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  • Ctodd

What Drives Guests Away from our Church

In many instances, a church has one time to establish a good first impression with a visitor. Their experience will determine if they return, pursue another church, or foregoing visiting any other churches. The last one seems extreme but the truth is that we never know. Now these points do not address spiritual aspects of a church but the physical/visual components that affects people’s mentality towards your church and congregation. Here are 8 thoughts as to what is driving guests away after they visit:

Kid area is unclean, unsafe or old.

The nursery is probably the most important area for young families. If a visiting family has a bad experience here, it is very likely they will not return to your church. Be sure to have a check-in area, trained and qualified staff, and clean facilities.


There area are many components that make the parking experience good or bad. This is important because it is the first thing people experience when visiting your church. It sets the stage of the first impression people have on your church. Therefore, the lot should have clear lines and be well-planned with appropriate signage, and clean.

Facilities have deteriorated

Many churches today have older facilities that have lacked the proper care and attention over time. In fact, I truly believe that many church members grow accustomed to the smell, faded paint, carpet stains, water damaged ceiling tiles, out dated furniture, tall grass and weeds outside…..This means that they are failing to view their facilities from the perspective of a guest. These aspects can portray a lack of care for the church building.

The church is at Maximum capacity

A church at maximum capacity can inadvertently tell a person there is not room for you. Also, we typically see the "80% rule" hold true in most scenarios. When the church is at 80% capacity it will stop growing. Develop a plan to ensure you have a proper growth strategy over time (develop a Master Plan) because a vision and plan can prevent the 80% barrier.

One Strategy is to hire a secret shopper to provide an honest and unbiased look into the church and congregation. 


The church should be one of the friendliest and inviting places to come. But experiences and stats paint a different picture. In fact, one man decided to visit over 100 churches in his area to see their strengths and weaknesses. From his visits, nearly 50% of the churches did not say one word to him for the entire Sunday morning. I doubt anyone would return after that experience.

Untrained and Apathetic Greeters

These people help set the tone for a visitor’s experience. If these people are unintentional and not attentive guests can feel unwelcome. The Greeters should be trained and focused on welcoming people in the church. A smile, warm greeting, hand shake, friendly voice is crucial to creating a positive environment.

Unmanned or No Welcome Desk

If a visitor enters without being greeted, it is good to have a central point of contact where they can get information about the church. It is crucial to have someone there at all times, be informed and trained, with a warm personality. NOTE: an informed person is important here. If a visitor asks generic questions these people should have answers.

Disorganized Service

The flow, length, arrangement, and organization of a church service is important. Now, I do not think they need be scripted but they should be well planned and flow. I attended a church for a while that had extremely choppy services. For instance, transitions always took too long and could be awkward, there would be questions as to who was praying at certain times, the announcements would be 5 minutes……Now this next point may be controversial but the length of the service should be monitored to some degree. People only have a certain attention span and it will be easy to lose them in a long service. Ultimately, develop a service with a good flow that will work for your congregation, it may take some trial and error, but it makes a huge difference.


I truly believe that churches should occasionally think outside the box and try to understand a visitor’s experience when coming to their church. That is why we offer a secret church shopper service. We will attend a service or two and develop a report based on our findings. The key to this service, no matter who does it, is an unbiased and honest look into your church. To find out what is specifically entailed in our visit and report contact us, we would love to talk

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