Thursday, October 15, 2009

Read and Learn -- Web Sites and Visitors -- Pt. 2

Last week I wrote about visiting a Presbyterian church in another city with nothing to go on but the website. In the comments several of you suggested that I should email the senior pastor with my observations. That had already occurred to me, I just hadn't done it yet -- hey, I was on vacation! Anyway, I sent him what I thought was a rather nice email giving him the link to the blog entry. That was Thursday of last week. No response, not a word, nada. I am assuming that he doesn't check the email address listed for him on his own church's website. Not good, folks.

When I got home from my trip last Saturday there was a letter waiting for me from the church I visited. It was mailed on Monday. The letter was very nice and clearly tailored for a visitor from out of town. It invited me to make them my home away from home. It was very well done, and it would have been very effective except for two things: 1. No one so much as made eye contact and smiled with me during coffee fellowship following the service; and 2. The senior pastor either doesn't check his email or doesn't respond to it.

What that very nice letter told me is that they do the automatable well. Produce the form letter, make somebody responsible for it; and it happens. The personal and spontaneous -- not so well.

Again, I am not trying to rag on this church. Mine is no better, and I doubt that most of our members' churches are either. I have forwarded my observations to my senior pastor, because I like learning from other people. So, here is the final lesson -- established, automated procedures are great. They can cement a good impression, but they can't make one. Any attempt to make your church more accessible has to include old fashioned smiles and interest on a personal level.



Stushie said...

That's why I write handwritten letters to visitors on Tuesdays...:)

Anonymous said...

Every church is a "Friendly" church if you are an insider...and that's the problem...the church I serve is actually very good at welcoming the stranger, but once an outsider joins we struggle at welcoming them into the church "Family."

JusticeSeeker said...

They put me on their mailing list. I clearly indicated on the signup pad that I was an active member of another church -- I even named the church. Yesterday, I got their weekly bulletin at my home address half a County away. That is absurd and the reason so many visitors are reluctant to sign in.

Anonymous said...

I'm the pastor of this church and I responded to your email just a few hours after receiving it on Thursday, October 8 thanking you for your thoughtful comments. The email I sent you is sitting in my sent box. I copied the blog and passed it out at our staff and session meetings and we discussed it at both meetings. Other visitors have told us they were warmly welcomed and have appreciated getting the church newsletter for a few weeks. Hope you'll visit again when you're in our city.