Josh Hunt recently sent out a newsletter pointing out how the little things often make a huge difference in church growth. Now, the big things are big for a reason, but even if you get the big things right, the little things can kill you.
Here’s his list of little things many churches need to work on —
Advertising — although few converts come in through advertising, it just might be because churches do so little! But if you commit resources to advertising, ask your new members if it influenced them. If it doesn’t work, spend the money more productively somewhere else.
Web page — today, most young people, and many older, will check out your web site before visiting. How does the site look to a visitor who knows nothing else about your church? At the least, it should provide insight into your congregation’s story: what makes you special? And it must give essential visitor information — directions, service times, adult class schedules, and such. And it needs to look up to date! And keep it current. If the information is for 6 months ago, it looks like you’re not paying attention, because you’re not.
Curb appeal — women have a major influence on a family’s decision where to attend. Women will hold you to the same standards they impose on themselves when it comes to housekeeping. Would your wife be proud if your yard at home looks like your church’s yard? Is your church landscaped and maintained as well as your own home? I mean, the same women who watch the Home and Garden network will look at your church like a house they might buy.
Greeters — the best greeter program we have are a few members who’ve volunteered to stand outside (often with an umbrella) to greet members and visitors, dispense welcomes and hugs, and make people feel truly welcomed — 75 feet before you get to the building. But the church also needs greeters inside who serve to welcome, give directions, and introduce visitors to teachers, small group leaders, and walk the visitor to a classroom and make introductions.
Paint — how do your walls look to newcomers? It’s amazing how blind we become to what we see every week. It takes a visitor to mention the drab walls or peeling paint before we even see it. Unfortunately, the visitors aren’t habituated, and so they see it all immediately.
Restrooms — women notice restrooms and will judge you by them. How do they smell? Are they spotlessly clean? Are they pretty? Are they decorated? The men aren’t generally as particular, but if you’re out of toilet paper, soap, or paper towels, or the restrooms are poorly maintained, even the men will think you’re incompetent.
Preschool — mothers expect meticulous sanitation, great attention to security, and an “enriched environment” with posters and other learning material prominently placed throughout the facility.
Little stacks of old literature — 15 or more years ago, my wife was asked to direct a wedding at our church. She assigned me to clean up the foyer. I thought there was nothing to do. It’s always clean, I thought to myself. But when I started to clean up, I found enough trash just lying around here and there to fill two garbage bags! Every horizontal surface was covered with lesson materials and bulletins from years gone by. It had been there so long, we just never noticed!
The same is true in classrooms. How many stacks of handouts and lesson books from prior quarters are there? Never begin a quarter without throwing away last quarter’s mess.
Music — again, habituation is the enemy. You may have heard “Ring It Out!” so many times you actually enjoy it, but your visitors will find Stamps-Baxter corny and odd. Get rid of it! Never again! In fact, if you don’t get your music attractive to visitors, you’re going to fail to grow and lose your children. It’s really just that simple. And if some older members hate the change, tell them to grow up. It’s not about making members comfortable. It’s about saving souls.