guest program. Through this program, we send mystery guests into your church to provide unbiased feedback on a broad spectrum of services, from parking lot volunteers to Sunday school. You can then use this feedback to improve and better serve your community. Contact us today to get started.

The Do’s & Don’ts of Church Announcements

Church announcements are an essential component for building and sustaining your church community, but there’s a right and wrong way to do them. Over the years, we’ve seen multiple complaints about lengthy or irrelevant announcements in our mystery guest reports. One guest reported,

“The church spent eight minutes passing the mic around for announcements and another eight minutes giving ‘family updates’ (joys and concerns). I felt like I was at a social club rather than worship.”

Making a few short announcements from the pulpit is a great way to communicate the same message to everyone at once. If they’re too long, however, you risk putting people to sleep or seeing them leave early. To ensure your church announcements are informative, yet concise, here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind.


  • Be brief. The congregation is there for the main attraction—The Gospel—not to lightstock_378331_full_katelisten to 10+ minutes of announcements. Keep them as brief as possible, otherwise they’re merely a frustrating distraction.
  • Focus on the essentials. Don’t try to cram a bunch of details into your church announcements—no one will remember them. Instead, focus on sharing two or three things and use other communication platforms for the rest.
  • Have engaging volunteers share announcements. These volunteers should not only want to share these announcements, but they should be excited to do so. Their excitement will show, making the process—and the information—more enjoyable and memorable for everyone.
  • Invite people to join. Instead of asking people to participate in an event, invite them. Rather than saying something like, “We need volunteers to help serve dinner to the homeless,” say “Our church is blessed each month to serve meals to the homeless and you are invited to take part.” Be sure to also include where they need to go for more information.


  • Forget your guests. As you saw with the mystery guest quote earlier, church announcements can turn an okay experience into a negative one. Your announcements should always include a welcome to guests, as well as information on how they can get connected.
  • Avoid insider language. You want to be brief, but don’t be so brief that only a few people know what you’re talking about. Make sure you include essential information, like a contact person or where to find out more, like on the church website. Don’t assume your guests—or even regularly attending members—will know where to find that information.
  • Stick to a singular platform. One size does not fit all. Every generation has their Website Viewing on Smartphonepreferred communication style, so you’ll need more than one platform to make your announcements. In addition to your in-church announcements, you may also want to consider videos or rotating slides playing before and after service, bulletin, emails, and even social media.
  • Leave out the good stuff. We’re deluged with bad news and people are constantly asking us for something, all of which is exhausting. Remember to include some good news in your church announcements that everyone can celebrate.

“The worship pastor gave announcements about the connection card, how to share joys/concerns, and other announcements that were on a monitor at the front of the church. I really liked that the announcements were done first. This prevented anything from being done once the service officially started that would have interrupted the worship mindset.”

Your church announcements don’t have to be long and boring, and your members and guests will probably thank you for making them shorter and more exciting.

Is your congregation snoozing through the announcements or are guests left scratching their heads in confusion? Our mystery guest program can help you find out. We send unchurched mystery guests or mystery worshippers into churches of all denominations all over the country to provide unbiased feedback. Armed with this feedback, you’ll know exactly which areas your church excels in and which areas need work.