"Visitors will decide in the first 3 to 5 minutes of visiting your church whether they will return."
1. Where did we pick up that bit of marketing savvy? Is it true? I've heard it several places and each time it's left me feeling doubtful. It definitely stresses the need to be warm and welcoming to new folks, and to have the place cleaned up with easy access to things (like parking, the nursery and restrooms). But has the church succumbed so completely to consumer marketing that we are entirely dependent on first impressions?
2. Many times my "first impression" of a person and place has been completely wrong. What I thought I would not like I ended up enjoying or realizing I needed. What happens if the congregation is well trained and excels at first impressions, but isn't authentic and transparent in sharing the love of God in its relationships?
3. How does the church help people transition from being "consumers shopping for a church" to being "seekers of Christ?" Is it by being warm and friendly in the first 3 to 5 minutes and feeling like the job is done?
4. What if we removed the 'open doors' tagline and required that new people be sponsored? Aside from the charge of exclusiveness, what would happen to church growth? I am a Rotarian. We don't have people just walk into our meetings; they are invited by a Rotarian. We take them to the Rotary meeting, introduce them to others, and bring them back several times before asking them to become part of our club. Rotarians balance first impressions with personal relationships.
5. Something tells me that if we truly care about other people connecting with love of Christ that is expressed in the body of Christ, the first 3 to 5 minutes will take care of themselves.