What New People Visiting Your Church Need This Sunday

I got a nice hand written (remember that?) letter from Richard Reisling today thanking me for putting his great stuff on my blog based on my thoughts about the notes I took from his visit. Well it’s my pleasure – and I’m not done yet! Here goes…

What new people need:

I NEED DIRECTION. They need someone to have thought about where they go, explain what’s happening with their kids etc. I was walking through Terminal 4 of Heathrow Airport recently and thought, ‘None of this just happened!’ It took SOMEBODY to think how all these people with all these needs, routes, cases, schedules… get around the place. We’re talking about things like signs here.

(I just made up a Christian joke about not having signs that make people wonder, but you have to be a charismatic to get that one).


Like when someone comes to your house. You know how to be hospitable already. Remove the following phrase, ‘Are you new?’ There’s no way to say it without offending someone. Ask instead, ‘How long have you been going to this church?’ Totally different!


How do you know if someone coming toward you needs encouragement? They’re breathing! So make people feel special. And let them know that they can have more information IF THEY NEED IT. That leaves THEM in control of their situation.

Have you noticed how it doesn’t work to say, ‘I love you and want to marry you’ on the first date? Well over the top gushiness is perhaps only slightly more off putting than grumpiness in welcoming.

Don’t ask them to raise their hand and admit to being a visitor. Don’t make them feel obligated to give their personal data.  Don’t call visitors out or make them do embarrassing things (by the way what I sometimes do is say, ‘If you’re an EXTROVERT here visiting with us, please let us know by raising your hand’. That works!). Don’t give them a hug. Don’t give them a mug. That doesn’t bring them back. If you think it will, you’re the mug. Instead…

Create something worth coming back to, and I’ll come back!

Give me…


In your message help them know, ‘ Here’s where you are right now… and here’s a next step challenge.’

RELATIONSHIPS I can connect to;

if I want to. And tell me how.

A VISION of where the church is headed.

Give me a glimpse of that exciting future you believe in (and if you don’t, do your community a favour, don’t open the doors again until you do).

Anything else? What do you think? 

The next blog will look at the questions your people are asking about whether or not they will bring a friend with them next week. Or ever.  You’ll like that one.

One thought on “What New People Visiting Your Church Need This Sunday

  1. How hard it is to keep the 99 and the 1 happy!

    Was thinking of Heb 4:15, Jesus was just like us but he didn’t sin. People need to see we are in fact just like them with the same struggles, temptations and yet we have a Great High Priest who is able to live God’s way through it all.

    Our new series on ‘work’ hits the mark as it’s where most of us spend the majority of our day, and also much of our thinking time when we are not there. How we deal with life speaks greatly to those around us – people at work cannot understand how I can remain calm and kind under pressure, but I’m sure they know it’s got to do with faith. Yes, we need to speak about what really matters to people in ways they connect with.

    I totally agree about making church legible for people who are new to it, I’m really pleased we make our services so easy to access, our language is plain, our explanation of what going to happen is great and most important we work hard on trying to be relevant. That way we make it easy to be ‘in’ and not ‘out’.

    Each of us is a ‘letter’ – remember when we used to write them, and not have backspaces, delete buttons or spellcheckers? People want to know we are just like them, but with the crossing-out included!!

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