Six Reasons Your Church Might Not Be As Friendly As You Think It Is

09 Nov

I read this post at yesterday and thought it important enough to reblog it.

Six Reasons Your Church Might Not Be As Friendly As You Think It Is

“We are the friendliest church in town.”

I have heard that statement thousands of times. I promise. In over 500 church consultations and thousands of church member interviews, I heard it. Most church members really do think their church is very friendly.

But, more times than not, they are wrong. Guests who visit the churches usually have a much different perspective. Here are six things to consider if you really think your church is friendly.

  1. Almost all church leaders consider their church friendly. But we have strong evidence to the contrary. We have learned that self-perception (or perception of one’s church) often does not meet reality.
  2. Volumes of survey data from church guests indicate that very few churches are really friendly. Our surveys over a ten-year period indicate that over eight in ten guests did not consider the church they visited to be friendly.
  3. Many church members perceive their church to be friendly because they have established relationships in the church. But church guests typically do not have those relationships in the church. They, thus, see the church differently.
  4. Many church members see their church as friendly because they have a brief stand and greet time in the worship service. This issue has drawn a lot of attention at this blog. I think we can all agree, however, that there is much more to genuine friendliness than a two-minute greeting time.
  5. We found that most guests who think a church is unfriendly never let anyone in the church know. They simply leave and never return.
  6. We found no significant evidence that church members are connecting with unchurched persons and bringing them to a worship service. It would seem that genuine friendliness would result in an influx of non-believers. That just has not happened.

Do you think your church is genuinely friendly? Upon what facts do you base your perception? What can your church do to become friendlier to guests?

Let me hear from you.

Thom S. Rainer This is the link to his blog.



Posted by on November 9, 2014 in Christianity, Faith, Religion


Tags: , , , , , ,

33 responses to “Six Reasons Your Church Might Not Be As Friendly As You Think It Is

  1. realchange4u

    November 9, 2014 at 8:38 am

    Makes you think. Do we teach it to and engage folks we don’t recognize or know. Good post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sue C.

    November 9, 2014 at 10:04 am

    The Lord has sent me to many different denominations, “so you can experience them” and I was and still am the “Outsider.” I found one church that actually accepted me and made me feel like part of the family, and it isn’t the one I’m in now. Been here going on 5 years and am still the “outsider.” It’s sad. Your article nailed it. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Levi Thetford

      November 9, 2014 at 10:33 am

      I fully understand what you mean. I even know pastors who are outsders. Even though i meet regularly with my church’s leadership i am an outsider in my church. I understand why many dont attend. Have a great day!!!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Lionel Sneed

    November 9, 2014 at 10:18 am

    Great post and eye opening.


    • Levi Thetford

      November 9, 2014 at 11:47 am

      And im afraid its too true. I hear it all of the time. Hope you too have a great Lord’s day, Lionel!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The Pensive Poet (Kristina)

    November 9, 2014 at 10:28 am

    This is so true. I have visited lots of other churches, and two particular times stand out in my mind, 1 attending Sunday morning at my cousin’s church, and getting extremely unfriendly looks because I am a different ethnicity than 99.9% of the members, and 2, attending a Mennonite church service with family friends, and the pastor thundering down “There is evil in this house!” because me and my sister wore pants (we didn’t know we were supposed to wear dresses or skirts), and having the congregation gather afterwards for lunch at one of the members houses, where we were made to feel like aliens from another planet. Most people who have a connection with their church feel it’s really friendly, but it’s so important to truly make others feel welcome and at ease, by doing more than smiling in their face and shoving a bulletin at them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Levi Thetford

      November 9, 2014 at 11:47 am

      Kristina, the problem is huge and rately dpoken of. I have been in the same situation many times. Not good!!!


  5. linda parvin hutchinson

    November 9, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    Very true!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The Gospel of Barney

    November 9, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    Amen and Amen! We are friendly to each other, what of the strangers?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. IrmMa

    November 9, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    Oh my gosh! That has always been my experience. I too had the problem with my girls and I being two different hues. They are mixed Hispanic/Anglo and of course they look more Anglo than Hispanic. On top of that I was a single parent and back 20 years ago single parenting was a bit more stigmatized than it is now, so I found it difficult to fit into groups. Everything was geared for couples. The pastors never practiced what they preached. Since then, I’ve gone in and out of churches, visiting, looking for a place to fit in and I am always shocked when not one member will extend even a greeting hand…It’s amazing how people make it point to avoid eye contact.

    I also have a couple of friends that pastor churches and they too claim they have a great church, with great people, friendly and so forth, they spew great community spirit and love from the pulpit, but when I take my family…not even a hello do we get. I may know a couple of people and will give them a hello, how are you, but my daughters are like…”Mom why do you bring us here, people are so rude!” If it wasn’t for the people I know…I probably would feel the same way. And to make it worse, the people I know do not feel it necessary to introduce other members. It might be just me, but there’s something wrong with that picture. So, I leave. I go back on occasion to visit my friend’s churches and sad to report…the people remain unfriendly and not surprising…no new faces.

    I much prefer home churches. I’ve had good experiences attending home churches. They are a much smaller community, people get to know each other and it kinda forces people to be hospitable, something greatly lacking in the church. It would be great if they remained home churches, but they grow, get a building, then become another church with unfriendly members.

    As the things of God go, we put our faith in the Holy One that knows exactly where He wants us.

    Be blessed.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. IrmMa

    November 9, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    Reblogged this on Living in the Last Hour and commented:
    Definitely worth re-blogging.


  9. Susan Irene Fox

    November 9, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    My experience, too, Levi, and I’ve been going to my church for five years. I’m coming to the conclusion that “church” is not a building – it’s those of us who walk with the Lord and shine HIs light and love in our daily lives.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Levi Thetford

      November 9, 2014 at 4:11 pm

      You’re right on the true church. As much as I love it there are tons of problems. Thanks dear girl!!!


  10. arm5

    November 9, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    I read this yesterday someone posted it to my facebook pg. it is an eye opener and I have seen it at my own church. Besides the meet and greet doesn’t work either.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Julie Harris

    November 9, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    Lots of great “food for thought” here…meet and greet time is not enough to make people feel connected.


  12. 50djohnson

    November 9, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    Our church is very unusual and sincerely more than friendly… Christlike! We visited one Sunday… On Wednesday of the following week my Mom died. That class visited, sent cards, and brought enough food to feed all the relatives that we staying at our house. I am now a member of that class. We make it a point not to sit with our friends but to sit next to visitors and get to know them..ask them to eat lunch after church…off to sit with them in church. There are no cliques… Just people who want to be like Christ wanting to reach out to a hurting world and let them know there is love to be found.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Levi Thetford

      November 9, 2014 at 6:18 pm

      This is great to hear. I didn’t post this to bash the church but the problem is widespread. Your church is an example. Thank the Lord.

      Liked by 1 person

      • 50djohnson

        November 9, 2014 at 6:25 pm

        It truly is a joy to go every week as this kind of love is exemplified through our staff all the way to the janitors! There is excitement and electricity in the air because the Spirit of the Lord is there. When churches have selfish self centered people trying to bully the pastor and the congregations, and cliques who run the church like a society club… well, to me, that is when Christ has removed his candle and it is walking in darkness. Walk out if this is what you find… Keep looking for Christ filled churches they are springing up everywhere in these days of confusion.


        • Levi Thetford

          November 9, 2014 at 7:09 pm

          You are truly blessed. There aren’t many like yours in every area. Rejoice my friend!!!

          Liked by 1 person

          • 50djohnson

            November 10, 2014 at 1:32 am

            I do every day… I think the key is we are a praying congregation!


  13. K. Q. Duane

    November 9, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    Why do they have to be “friendly?” In the scheme of things, is that really important?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Levi Thetford

      November 9, 2014 at 7:11 pm

      To many people it is very important, and biblically they should be friendly.


      • K. Q. Duane

        November 9, 2014 at 7:38 pm

        Probably the women. Considering all of the attacks on our Christian faith, here in America alone, friendliness accomplishes nothing. Seems somewhat naive.


  14. Megan

    November 9, 2014 at 11:27 pm

    Very interesting insight to consider. I think all of us want to think that our church is friendly and inviting.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Ruth

    November 10, 2014 at 9:53 am

    Maybe I’m naive, but frankly I think the ‘friendliness’ of churches isn’t what matters. It’s whether they preach the gospel message or something else. If the people are cold to me, then I make it a point to be warm to them. Jesus changed the world. Surely I, imitating him, can change one church.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. isaiah41v10

    November 10, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    We are blessed to attend a congregation that is welcoming to new people. Someone will always come and talk to them after the service, and our little church feels very much like family.
    I would say that this is extremely important, because if we are not welcoming to the stranger we do not obey the Word of God (Heb 13:1-2; James 2). But it has to be genuine love from God, rather than something we pretend.
    Biblical truth is essential, but if I visited a church that preached the Word but was unwelcoming, I would be concerned that it was head knowledge and that genuine transformation was not happening in that congregation.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Levi Thetford

      November 10, 2014 at 12:48 pm

      I agree and dont go to a church only based on friendliness but it does say something about the health of that church.


  17. 50djohnson

    November 10, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    K G, Friendliness may not be the most important thing to you. People have different emotional needs. I think most people share the need to love and be loved. When people are friendly, then those visiting feel rejected and very lonely. How very sad it is to feel you do not have a church “home” where they love you unconditionally.


  18. Loca Gringa

    November 12, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    Unfortunately though tolerance is well taught in most churches, acceptance is not. This is evident from all aspects of society, from the personal homes, to neighbourhoods, to cities, to states/provinces … and the world. We are none immune. Therefore what is in the world, sadly, is also in the churches.

    The very best church … has pillars that rise of themselves out of the ground, that for half the year is cloaked in an emerald carpet and the other half pure whiteness, and this church has fed all of the churches and her congregations since time began … and, we are all members … if only we could get along.

    Now, practice acceptance, then, friendliness will follow!


  19. Naomi

    November 23, 2014 at 4:49 am

    Thought provoking article, I’m saddened and surprised that many wonderful WordPress Christians feel on the outer in church. Maybe that’s why we blog? My frustration is that church is very far away and by the time the service is over there’s no real time to fellowship or get to know people, I have to be heading home. But the teachings are faithful and Word-based, so I stay.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Levi Thetford

      November 23, 2014 at 10:02 am

      Hello Naomi. Your situation is exactly as mine because of where we live in the country. It isn’t possible to be at every function which then they read as not being faithful attenders. We attend on Sundays. I don’t know if the Australian church has as many functions throughout the week as we do over here. Hope you are doing well.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: