How to Make Sure I Won’t Visit or Return to Your Church

Today, I found myself thinking about some of the reasons I would not visit or return to any given church. So, I thought I’d share some of those and invite any of my readers to share their reasons too!

1. Horrible Website

  • I’m not really talking about design here…instead I’m talking about content.
  • In the world of church websites, I really think simple/user friendly websites are best.
  • However, some churches have incredible websites that make my jaw drop. I immediately want to visit some churches simply by visiting their homepage. But, this is not the norm, nor the expectation.
  • The expectation is that you will have up-to-date, accurate information. Seriously, if you aren’t going to update your website, you have two options: 1) Put very basic information that will not change often (worship times, location, phone number, etc.) 2) Shut it down.
  • For example, today I visited a website that had three major offenses: 1) The picture on the front page was of a church in a very urban setting. There would be nothing wrong with that, except the fact that this particular church is located in the middle of a cornfield in central Indiana. 2) The most recent “church event” listed was for a family night…four years ago. 3) The “pastor page” featured a pastor who has not been employed by that particular church in three years.

2. Inadequate Childcare

  • Before I had children, I totally under-estimated the importance of high quality childcare. I always thought parents were just being hyper-sensitive. I was wrong.
  • The quality of your childcare and the condition of your nursery/childcare areas will indicate whether or not you really desire to have young families in your church.
  • Whether you regularly have children in worship or not, you should always be prepared with childcare. Churches should get into the practice of expecting to have visitors…and visitors with children.
  • As an example, several years ago I visited a church on Easter Sunday. My oldest daughter became restless in the middle of the service. To be honest, I was getting restless too. So, I looked in the church bulletin and found out where the nursery was located. We discretely exited the service and made our way to the nursery. When we arrived at the “toddler nursery”, we found a locked door and a dark room. A staff member walked by and I asked about childcare. She looked at me and said, “We never offer childcare on Easter Sunday”, as if I should have already known that. So, I looked in the bulletin, it did not state anything about not offering childcare. There wasn’t a note on the door. I asked if there was any way she could let me in the nursery. She reluctantly let me in. By the end of the service, the nursery was filled with 4 parents and 7 children. Seems like that church might want to “rethink” their childcare ministry.

3. Bad Facebook Page

  • Much like the website, what is the point of having a Facebook page (or any other kind of social media page/account) if you aren’t going to utilize it?

4. Bad Church Sign

  • Just do a Google search for “bad church signs” and that will explain this one. Too many churches offend me before I even get in the door.

5. You Refer to Your Church as a “Friendly Church”

  • I have found that “friendly” churches are usually only friendly to club members. You know what I mean…we are friendly to those who are already our friends. We visit and spend time with our circle of friends and rarely, if ever, reach out to people outside of our small circles. I have watched this take place during every single “greeting” time at every single church I have served. Now, there may be one or two in each church who break the mold…and they are awesome…but they are too few.
  • I have visited churches known to be “friendly” and “hospitable” only to experience the opposite. Here is an example: Before I got married, I visited a church in the greater Elkhart area known for being “friendly”, “hospitable”, and “cutting edge”. This was a possibility because they had some evening services. I walked in and made my way to the information booth. At the information booth, everything was self-serve. I filled out an information card and grabbed some pamphlets about ministries that seemed interesting. I walked into the sanctuary and grabbed a seat in the middle of the room. I noticed the church was filled with people in my peer group. I was hopeful. I listened to the band. I stood up during the “greet one another” period. I listened to the sermon. I listened to the band. I stuck around for a while after the service. I walked out the door, got into my car, and didn’t talk to a single person until I walked into my favorite little pub in Goshen and was warmly greeted by the bartender and had a great conversation with others sitting at the bar.
  • If churches want to be “friendly” and “hospitable”, we need to figure out how to make everyone feel that they are welcome, invited, and valued.

6. Bad Coffee

  • You might laugh at this one, but I will seriously not return to your church if you serve me bad coffee.
  • I will pre-judge the quality of your entire ministry based on the coffee you serve. If the coffee is excellent, you will have raised the bar and I will be excited to see what else the church has to offer. If the coffee is lousy, I won’t expect much from the band, sermon, discipleship, or outreach opportunities.
  • In 2012, churches should NOT be having conversations about whether or not to serve coffee.
  • In 2012, churches should NOT be having conversations about whether or not to allow coffee in the sanctuary.
  • In 2012, church SHOULD be having conversations about what coffee to serve.
  • Seriously, churches should put thought into the coffee they serve. Not only does the quality of the coffee reflect what you think about those drinking it, it also says something about what you think of those growing, harvesting, roasting, selling, and distributing the coffee. Yes, coffee is moral/ethical issue. Think about serving coffee that is fairly traded and organic. Churches should think beyond Folgers. Churches should come face-to-face with reality and realize that Starbucks does not equal “good” coffee.

7. The Pastor Continually Refers to “Those” People in the Sermon

  • Simply put, it’s not just “those” people…it’s all of us. The language used in the pulpit should be more inclusive. That’s what I love about the pastors I have had the opportunity to serve with throughout the years. Every single one of them had the “we’re all in this together” attitude.

This hardly scratches the surface. So, what are some of the reasons you would not visit or return to a church?