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Walk A Mile in Your Guests’ Shoes

2 min read By June 16, 20212 Comments

Who do you want to reach with your church plant? Hopefully, it is everyone who comes through the doors on a Sunday morning. But how can you do that if you are only using the perspective of one type of person?

Get Rid of the Insider Lens

When creating a church experience that will reach new people, we sometimes forget to take off the perspective of an insider. You do not have to water down your message to reach new people with your church. All you have to do is be considerate of their perspective. You cannot do this if you do not first realize that what makes sense to you may not be clear to everyone else.

You are familiar with your church’s traditions and ways of doing things, but an outsider has no idea what to expect. There are message topics and worship songs that long-time believers may get a lot out of but may not get any traction with a first-time guest or someone new to the faith. Admitting this reality is the first step to making your worship experience more effective in reaching all people, not just church people.

Put on the Outsiders’ Lens

People will come to your church for the first time with wrong assumptions, misunderstandings, and mistrust about your church. If you do not address these perspectives right away, you will not reach people as effectively through your message. You can do this by over-communicating what they can expect from your church throughout their time with you. This is accomplished through signage outside and inside the building, a worship guide, communicating expectations during worship, a transition to the message that addresses first-time guests, and team members who have a hospitality mindset towards guests.

Another thing to consider about outsiders is that not everyone wants to be identified and celebrated for attending your church. Most people want to check you out anonymously to ensure that they trust you enough to be recognized as a new person. Allow people to find out more about you anonymously and make it easy for them to let you know they are there when they are ready. Not everyone is an extrovert looking to meet a ton of new people on their first visit.

It’s About Serving

If you have ever studied the Five Love Languages, you know you can be putting your maximum effort into something that is not very meaningful to the person to whom you wish to show appreciation. It is the same with your church experience.

When you take time to see how others are experiencing you as a church, what you are really doing is making sure that you are serving and loving them well. Instead of asking people to come up to where we are, we should be willing to come down to them and ask, “How can I help you?” We do this by being ready to see things from others’ points of view and making the adjustments to help them take their first steps of faith.


  • Kristi Ann Carter says:

    This is good.
    Also, finding out how your volunteers feel too makes a difference.
    Team building is super important even for newer volunteers.

  • Joe Butler says:

    Good stuff, Josh! Walking a mile in your guests’ shoes is a great way to welcome individuals and families living with disability as well.

    As a parent of a 20-year-old son with multiple disabilities and a disability ministry leader for 15 years, we’ve experienced and heard from hundreds of families about the good and bad in churches across the nation.

    From my perspective, individuals and parents impacted by disability don’t expect the pastor or leader to know what to say or do all the time, they just want to be welcomed and included like anyone else. As you say, as pastors and leaders, if we are just willing to come down and take time to ask, “How can we help serve and love you?” By making intentional accommodations or modifcations you can include the individual and family into the life of your church, starting them on their journey of faith in Jesus.

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