If you run a Church, you are obliged to look after your guests. This can be easier said than done, as you’ll often have different people of different ages come through your door. How can you plan for everyone? How can you look after a stranger, when you don’t know what they’re like? It’s tricky, but not impossible.
It’s why you should focus on universal appeal, and not age or gender specific aspects. From seating to refreshments, your Church needs to be an all-inclusive, welcoming environment. It needs to be a place where young men and old women alike can feel comfortable. In order to get this vibe, there are certain things you can do to up the appeal of your particular establishment.
So, without further ado, here is your guide to accomplishing that all-inclusive atmosphere.
1. Plan group activities, not just individual ones
Nobody wants to feel left out, especially here. So if you plan any activities, take into consideration the needs of the many, not the few. Why not sort out a trip to a play, plan a midnight walk, or visit a historical museum? Social activities bring people together over a mutual love for something, and that’s key in making people feel welcome.
2. Make sure the seating is comfortable enough
Visiting Church involves a lot of sitting down, so you’ll have to make sure those behinds are comfortable. One way to do this is to buy some cheap cushions to go on top of the seats. While this isn’t a long-term solution, it will work in the meantime until you find another avenue.
Purchasing a brand new set of chairs may be your best option. Most Church chairs already come with padding, so you won’t have to fork out for any cushions. Additionally, make sure the chairs you choose are built to be placed on top of one another. You’ll simplify your job, as stackable Church chairs are easier to clear away when not in use.
3. Respect that everyone will want some alone time
While you should plan some group activities, as previously mentioned, don’t neglect the fact that people may want alone time. People can get very deep in thought in Church, so don’t disrupt this peaceful time. Sometimes, it’s best to leave people alone and let them go down their own path.
At the same time, don’t encourage an individually-focused atmosphere. Church is not a place where people should feel lonely, or isolated. You should strive to create a welcoming environment, where anybody of any background can share their stories. Let people discuss deep, personal matters if so desired. Let the group provide feedback, and help each other out. Foster these positive relationships to make your Church a place of harmony, not disdain.
4. Offer refreshments to keep everyone happy
Some people may be at your Church for a long time, so keep plenty of refreshments handy. Even a simple packet of biscuits and a glass of water will do. If you have a big day ahead, plan in the morning and set up a tea and coffee table. Remember that not everyone will like everything, so provide a number of options to avoid disappointment.
Also, it’s best to avoid foods and beverages that give off a strong odor, or that produce a high number of allergies. You never know who could walk through your doors that day, but you’re obligated to take care of them. Avoid nuts, and dairy products – they’re common allergens. Avoid anything like cooked meats that give off a certain smell. Stick with the basics; tea, coffee, water, juice and biscuits. You aren’t a restaurant, but you could still offer something!
5. Try and engage people in unique ways
Your audience will be varied, and you have to try and engage every one of them. There are numerous tactics that have been tried over the years, including ones to try and engage a younger demographic.
Of course, I’m not asking you to start rapping but you get the point. When you teach, try and liven up your speeches with audience engagement and participation. Make people enjoy this time, and look forward to it. If they’re sat down on wooden benches for three hours listening to you speak in a monotone way, you could lose their attention. Be lively! Be excited that you’re here! I know for a fact that everyone else is.
Setting up a Church is a lot like setting up a business. You have to think about how people will view you, and think about if they will enjoy your company. You want to welcome people, and not drive anyone away. It’s tricky to get right, but is rewarding when you do. Good luck!