"We are the friendliest church in town."
I have heard that statement thousands of times. I promise. In over 500 church consultations and thousands of church member interviews, I heard it. Most church members really do think their church is very friendly.
But, more times than not, they are wrong. Guests who visit the churches usually have a much different perspective. Here are six things to consider if you really think your church is friendly.
1. Almost all church leaders consider their church friendly. But we have strong evidence to the contrary. We have learned that self-perception (or perception of one's church) often does not meet reality.
2. Volumes of survey data from church guests indicate that very few churches are really friendly. Our surveys over a ten-year period indicate that over eight in ten guests did not consider the church they visited to be friendly.
3. Many church members perceive their church to be friendly because they have established relationships in the church. But church guests typically do not have those relationships in the church. They, thus, see the church differently.
4. Many church members see their church as friendly because they have a brief stand and greet time in the worship service. This issue has drawn a lot of attention at this blog. I think we can all agree, however, that there is much more to genuine friendliness than a two-minute greeting time.
5. We found that most guests who think a church is unfriendly never let anyone in the church know. They simply leave and never return.
6. We found no significant evidence that church members are connecting with unchurched persons and bringing them to a worship service. It would seem that genuine friendliness would result in an influx of non-believers. That just has not happened.