So I’m reading a book which wants to tell me why people don’t come back to church after the first visit, and how churches can make it more likely that people return. And I come across this little snippet,
Seven minutes is all you get to make a positive first impression. In the first seven minutes of contact with your church, your first-time guests will know whether or not they are coming back. That’s before a single worship song is sung and before a single word of the message is uttered.
Obviously your guests aren’t making a logical decision based on the integrity of the preaching, the character of the church staff or the clarity of your doctrine. They are not weighing pros and cons of worship styles and theological viewpoints…. Instead, they are taking clues about your church’s atmosphere and the peopl’es friendliness on a much more rudimentary level. Their subconscious minds are working overtime to evaluate their compatibility with this new environment.
As the quote says, this isn’t a biblical observation, it’s a lesson drawn from studies of human behaviour and decision making. So what’s your experience?
- When you visit a church how long does it take you to form an opinion?
- How does the experience of getting from the street to your seat colour your expectations of the worship experience and teaching?
- Have you ever decided within 7 minutes not to return to a church?
- Have you experienced a church make a strong first impression on you within 7 minutes?
I certainly relate to this “7 Minute Principle”. I enjoy visiting other churches, but when I do I’m on pins and needles constantly scanning my environment trying to make intelligent judgments. What publications do they have in their foyer? Do they have a powerpoint projector? What songbook do they use? What Bible version do they have in their pews? Do they have pews or chairs? How are the worship leaders dressed? How many members carry Bibles? Does anyone talk to me or notice I’m a visitor? What are the demographics of the congregation? Does it look like it’s involved in the community, or is it still living in the 50’s?
A couple of other good books that cover this topic are: