“Signs, Signs, Everywhere There’s Signs…”

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Those are the words of a newcomer family who had been anticipating a negative experience upon their first time at a church I was coaching in the southeastern U.S. But thanks to, among other things, the simple presence of many signs showing first-time newcomers how to make their way around the facility, this family felt like their presence was “anticipated”.
When the word “signs” is flashed before 99.9 percent of church people the first thought that pops into their heads is either the End Times or the idea of Signs and Wonders – both interesting topics.
However, if we are to connect with people surrounding us that God so loved that he sent Jesus to die for, perhaps it would be wise to pay a bit of attention to the words above. Without signs, pointing the way, no one who is new will be able to find his or her passage around the physical location of our campus, rented facility, etc. and the tacit message will come across loud and clear: “you are not welcome here” or minimally, “your presence is an afterthought….”
Ponder with me the following simple pointers that once put in place can speak volumes to your newcomers.
Have you noticed that God is a steward? Once you begin to take the newcomers He begins to send seriously, He faithfully sends more. Guaranteed, if we mistreat the treasure that newcomers are that vein of gold – that momentum – will stop in no time flat!
  • Think like a newcomer

Think like a newcomer as you enter your facility week after week. If you can’t pull that off, hire a secret shopper to do that for you. For the $20 per hour, this service will cost you it will be super well worth it.

  • You can’t have too many signs.

That’s not 100 percent true – don’t get to the point of looking cluttered.

  • Experiment with new signage approaches.

We are using LCD projectors, DVD players with creative/colorful versions of the message we are communicating that cycle through every couple of seconds.

  • The most important sign you can erect? The main entrance!

In survey after survey, I have taken a consistent response I have received is, “I am fearful of coming to church without someone bringing me for fear that I will walk in the wrong door and somehow I will end up being stared at by many faces…”

  • Your building is hidden – guaranteed!

You need at least four enthusiastic sign holders near your entrance 52 weeks a year holding large, professionally made, colorful, “55 mph” signs with your name and an arrow directing people to your driveway. DO NOT SETTLE FOR REAL ESTATE SIGNS! That is the lazy, inept and illegal way out! Smiling, waving, cheerful, “cheerleader” sign holders may well be the most important of all your greeters each week. Treat them well. (You may think everyone knows of your building – that isn’t accurate.

Years ago while in the Orange County area I made it a point to drive by the freeway near the Crystal Cathedral – the best-known church facility in the U.S at that time.

In the dozen or so times I have asked taxi drivers “Do you know what that building is over there?” the drivers always say, “Oh yeah – everyone knows what that is…” with great assurance. They go on to tell me that it is a… hospital, library, museum, arts center – no one has ever rightly identified it as a church and all of the drivers have lived in the area for at least a decade.

You might be surprised how few know of your building! As believers, we tend to falsely assume, “EVERYBODY knows us, where we are, what we are about, etc.” Keep on explaining – more communication, the constant explanation is needed!