Visitors just slow things down and get in the way. Precious time that could be spent with our friends is wasted on people who probably visit once or twice, only to be never heard from again.
We grew up going to church with our families; they didn't. We went to college; they didn't. We're good Christians . . . it's obvious, isn't it? All you have to do is look at that glow in our smiles. As to these visitors, well, it's just as obvious that their lives have been . . . let's just leave it at "less than optimized."
We can save everyone a lot of time and trouble if we nip this in the bud at the outset. The bottom line is that the best way to deal with church visitors is to make them feel as unwelcome as possible. The following are some tips to help you do just that:
1. Ignore them. This is the easiest and perhaps the most important tool in our arsenal. Don't make eye contact. Instead, stick closely with your friends. Eventually, they'll go away.
2. Hire church staff who will ignore them. Church staff are paid to care for the needs of the flock, after all. We aren't paying them to take care of outsiders.
3. Create as much bureacracy as possible. Make sure that your senior pastor understands his/her role as a sort of CEO. He or she has built this church into what it is today. They can't be bothered with the mundane spiritual needs of visitors or newbies, or spiritually needy people.
Granted, gospel accounts tell us that Jesus made himself available to pretty much anyone who had a need. But then again, Jesus didn't have email, a website, a blog or a sermon to write every week.
4. If you have smaller group activities, make sure that it is impossible for visitors to participate. The best way to do this is to have an annual enrollment period and make sure that you do not, under any circumstances, provide any information to visitors as to these groups. You don't want to give them any ideas.
For that matter, make sure that the bureacracy that you create makes it impossible for visitors to particpate in anything. We certainly don't want them to get any ideas that they can pitch in- teach a class, say a prayer, help with the collection plate, etc. If they participate, they might actually feel like they are part of your group; like they have some ownership in it. It will make them feel almost as if they belong. And this is a real problem.
5. Never, ever, admit anything. The happier and more perfect your lives seem, the more that these visitors will realize that they don't fit in. If you ever admit sin or troubles, they might somehow identify with you and decide to stick around.
6. Always ask yourself: "What wouldn't Jesus do?" Then do it. If they actually see Jesus in your church, you'll never be able to get rid of them.
We can all save everyone a lot of wasted time and energy if we simply lay the cards out on the table. We've worked way too hard to build our church into what it is today. The last thing we need is someone coming in that might cause us to change the way we think, or the things we do.
And after all, challenging the religious status quo causes nothing but trouble for everyone.