Browse
What to Expect When You’re Expecting (To Visit a Church)

What to Expect When You’re Expecting (To Visit a Church)

Posted September 13, 2018 by Dave Hartwell

I recently made a long-overdue addition to my job description as a church communications coordinator: visit other churches. Sometimes the best way to understand our own context is to see how things are done in another. Therefore, once a quarter, I visit another church in order to help me assess my own church's guest interactions and encourage new ideas for my church’s setting.

It's important not to approach this task too casually. Rather, my work will benefit most if I keep these visits strategic, consistent, efficient, and fair. For this, I developed my own Church Visit Rubric. Before sharing this rubric, however, it's important that I carefully articulate some of the rationale behind what makes a good church visit rubric.
 

1. A Rubric Standardizes My Visits.

First, a good rubric standardizes my visits to help me notice and appreciate more. These visits are not about assigning a grade to a church's communication efforts. Rather, standardizing my visits allows me to approach other churches with a consistent methodology so that my own thoughts and opinions don’t interfere with my posture of learning. In other words, the rubric protects me from my two most common feelings when visiting other churches: jealousy or judgment.
 

2. A Rubric Asks the Right Questions

The questions should be specific enough for concrete feedback, but open enough to notice novel approaches. For example, an early draft of my rubric included the question: "Was I greeted?" I later changed this to: "In what ways was I welcomed?" It's a far less limiting question and allows the possibility that there are different ways of welcoming someone. It's the difference between asking someone "What are 25 ways to design a ladder?" versus "What are 25 ways to reach a high place?" You're going to get a lot more creative answers to the second question.
 

3. A Rubric Keeps Communication Central

My rubric is not a set of criteria for helping me pick a church to join. If it were, I'd be asking different questions. "What is the church's mission?" is a great question to ask when picking a church. "How is the church's mission articulated?" is a better question for this rubric.
 

4. A Rubric Puts Me In Their Shoes

The standardization of my questions keeps me from viewing the church solely as a "Church Communications Coordinator". Rather, the rubric should encourage me to see this church as a first-time visitor, as a long-time member, as a youth who has grown up in the church, as a college student exploring their first church away from their parents, as a non-believer who was invited by a friend from work, as a member who grew up in a church but hasn’t attended in many years, etc. The ability to see the church from different angles is an essential aspect of the rubric, and essential to our roles as communicators.
 

5. A Rubric Can Be Applied to My Own Church

It's easy to get into a "rut" when it comes to our own communication efforts. Institutional inertia leads to the same things happening over and over again. Applying the Church Visit Rubric to our own setting will help us see better what is working and what isn't.

 

Admittedly, this rationale only goes so far, but it greatly informs how I have developed and utilize my own rubric, which you can find linked in this article. My rubric is categorized into pre-visit, visit, and post-visit, and I've found it incredibly helpful in my growth as a church communicator.

Please take a look, offer a comment, and use and tweak the rubric for your own needs. If you have your own rubric for visiting churches, feel free to share it!

Filed under: Branding, Visitor's Perspective, Communications, Leadership

About the Author

Dave Hartwell

Dave is a church communications coordinator living and working in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Through his work he supports staff, leadership, and congregations in providing resources and practices to effectively communicate their shared ministries. When he isn't thinking about church communications he enjoys golfing, reading, running, and playing team trivia (even then, he's probably still thinking about church communications a little).

Don't miss a post

Join our email list

Comments (0)

Leave a Comment

Share your thoughts about this blog post with us.
All fields are required.

Recent Posts

Good Websites Remove Barriers
Good Websites Remove Barriers
0

Posted January 22, 2019 by Bryan Haley

After moving to a new city, we started looking online for a new church, and it made me realize how many churches don’t prioritize their website. A poor website does nothing to help potential guests want to show up on Sunday. Here’s how a good website removed barriers.
2019 Design Trends Forecast
2019 Design Trends Forecast
2

Posted January 17, 2019 by Gage Hunt

What should your church be expecting out of graphic design trends this year? Here's our best guess.
15 of the Best Church Websites for 2019
15 of the Best Church Websites for 2019
0

Posted January 15, 2019 by Bryan Haley

We've spent dozens of hours searching the web to find the best church websites in North America. Here are 15 of the best church websites this year.
Go Live or Go Home: Streaming Strategy for Small Churches
Go Live or Go Home: Streaming Strategy for Small Churches
1

Posted December 27, 2018 by Matthew Hooper

Thanks to Youtube, Facebook Live, and the advent of affordable smartphones, anyone can get in on the online church game. Here are some questions to work through to set up a winning strategy with taking your church live.
A Checklist for Your Ministry’s Online Strategy in 2019
A Checklist for Your Ministry’s Online Strategy in 2019
1

Posted December 20, 2018 by Tyler Rominger

Here are some thoughts, formed into a checklist of sorts, in order to help you form your organization’s online strategy for 2019.
Here’s How to Communicate to the Right Crowd
Here’s How to Communicate to the Right Crowd
0

Posted December 18, 2018 by Jeanette Yates

Church communications is about sharing information and inspiration both to the church members and to the larger community. Here’s how to determine what to share and where.
Top 5 for 2018
Top 5 for 2018
2

Posted December 13, 2018 by Bryan Haley

2018 is coming to a close, but before we jump into the new year, we want to take a look back at some of this year's most popular articles.
How Much Time Is Enough Time? Best Practices for Church Event Timelines
How Much Time Is Enough Time? Best Practices for Church Event Timelines
2

Posted December 11, 2018 by Jeanette Yates

Churches often underestimate the amount of time needed to share information about, or promote events and services. Doing this can not only frustrate your team but hinder volunteers and attendee participation. Here’s how to make sure your communications are timely and effective.
How to Run an Effective Team Planning Meeting
How to Run an Effective Team Planning Meeting
0

Posted December 6, 2018 by Carrie Evans

A yearly planning meeting can help your team align, have fun together, invigorate your vision, develop a communications plan, and break down ministry silos.
Getting Strategic With Your Church Blog
Getting Strategic With Your Church Blog
1

Posted December 4, 2018 by Joe Gallant

I get asked, “Should we have a blog on our church website?” My usual answer is a helpful “maybe!” Let’s explore some of the common pitfalls, and some helpful strategies for making the most of a church blog.