Have you got kerb appeal?
As people begin to return through our church doors, especially those who may come over the next few months for specific celebrations and festivals such as weddings, Harvest and Advent, it’s a good time to look again with fresh eyes and constructive comments at the welcome your church is offering.
A place we feel welcome is a place that can lead to belonging – something I hope we all want people to feel in our churches. There are many things to consider when thinking about how we as individuals feel welcome and how an environment appears welcoming.
Think about what makes you feel welcome when you visit a new place. Perhaps you could do this with a small group of people from your church and consider some of the common ideas and make sure they are present in your church. Familiarity often brings comfort but can lead to us overlooking what needs changing, repairing or refreshing. Take your time to really look carefully and consider what people might see and feel as they come to your church, perhaps for the first time. Consider:
- Kerb appeal: Walk the approach to the church, is there clear indication of what is happening and when in the life of the church, where the entrance is and other amenities such as car parking? Is the approach well cared for, giving maximum accessibility?
- Up to date: Have a look at your notice boards and leaflet stands. Is all the information relevant and up to date? Does it contain the details of those who visitors may need to contact? If posters are sun-faded, print off new copies to refresh the display.
- Tidy up: Are there items that are no longer needed that you can clear out? Are there other items not regularly used that could be stored away? Are items on display well organised or could this be improved in some way? If needed, you could regularly rotate display items. If you have children’s resources, make sure they are clean, complete and have a system to keep things tidy. You can label boxes or shelves if that is helpful.
- Clean: Are the things people touch and places they sit clean and available? Have a look around to see if there are soft furnishings such as cushions that need washing or refilling and that floor spaces where children and babies might go are clean and comfortable.
- Signage: Visitors might not know what is in the church environment or understand church etiquette. Do you have welcome/notice sheet visitors can take away with them, short descriptors for key items in the church, and simple signage indicating where people can go, what can be used, taken home, purchased etc. We have some signs available to order for free at www.dioceseofnorwich.org/resource/building-understanding if you would like.
- Greeting: Do you have individuals on the door during opening hours or at the start of services who can give a warm welcome? Helping visitors identify a seat, indicating where amenities are in the building and being available to answer questions or lend assistance during a service can be a big help to someone unfamiliar with the setting.
For a simple questionnaire of things to consider visit: www.nationalchurchestrust.org/how-welcoming-yourchurch-questionnaire or for more comprehensive resources, your church could use the Everybody Welcome course www.chpublishing.co.uk/features/everybody-welcome and supporting checklist resource www.chpublishing.co.uk/media/33633/checklists.pdf (particularly Session 2).
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