Churches are great at making people welcome. So great, that if you’re not careful, you’ll just become another boring friendly place where people find Gospel centered community. So here are some tips to go above and beyond to make sure your church stops growing and starts turning away all those pesky young couples and families. If you don’t act now, those people could end up staying for decades.
Don’t Train Leaders To Love Guests. From a lack of trained greeters at key entrances, to poorly informed volunteers at the info desk, guests to your church may already have second thoughts about returning to your church.
Freak Out Over Crying Babies. That new family with the crying baby? They already felt ostracized when everyone in leadership stared them down during the sermon… while your ushers closed in “to assist the family” in a reenactment of the Seal Team Six Bin-Laden assassination raid. Make sure you have someone make an awkward comment from the stage.
Don’t Lead Your Team To Intentionally Seek Out Guests. That young family who already realized there are not many others their age? Probably not coming back after the “stand up and shake some strangers hand” thing came and went and they stood there alone like stooges while your staff and leaders walked all around the room to greet their friends. Young families? Who needs them?
Insult Your Community. If you aren’t careful, your neighbors will end up liking you and possibly end up at your church. So make sure you focus on your differences. Dominate any conversation you end up in, and if possible, avoid all contact with your neighbors! Never make eye contact outside and only wave when you’re driving to church where all your real work happens. And if possible, overtly and clearly insult other people groups. Make it very difficult for someone who isn’t a part of your church to walk in there.
Confuse People. You have really confusing and even nonexistent church signage and your children’s and preschool ministry leaders are always late. But don’t leave it all to chance. To really seal the deal and turn folks away, you need to utilize the internet. Here is a short guide that will guarantee your success.
Don’t Update Your Website. Leave all the old pictures and info as is. Let all those churches that are focused on connecting with guests waste their time giving accurate information. You can even overlook typos and mistakes.
Ignore People. When someone comments on your church Facebook page or asks a question, just let it sit there. Don’t actually engage in a conversation with that person. Do the same thing on Twitter, and with email. In fact, if your email link on your website doesn’t work, you’re going to be successful at turning lots of people away.
Ignore People More. Respond to every question and inquiry with a form letter. Especially one typed by an intern. In fact, turning people away is more effective if you print, stamp, and mail a physical form letter than a phone call or email because it shows off that you’re behind the times. Make this a habit, and soon nobody will make a second visit. You can do this.
Ignore People Completely. Don’t call people back, don’t answer appointment requests, and don’t reply to email. Just don’t. If you do, they’ll believe they’re worth your attention when in reality they never will be.
Call People Out in Public. Did someone at your church make a mistake? Do you need to blame someone else for your own mistake? Use your church social media accounts to make sure you go public with this. Weave these little nuggets into your sermons, staff meetings, and hallway conversations with random people you come in contact with. A lack of decorum on your part will probably help people who struggle with leaving your church make the decision to get away.
Repeat Confidential Information. In fact, add to the story to make it suit your purposes. Get a reputation for starting conversations with “This is confidential, but…” and others will start doing the same thing. You can create an entire culture of duplicity in a relatively short time. Think about it. Your entire team will consist of people who have made the decision to follow someone they know deep down can’t be trusted. Now you’re really killing the heart of your church! In every conflict they’ll know deep down you’re just ruining the place… You may actually lose more than just recent guests now. Well done.
I know it seems impossible to turn this many people away yourself, but relax. Creating recurring bad habits takes a lot of time and poor decision making. Apply yourself to this and be consistent. It only takes a spark to get a fire going…