Easter is here and we know that our churches will be filled with visitors and new comers and lots and lots of unchurched people. This can be a golden opportunity to make a connection with them…or not. Whoever you are, whatever your role at your parish, whatever kind of parish you have, there are at least 3 things you can do to make your church more welcoming to visitors this Easter.
#1. Park Off Campus
The whole church experience for most people at most church begins in the parking lot. If it is chaotic and confused, or worse, if there are no parking spaces, visitors will feel like they made a mistake in coming. They might very well give up at that point and go home. If, on the other hand, regulars park off campus, creating greater availability, you’ve already started to shape an environment the unchurched will appreciate. I always say the “homily” begins in the parking lot.
#2. Give Up Your Seat
Here at Nativity it was always the case that our regulars would be sure and come super early on Christmas and Easter and fill up all the best seats first. Visitors were left to stand where they could or congregate in the Lobby. It makes sense, insiders know how to work the system for their own advantage. But if a visitor is forced to stand, and, in the process, can’t really see or hear anything, the experience is largely worthless to them. How about if you flip this arrangement? If you’re a regular, give up your seat this Easter, leave it open for an unchurched visitor who will probably arrive later than you. When they do arrive, and there’s a seat for them, they’ll feel like you were expecting them. And that’s a nice feeling.
Often the number one reason unchurched people say they don’t like church is because of the unfriendly appearance of the church people. That can be easily resolved with a smile. How about if we all smile this Easter…you know, like it’s a celebration.
Your church can definitely make a connection with the unchurched this Easter. But you have to put a little effort into it.