Does your church erect invisible barriers toward people getting connected with your church? Is it easier to find the Lost Ark rather than your church on a Sunday morning?
Certainly there may be many legitimate reasons why someone may not come to your church (personal preferences, driving distances etc..). Those are issues that you can't control. But there are plenty of other issues that you can. So, if you are determined, for people to not come to your church or get connected then,
Here are 10 ways to Stop Me (or anyone else )from Discovering Your Church
1. Don’t have a website: This is the information age, even 107 year old women have blogs, but not your church. No website, no blogs, nothing, nada, zero. In order to feel more comfortable before I visit, I want to see something about the the church. I want to be able to kick the tires before I show up on Sunday. And even if you must have a website, make sure it is poorly designed, lacking in information, hard to navigate, lots of rainbow and dove graphics, and definitely out of date.
2. Be completely inactive in the community: If you’re not doing anything in the community then no one will talk about your church. That makes it a lot harder for me to accidentally find out anything useful. So don’t serve the community or partner with other churches or non-profits. In fact it’s really just best if you stay completely inward-focused and don’t do anything missional in your town or city.
3. Don’t answer your phone: Regardless of what time I call (weekday, weekend, morning, afternoon, evening) don’t answer the phone and don’t have an answering machine or voice mail for me to leave a message or prayer request. If you do have voice mail, don’t include your website address, service times or directions to your church on your message, and don’t ever answer the phone on Sunday mornings. That way when I’m lost en route to service, I’ll have no choice but to drive around aimlessly until I give up and go home.
4. Allow misinformation: When contact information changes about your church, make sure you don't update websites, online directories and phone books. It is important to make sure you keep me on my toes and misdirected every chance possible.
5. Lack clear signage: Even if I’m determined to visit your church, you have several on site options to discourage me. The first is to play hide and seek. Is your church in a nondescript building or on a street with several other churches? Have absolutely no signage; none, whatsoever. Except maybe on the mailbox, where you abbreviate things beyond comprehension.
6. Have insufficient parking/seating: Other discouraging on-site options are lack of adequate parking and seating. Does your church seat 200? Only have 30 parking spaces and make sure that all the church volunteers are using them. Been running at capacity for weeks or months? Don’t start another service, so that there will be standing room only. Have visitors’ parking? Put it in the corner of the lot away from the entrance. Have adequate parking? Don’t stripe the lot or have parking attendants; chaos is best. Have adequate seating? Make it as uncomfortable as possible.
7. Ignore Visitors: Despite your best efforts to discourage me, you think that you have won -but I have found and attended your church. In fact, I even filled out a visitor’s card requesting more information. Don’t acknowledge my visit in any way. Don’t call me, don’t send me a thank you card, don’t answer any of my questions or give me any information about how to become involved or learn more about Jesus. Also don’t have any literature available for me to take home and don’t train your volunteers to be courteous or helpful in anyway.
8. Respond half-heartedly to inquiries: If responding to information requests at all, do so extremely slowly and only partially. Wait 1 week or more to return emails or phone calls and if I ask several questions, don’t answer them all. Instead just tell me I should come to a service to find out more. That saves you a couple minutes of response time and makes you look very busy and important. Whatever you do, do not start a dialogue with me.
9. Be evasive about your beliefs: When I ask a direct question about the church’s beliefs, ignore the question or act like you don’t understand and then start telling me about your denomination or church programs. For “What We Believe”, only include the Nicene Creed on your website or literature. If I’m adamant about wanting positional clarity, instead tell me about the love of Jesus and how Christianity isn’t about division. For those times you do answer my questions, act offended that I would even ask, then try and make me feel stupid or sinful for questioning you.
10. Continue to be difficult: You might just get a few months of attendance out of me before I just give up out of frustration. Don't help me get into a small group. Don't help me find ways to volunteer and use my gifts. If you keep making the process of involvement and connectedness difficult and unclear, you will eventually wear me down and I will go elsewhere.
(adapted from a post at Church Redone)