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Months ago I had a conversation with a pastor over lunch. I had recently visited his church and, I must say, I liked it a lot. His church had an amazing band and had a lot of young people serving in prominent positions in the church. It was growing and had a lot of positive momentum. By outward appearances, everything was working... and it was working well.
When he told me how many visitors they'd had recently I asked him how he was doing quality control with their visitor experience. He replied, "That takes care of itself. People vote with their feet and and with their finances. As long as people keep coming I know it's working." I was honestly shocked to hear this, although I didn't let him know that I was.
Last weekend Robin and I visited a large church in another city led by a pastor we respect a lot. We were directed by the parking lot crew to park near one of the church entrances. It was a large building so we didn't know where to go. We walked in 20 minutes before the last of the multiple services was to start. No one was there to greet us. We wandered aimlessly, confused by the signage. Although it indicated multiple auditoriums nowhere did it say which one hosted the adult service. We wandered the length of the building - past the youth room and an auditorium apparently used for the new members class - looking for the main auditorium. In the 4 - 5 minutes it took us to find the main room we passed by several volunteers. We received three smiles (I counted) as volunteers stood at their posts, but NOT ONE PERSON said hello, welcomed us or offered to help us find our way around.
When we got to the main auditorium there was a young lady that smiled at us as we entered, but she never offered a handshake or a hello. She simply opened the door and smiled. We went in and found a seat near the front. A couple of ushers came by and said hi to a couple near us. They left before the service started, not even acknowledging us as they walked by.
The service was good, and everyone on stage did a great job. When it was over they dismissed everyone. We walked to our car, which we discovered was near the back entrance. Again we walked past numerous volunteers, but this time we didn't even get a smile. We got in our car and left. I was sad. This church had a LOT to offer, but they had FAILED at connecting with visitors.