Gaining an Outside Perspective

4 Experiences for Your to Gain an “Outside” Perspective on Your Church

Four Experiences for You to Gain an “Outside” Perspective on Your Church

Rich Burch serves as operations pastor at Liquid Church in Morristown, N.J., and offers up his insights on ministry at unSeminary.com. Here he challenges you to consider what it would be like to experience your church as a first-time guest. He believes we have to become “outsiders” to feel what it’s like inside.

With a few members of your team, do something totally terrifying. Then use that experience to fuel conversations about what it’s like to visit your church for the first time. Let how you felt fuel a passion for your first-time guests. Here are four ideas:

Volunteer at Bingo

When my kids were younger, they were in a cooperative day care. Every parent had to pitch in and help with the operation. I “got” to work at bingo one Saturday morning. Bingo halls across the country have volunteer workers whose associated nonprofits receive pay in exchange for their service. It was a nerve-wracking experience because bingo has its own insider language, elaborate rituals and a strong sense of who the “regulars” are. Find a bingo hall close to you; call them and see if a nonprofit could use a few extra people to help out. That feeling hasn’t left me all these years later, and I still think about what we can do to remove the discomfort that I felt from our visitors’ first-time experiences. Check out NationwideBingo.com.

Check out a “Con.”

Chances are good there is some sort of fan convention in your town, or close by, a few times a year. Stroll through the event and learn about what’s happening. How does the enthusiasm of the participants and organizers make you feel as a first-time guest? Resist the urge to judge. Simply take it in as an opportunity to learn about what’s happening in this subculture.

Attend a synagogue.

For the slightly more adventurous, why not reconnect with our Jewish brothers and sisters? Find a synagogue close to you. How does it feel to participate in a worship experience where you understand a portion of what’s going on, but not the whole thing? How does the sense of community and family express itself through the service? What would encourage you to attend again? Were there clear next steps?

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Lose your boarding pass.

Airports are fascinating design experiences. They move around thousands of first-time guests every day with surprising efficiency. The signage at airports is a master class in simplicity and functionality; they are dealing with an international audience of weary travelers! If you ever have a little time to spare at the airport, “lose” your boarding pass. If you’re traveling with a group, try “accidentally” throwing out the entire group’s passes in the bathroom. Then go through the process of getting new passes issued. What made the process simple or difficult? How did you know what steps to take? How can you apply what you learn from that experience to the processes at your church?