I've written posts for ThomRainer.com and my own blog that describe some of the negatives our church consulting teams and "spies" have found in churches. The goal of this post is to show some of the positives we've seen in different churches. The topics vary, but perhaps something will help you in your church.
1. Greeters at every door.
It doesn't happen often, but occasionally every one of our team members is greeted when each of us intentionally enters a different door. Those churches are ready for guests.
2. Strong security in the preschool/children's areas.
Sometimes our team members gain entrance to these areas much too easily, but we've been in churches that physically halted our team from going beyond the boundaries. I'm pleased to report to the church that their security system worked in those cases.
3. Name tags for everyone.
Several folks disagreed with my suggestion about this topic in previous posts, but our team appreciates it when everyone can quickly learn names. Name tags simply make it easier for folks to have conversations with people they don't know.
4. Assurances about visitor's cards.
Again, I've written about why I likely would not complete a visitor's card at your church. On the other hand, some churches have made it very clear up front — by saying, "We won't bombard you with visits, phone calls, and emails, and we won't embarrass you" — that they won't put us on the spot. I'm willing to complete a card for those churches.
5. Knowledge of the community.
We do a demographic study of the church's ministry area, but we don't give that information to the church at first. Instead, we now first ask church leaders what they think the demographics will show about their community. Most leaders don't know their community that well — but occasionally we meet leaders who clearly have already focused externally.
6. General friendliness.
Most churches, frankly, are not that friendly to our "spies." They're friendly, but primarily with people they already know. So, our team recognizes quickly when a church family has been trained to welcome everyone to their family gathering. Our team members are blessed when it does happen.
7. Clear direction in the worship service events.
Most of our "spies" are believers, but even they appreciate when the leader gives them direction in the Word (e.g., "the book of Malachi is the last book in the Old Testament; it's about 2/3 of the way through your Bible. If you find the book of Matthew, just back up a book"), guidance for the offering, and direction for the Lord's Supper.
8. Biblical, applicational preaching.
The best preaching, in our opinion, goes to the Word, expounds the Word, and helps us know how to apply its teaching past Sunday. Our hope is that our spies can quickly answer the question, "What do you need to do as a result of the biblical truth you learned today?" Sometimes they can.
9. Intentional strategies for training teachers.
The strongest churches recognize that God holds teachers accountable to high standards (James 3:1), and they prepare current and future teachers accordingly. These churches raise up their next generation of teachers and leaders.
10. Clear master plan for facilities.
You've seen the churches that had no master plan; their buildings are so different that you can tell a different leader was in charge for each structure. Churches with a clear master plan are usually thinking toward the future — and even beyond themselves.
This article was originally posted here