HOW TO: Prepare for a Crowd

In the weeks to come, many of our churches will have a program, worship service or event that could potentially be larger than our average attendance. So what is a church community to do when expecting a crowd…

  1. Open the Doors – I know it sounds simple, but make sure that your primary doors are unlocked. You might need extra signage to show the main entrance. Don’t start the event with an air of frustration over not knowing where to go.
  2. Test the Air – Especially in transitional weather between Fall and Winter, some venues may struggle to maintain a comfortable temperature throughout. So have a few recruited “air testers” seated around the space, so that if it gets too hot or too cool they can tell you in real-time. Being uncomfortable can pull someone’s focus out of the moment at hand, so prepare for the possibilities.
  3. Walk Around – As you prepare for the date, it would be a good idea to walk around your facilities. Church Mutual has a resource (PDF) called the Self-Inspection Safety Checklist. It is a very comprehensive list of things that you should look for around your facilities, focusing on the safety of your worship space. Even if you don’t take on Church Mutual’s list, I urge you to walk around your property and try to see it from a guest’s eye. Are any lights out? Are the cracks in the sidewalk dangerous? Are there changing stations in the women’s and men’s restrooms? Is your signage easy to read and see?
  4. Smile and Talk – When welcoming guests, there is this small fear that we are going to introduce ourselves to someone we have already met. Don’t worry, friendliness trumps forgetfulness. Just smile at everyone, talk to everyone, and steer clear of “insider” language. Instead of “have you been here before?” opt for “can I help you find something?” Instead of “our church has a nursery” opt for “do you need a nursery?”. A smile and a few kind words can make the difference in how welcome someone feels in the space.
  5. Don’t act surprised – It’s kind of silly to say, but we all have that “oh my goodness, I didn’t expect a crowd” face. In light of all the hard work of preparation and invitation, don’t be surprised when people show up. That is the point, right? If they suspect that having guest is not a normal occurrence, they might not be as willing to come back again. So play it cool, don’t act so surprised.

You never know when a crowd will show up, so be ready and be expecting them.

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