Next time you are at your church, look around.
How do your signs look? Specifically, how do your “First Time Guest Parking” signs look?
Oh, you don’t have any? I will address that in a moment.
Do they look like they have been around for a while? Maybe quite a while?
Can you still read them?
Do they feature any graffiti or anything that fell out of a bird?
Do they look brand new? They probably should. Think about how much data first-time visitors receive when they just look at your first-time visitor sign.
Do they get the impression that your church is excited about new people?
It is nearly impossible to put ourselves in the shoes of first-time guests. However, they are taking a conscious or unconscious inventory of the things they see. Through simple signage, we can offer one of three impressions:
- We are really interested in new people visiting our church.
- We used to be really interested in new people visiting our church.
- We really are not that interested in new people.
How your church actually feels about new people isn’t the point here. The point is the impression you make on people as they drive into your parking lot.
Guests to our church are a precious gift. It is so cliche but so true, “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” Shouldn’t we want the very first impression to be “Wow this church really wants people to visit.”?
Of all the money our churches spend, isn’t it worth investing some to make sure our guests understand that we are interested in new people joining us.
Your “First Time Guest Parking” signs aren’t even about parking. Don’t be sad if you spend a lot of money on signs and guests don’t park there. I am not convinced that the average guest would even park there. Most people don’t want to draw attention to themselves. They might not be ready to identify themselves as new until they get a feel for you and your church. They don’t need to park by the sign for the sign to serve its purpose. If they see it, it has already served its function.
I visited a church a few weeks that had plenty of parking. There was even parking near the door. But they had no guest parking signs. The question that popped into my mind was, “Are guests welcome here?”
Go take a look at your signs. If they are ugly. Don’t feel bad. You are not alone. But feel inspired. Feel inspired to clean them, fix them, replace them, install them. You never know what impression they will make. A simple sign might open the door for someone to meet Jesus.