Here are 5 MORE things that may keep visitors at your church from coming back:

5. Negative Buzz- I have actually heard church members complaining, bad-mouthing their pastor, the sermon, other churches/Christians, the new curriculum or the decor…while AT CHURCH. I think we get very comfortable while at our home church- it becomes a family to us, and we relax, let our hair down and say what we really feel. However, if our ‘family’ is ever going to expand to include others, we do need to think before we speak at church, about who is hearing what we are saying and about what effect our words could have.  When guests hear Sunday morning griping, it can make them want to run for the nearest exit. No one wants to wade into a church’s dirty laundry or join a divided house. Pastors and leaders have a huge responsibility to call out bad attitudes, complaining and gossip- in love. Gossip is not a “smaller” sin. It can actually destroy churches if allowed to fester.

4. General Apathy- A guest probably wants to know what your church is all about. What is the plan? Where is your church going? Are you growing? Hoping to grow? If your church gives the impression that you are “coasting” “existing” or “complete”, that may not be a draw to guests who want to be excited about a vision and a mission. If you aren’t stoked about where your church is going, why should anyone else be? This apathy expresses itself all too often in the condition of the building. Peeling paint, tattered carpet, broken chairs- this is a church that does not appear to be cared for anymore. No one seems too excited to keep it up. Facility isn’t everything; but vision is crucial. Without a vision the people perish- and so will your church.

3. All about money- Many visitors report being turned off to certain churches that spend a lot of time emphasizing giving. I’ve been at churches that have 2-3 separate offerings each Sunday and/or spend an inordinate amount of time guilting/pleading for money. This ESPECIALLY looks bad if you have a lavish facility, lots of staff and high tech equipment. This leads to the impression that churches are “only after your money.” Of course, balance is important, because Christians DO need to know the importance of tithing and of being a responsible steward of God’s money. At our church, we say, “If you are a visitor, we are not asking you to give.” We keep it short and sweet, always emphasizing tithing and giving as a positive form of worship. We also do longer messages on giving once or twice a year.

2. Stuck in one decade. Too many churches get stuck in one decade- usually a decade that the church was booming/growing or was founded. This church then continues with those exact same songs, decor, language, curriculum until the people it originally reached in that one decade age out. You can usually tell immediately when you visit a new church, what decade they decided to fix on: 1980’s? 1990’s? 1960’s? 2000’s? Bottom line, no decade is holier than any other. And your church must be effective in THIS decade in order to grow and thrive. What elements of our services are really Scriptural and relateable, and which elements are just relics of a decade gone by? If a new person cannot understand the lingo, is “weirded out” by the older music, and misses an impact in their own lives, they probably will not be back.

1. Nothing for kids/youth. This goes hand in hand with having no vision. Even if you currently do not have many kids or young people in your church, if you have no PLAN to reach young people, then you are planning to die out as a church within a generation. No young family is going to want to sign on if there is no plan. Before I was a parent myself, I did not understand this at all. I thought, “If it is your church, it shouldn’t matter if there are great programs for your kids.” Now I get it. The time you have to pour into these kids is SOOOOO small. And these years are SOOOO crucial. Parents will usually go to the church that will minister to their kids, even if their own needs are not met. Minister to the kids and you’ll have families.

How about YOU? What do you think is the biggest barrier to new people coming back? Do any of these above reasons ring true for you?

Love Trisha