It’s Sunday morning. Your parking lot is covered—no one is getting inside without being safely directed into a parking spot. Your greeters all remind you of a hug from your grandmother—warm and a little bit squishy. And your ushers are kind of like your parking team, but they couldn’t handle the extreme weather changes, so instead they guide people to a seat.
What happens in those few minutes after your visitors take their seat in the auditorium/sanctuary/worship center and before service begins? I speak of visitors because, let’s be honest, they’re the ones who come early. Your regulars meander in because they know what to expect. It’s easy to forget about those few minutes, yet they matter when lost people find themselves in a seat at your house.
Vibe. You know what I’m talking about. It’s the never seen, but always felt energy. It’s the groove you want everyone to feel. After all, you’re about to ask them to engage for next hour or more and you need a solid starting point. Vibe communicates a lot about your church. Vibe is found in the environment.
Your church’s approach to this time needs to fit your values. Whatever your worship environment, here are some things to think about that will help you become more intentional about the vibe that is being experienced in this time:
What do you want people hear? Maybe it’s music fitting your worship style, silence for a reverent room or the buzz from people sharing their life stories with each other.
What potential distractions can be heard: A guitar tuning on stage, your pastor checking his microphone, kids running around the sanctuary?
Where are people looking: Up at giant screens with well-presented announcements, down at their carefully laid out bulletin or handouts, out at their physical surroundings?
What could negatively impact some one’s visual experience: A stage cluttered with cables and random personal items, lack of personal space in the seats, a banner that is frayed or about to fall off?
Emotive and, at times, frustratingly subjective. So throw some adjectives out there! Joyful. Welcoming. Peaceful. Rockin’. What are you doing to express these things?
What could be felt in your room that takes away from this: Fear of the unknown, anxiety over what’s expected, deep-seated guilt?
Improve the Vibe
Listen, see and feel the vibe that visitors experience in those forgotten few minutes before your church service starts. Once you’re paying attention to that experience, you can start to improve it.
For me, one of the most impactful parts of Creative Missions 2012 was how the interaction with gospel-minded local church leaders opened up my eyes to the church and the glimpse I saw of how huge and beautiful God’s kingdom is. The relationships and conversations I built with creative missionaries from all across the country further opened up my perspective. Hopefully, you’ve been able find a helpful thought here that will serve you well as you continue to reach the lost in your area for Jesus.
We’re thrilled to partner with Creative Missions (our nonprofit parent, the Center for Church Communication, handles the Creative Missions finances). Learn more about Creative Missions and this year’s trip to Alaska and consider a financial donation to help church communicators help other churches communicate better.
- For more helpful tips like this, check out Dangerous: A Go-to Guide for Church Communication. It’s a booklet of articles by Creative Missions alumni offering a crash course in church marketing basics.
- Learn more about how to welcome church visitors with this massive collection of resources and blog posts.
- Walking into a church for the first time can be scary. Check out Unwelcome: 50 Ways Churches Drive Away First-Time Visitors by Jonathan Malm for practical ideas and perspective on first-time guests.