Personal Ministries Resources

10 Ways to have a User-friendly Church

by Jeanette and John Kemp

In setting out these suggestions we have considered that the "church" is the local church congregation and the "users" include:

All those who attend the local church both on a regular basis and occasionally; members and non-members; children, youth and adults; and people who may visit the local church from other churches or from the surrounding community.

1. Have genuine respect for others
Show people that you care about them personally. This is more than just tolerance. This is especially important when you feel sure you are in the right over some issue. Nothing destroys "user-friendliness" in a church faster than distancing, non-acceptance or warfare between factions.

2. Enjoy the diversity that people bring to the life of the church
Devise ways of allowing diversity to flourish and be expressed in all church activities, including worship time, Sabbath School and outreach. Think of the church as more like a family than an army.

3. Provide a regular time for sharing
Provide five to ten minutes during the early part of the worship service for sharing the important moments and events in the lives of the "family" members – a time when the "family" can weep together, celebrate together and pray together.

4. Publish a monthly newsletter for everyone – whether regular attenders or not
Encourage everyone to contribute. This not only fosters communication between members, but also tells those who may not attend regularly that they are not forgotten. Mail or deliver to non-attenders.

5. Be truly welcoming
Welcome visitors at some point in the worship service by name if practical, showing real interest in each one. This can be done by having people at the door greeting visitors and finding out their names and something about them. The information can be given to the elder in charge before the service commences.

6. Be truly hospitable
A truly hospitable church is one where the visitors, and those who are alone, lonely or finding life hard for one reason or another, are automatically looked after by all the rest. If this doesn't happen automatically, devise some scheme by which deacons, deaconesses, elders and others can be rostered to look out for and look after these people.

7. Design worship time so that it addresses the needs of your particular church family
This will inevitably mean that the worship time will not be exactly the same every week. Sometimes it will address the needs of older people, sometimes the children, and at other times the youth or young families.

8. Involve as many as possible in the worship activities
Be creative in presenting the Scripture reading (eg use responsive reading, video etc).
Involve several speakers, music, readings, stories etc.
At times include several instruments, song leaders, children, young people to lead singing.

9. Connect with the community in a real way
Discover the needs of your local community. Try to address these needs without worrying about baptisms. Let the community see that your church is not an exclusive, holier-than-thou, religious club.

10. Be open to change, new ideas and new ways of doing things
– especially when they come from younger adults in your church family. In the future it will be either their living church or just a relic.