The following was first published in InterConnections Tipsheet. We highly recommend spending some time perusing the many topics of interest in this on-line resource. It is a gold mine!
As late summer approaches so does the surge of church shoppers that many congregations experience. Here are tips to make sure your facilities and programs are prepared for them.
• Many of us can still remember the name of the person who greeted us on our first visit to a UU congregation. Go over greeting practices with greeters. Hold a role-play practice if necessary. Visit other congregations in the area and see what you can learn from them.
• Can visitors easily identify which door to enter from the parking lot? If not, add some signage. Also consider posting a greeter in the parking area or on the sidewalk outside the front door.
• Make sure your bathrooms pass the smell test. Add a basket with a few band-aids, feminine products, safety pins, diapers, and baby wipes.
• Check out the sound system, making sure it works properly. If you offer electronic aids for those who need hearing assistance, make sure that they have fresh batteries and that someone knows how to operate them.
• For Coffee hour, give one or two people the job of monitoring the room to make sure that visitors are connecting with members and to facilitate that process. Set up a laptop or other device that will continually show a brief video of congregational activities. It will give introverted visitors something to do if they are overwhelmed by conversation.
• Think about providing milk or half-and-half for the coffee rather than the powdered dairy substitute.
• Be prepared with a list of small groups and upcoming programs that guests can connect with as a next step.
• Have guests fill out an information sheet so that when they return next Sunday you can call them by name. Remember that most of them will have already checked the congregation out online and are already prepared to like you.
Don Skinner is editor of InterConnections, a newsletter for congregational leaders, and is a member of the Shawnee Mission UU Church in Overland Park, Kansas. You may email him at email@example.com and follow InterConnections on FaceBook.