I am always interested in how guests, particularly first timers, experience the church. So when I learned that a dear friend from a former congregation I served joined us for worship last month, I was eager to hear her reflections (we were out of town that Sunday). Here are some of her thoughts:
I was warmly greeted by ushers as I arrived in the rain exactly at 11AM. I heard the bells or chimes. I did not know how to enter the building. I followed a couple up the steps to the front entrance. I gladly took a seat in the rear center. Took me a few minutes to get my bearings in a new place. I understood the order of worship from the guide. It was Children's Sunday though they had (in my opinion) limited participation in the service. I believe they paraded off to children's church. They blessed us with a song near the end. People around me were friendly and introduced themselves. There was some trouble finding my way out. Since it was still raining, I wanted to go out near the rear. Someone showed me the way but discovered that the elevator was not working. So we walked back up near the front to exit on the side. One gentleman so proudly showed me the recently completed renovations of the parlor/reception area with the flat screen monitor.
I read worship guides cover to cover looking for education and mission ministries. There is vibrant activity in both of these areas. I was curious about adult SS classes but guide did give me a clue. I loved the study offerings for Disciple and Jesus in the Gospels. There was not contact info for the [book club] so I plan to call the church to see if there will be another time for discussing this book. Maybe it is on the website. I would have appreciated email contacts in worship guide for all activities. Thanks for asking me to comment on experience. I look forward to visiting again.
We recently heard feedback from Oak Lawners that hospitality was one of our strengths—I agree! But there are always areas to improve. How could we have improved her experience? Better signage on exterior of the building? Greeters outside near the elevator? More information in the bulletin? Share your thoughts with others in the church. Form a team and seek solutions. We know the holidays are a popular time for guests to check out the church. Help us to improve and offer the best welcome possible. Hearing feedback from those new to OLUMC helps us to remember our mission—to reach more persons for Jesus Christ—and reminds us that each of us once felt that confusion and excitement as we entered the building the first time. May we have open hearts, minds, eyes, and hands to our neighbors in the pews today and every Sunday!