If you want your church to grow, it’s important to make a good first impression. This means that you need to become vigilant about some of the little distracting idiosyncrasies that we tend to write off when we think, “It’s not a big deal. It’s only us here.”
Here’s a list of some tech issues that can become barriers for first-time visitors:
The 21st-century version of the dreaded missionary slide-projector show is the PowerPoint slideshow. Because someone took a whole bunch of pictures, there’s often a felt need to create a slideshow out of them and show them at church.
Too often this takes something that could be a great blessing and makes it a curse. It’s bad enough if there isn’t any thought to what kind of images are used — no one needs to see random pictures of grass or concrete. But when you make it the length of an entire song (or include a bunch of strange PowerPoint animation), it becomes something to be endured.
Think about first-time visitors: they don’t have any background or know anyone in the pictures. If you can’t create a slideshow that is meaningful to someone who’s never been there before, it’s best to put it on Facebook.
There’s no way around it; typos are going to make their way into your presentation. We’ll probably never reach a point where they are completely eradicated. But that’s no reason to excuse laziness! We need to be ever watchful in weeding them out. If they occur too often, they’ll definitely give your presentation a black eye.
Pastors often spend so much time putting the sermon together and then put together the presentation at the end. Because of that, it’s easy not to give the presentation the kind of scrutiny it deserves. Make sure you leave time to read through your presentation aloud before you send it off to the tech person.
Bad Presentation Syncing
Your presentation is created to accompany and accent the service elements. It’s pretty important that everything is planned well and communicated among all the players. I have been in too many churches where the person running the presentation isn’t really paying attention and song lyrics are coming in late or the pastor is mentioning slides that never show up.
For the pastor, it’s important that you make it clear where the presentation should be advancing (or better yet: just manage it yourself). It’s also hard on visitors when you’re communicating to someone in the booth when they should be advancing to the next slide.
Another related problem is missing slides. It can be a real jolt when you forget to include a slide that’s supposed to be there. Of course, this is a mistake that can happen to anyone, but check and re-check your sermon against the presentation to make sure it doesn’t!
Telling people to turn their phones off
Believe it or not, a lot of people are using their mobile devices to stay attentive to your messages. They’re using a Bible app or, like me, they’re taking notes or tweeting thoughts from the message. You want this. Sure, there are people who are idly scrolling through Facebook while you’re talking, but they’re generally people who wouldn’t be paying attention anyway. Yes: ask people to turn their phones down, but don’t tell them to turn them off.
Also, encourage this use of mobile computing by making it easy for visitors to get on the Wi-Fi. Don’t lock it down behind a password that no one can find.
No digital giving solution
People without context don’t understand the passing the plate thing, but they do understand giving generously. You want to make it as easy as possible to do so. Make sure they have a quick, secure and simple method like eChurchGiving’s Pushpay to give.
If you have your own church app, that’s even better. Because after they give, they can stay connected to your church after they’ve left by watching your sermons, reading your blogs or listening to your podcasts — this can help encourage their return. eChurch’s Total Engagement Package is an example of a customizable church app that comes bundled with Pushpay’s giving software.
Get ready for your visitors
Making visitors feel welcome is about learning to see things through their eyes. It can be a hard discipline to learn, but once you do it can revolutionize your ministry. If you want to become an expert at laying out the red carpet to your first-timers, download a free copy of the First-Time Visitor Checklist.