As I travel, consulting with church leaders, there is one area that few have really considered. Where do you want a new person to sit in your auditorium?
Usually, the immediate response I’m given is, “wherever they want to sit.” Now that answer reveals a heart that genuinely wants the guest to take things at their own pace and feel comfortable. The problem is, that new people in your church don’t know where they want to sit. They come in wondering where they’re “supposed” to sit and they have no history in that room to help them answer such a question.
So, if they navigate your auditorium on their own, will they sit in wrong places?
You might question where a wrong place would be. No, we’re not intending to suggest that they might sit in someone’s lifelong seat or that your people would be rude enough to ask them to vacate a preferred spot. But there are some “not-so-ideal” spots in your auditorium.
You probably don’t want them to accidentally sit down front. Few guests would do that on their own anyway. Those who are most demonstrative in worship usually sit toward the front. Besides, the closer you are to the front, the more people can see you and guests already feel sufficiently on display, so this isn’t the best spot for them.
Of course, in the back—a guests most likely landing spot—isn’t ideal either. There can be major distractions in the back of the auditorium. Sometimes, it’s a completely different service back there. Lots of moving around, usually some noise that’s not preferred, and from the back, the guest can see everyone else in the room–not always a good thing.
So, most say, well, let’s have them sit in the middle. That’s not a bad answer, but wouldn’t it be better if they sat near to the friendliest people in your church? Now, that’s a great idea! If they sit near friendly people, they are far more likely to receive a warm welcome from these folks that are more aware than others of the guests in the room.
But how will they know which are the friendly people? Someone needs to be on duty to make sure that guests are ushered to this ideal real estate. Consider having an auditorium greeter with that exact assignment. You know where your most friendly people usually sit, so be sure your ushers know too. That way, these new friends won’t be ignored by those around them and they may even have a guide to better understand the things happening around them. Friendly people know how to be aware of your guests and help their visit be as pleasant as possible.
By the way, since you’re already thinking about the auditorium experience your guests will encounter, consider how you can make your worship service more understandable too. Explain the action, the expressions of worship, and help people know why you are engaging them. Take a moment to make things clear, and you’ll probably discover a lot of your long-time attenders didn’t really understand those things either.
Just as when you have guests at home, you need to consider every moment they will spend in “your house.” Do all you can to help them feel at home and you will be more likely to have future opportunities to invest in their lives as well.
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