I have never run across a church that did not consider itself to be friendly.  Ask any active member of any congregation and they will tell you that their congregation is one of the friendliest in town.

  The problem is that not every outsider sees it that way.  Many a visitor has been turned off by what they felt was a cold attitude at a church they had tried out.  So it is obvious that friendliness or at least the perception of it can be measured in different ways.

  I submit that a church must make a concious effort to be friendly.  Just because you have warm feelings for others does not mean they recognize it.  You must be intentional if you want people to feel welcome.  Visitors can't just read your mind.

  It saddens me to read a blog and see where someone visited a church and no one greeted them, no one showed them where to go, and no one spoke to them before they left.  I know our lives are busy, but anything worth having is worth working for and that includes a good reputation in this area.

  At one church I pastored we divided the church into sections and had a person assigned to each area to be sure anyone who new who sat there received a welcome.  Of course we hoped that many more people would greet the newcomers, but we new that they would get a warm word from at least one person.

  One area of friendliness that many churches ignore is the impression people get before they come into the building.  Drive up to your church as if you had never been there before.  Would the message on the church sign make you want to go in?  Are the building and grounds in good repair?  Businesses spend loads of money to be sure the outside looks good to potential customers--should the church of the living God get any less treatment?  I had an elderly man at one church who came and picked up the trash that might have blown into our lot so that we could put our best foot forward.

  Now get out of your car.  As a stranger do you know where to go?  Parking lot greeters are great for this.  Also well placed signs pointing the way to the nursery, worship center, Sunday school rooms, etc. are very helpful.  There's nothing more frustrating than being in an unfamiliar place and not knowing where to go.

  Once people get inside what do they see?  Is there someone to greet them and show them where to go?  What about the state of the building inside.  Does it need a facelift?  We get used to things being messed up--it almost becomes a part of the scenery.  But new folks notice these things and an unkempt building does not send out an inviting message.

  How about the services?  Now here is where I differ greatly with some great "thinkers" of our day.  Many insist that all must have a professional touch to have the right atmosphere.  I don't think God is at all impressed with our abilities.  However, I do think He wants our best.  And if a congregation is giving their best in music, prayers, preaching, and other elements of the service, people will know--they can feel it.

  However, if all is done well but the visitors are allowed to leave without anyone speaking to them then you still have not accomplished your goal.  You need to let them know you are genuinely glad they came.  If you really are happy too see them then let them know.  Oh and by the way, don't embarrass them by pointing them out in the service, have them wear some kind of tag, or any of the other old ways of singling people out.  The days that people liked that kind of thing have long gone away.

  Finally, follow up.  Send a letter, make a phone call, go by and visit.  In this new age you can send an email or a facebook message.  Whatever you do, do something to let them know you are glad they came.

  These suggestions are not church growth gimmicks.  They are just good practices for our churches.  Jesus would make people feel welcome and so should we.