Creating a Comfortable Environment

Sometimes, we don’t talk about things that are very comfortable. Jesus said we were to take up our cross (be willing to die). Disciple left behind their nets (quit their jobs). The truth often hurts because the Word of God is sharp and it cuts.

I don’t know who originally said this, but we want to create a safe place for people to hear a dangerous message. So while we may communicate some uncomfortable truths, we want to create a comfortable environment for guests. We want people to come in and feel like they belong there – like they are not an outsider. We design our Sunday morning experience with guests in mind, because we don’t want people to stay guests. Here’s some things we do to help create this environment:

1. We play secular tunes in the lobby and as the preservice. People connect with music. Hearing a song they recognize will calm people. It let’s people know that you don’t have to know a secret setlist of songs to attend church here. I personally make a preservice play list, mostly out of songs that are on the iTunes top 100 list. Background music is really important, and it’s one of the silly little things that I don’t delegate.

2. We serve coffee. Why do people like to keep drinks in their hands at a party? Because it’s comfort zone thing. It gives people something to put in their hands. It’s a lot more natural and relaxed to talk to someone when you have a cup of coffee in your hands. We go ahead and spend the extra money to have good coffee. We actually get comments from guests about this all the time.

3. We explain stuff. Every week in the service, I speak to guests. I thank them for coming. If we’re talking about something that is more for the church family, I give that disclaimer. From time to time, we explain why we stand up and sing (a church and a baseball game are the only times when this really happens in our culture). I explain what the offering is about. We don’t assume that people know what’s going on. Our church people hear this stuff every week, but that’s okay…it’s not for them.

4. We ask people for their information. I ask people to fill out a connection card and provide boxes to check if they want information. I ask them to fill out as much info as they feel comfortable sharing, let them know that we are not going to pester them, and tell them that we won’t give out their number or e-mail address to other people. They can drop their card in the offering buckets (easy, plus it allows them to participate at that point of the service).

5. We prepare for and expect guests. I look at things from a guests point of view. I’m a perfectionist about that kind of stuff. We also prepare gift bags for guests and let them know they can stop by and pick them up. They have stuff about the church, but also some candy or some other kind of freebie. We give out a bunch of these each week. Not only is it helpful, but it lets guests know that we prepared for them. During my prayer time each week, I pray for the guests who will be at OLC each week. I think if you don’t plan or prepare or pray for guests, then you will never have any!

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