10 Minutes


The time during church that makes the greatest impression on a visitor is 10 minutes right after the service. These are the most authentic minutes of the morning. Why? Because for the vast majority of churches, no one has a role at this point. The stage is vacant. The ushers concluded their duties when they took everyone’s money. If the pastor doesn’t really want to talk to anyone, he busies himself in a comfortable conversation with friends. The children volunteers are relieved the parents are rescuing them. The show is over and the expectations are off. Everyone can just be themselves.


For visitors, though, this is when the lasting impression is made. First impressions are important, but the last impression is the lasting impression. This is the point when visitors are answering the questions they have been asking themselves: Will I find any friends here? Are the people here genuine? Is this a place I could really belong? They may have just sat through a great show, but now they are concluding whether it was all real.


In a recent book titled What Every Pastor Should Know, there is a short chapter that talks about The Ten Minute Rule. It highlights why these 10 minutes are so important with people’s comments about recent church visits:


“It’s the last thing I experienced and the most vivid memory I drove away with.”
“It confirmed the experience I had had before and during the service.”
“It told me a lot about the priorities of that church.”
“When no one talked to me after the service, it made a mockery of the ‘friendship time’ during the service.”


Here are some things you can do if you recognize your church is missing the opportunity with visitors during these 10 minutes:


  1. Remind everyone to greet someone they don’t know. We are naturally self-occupied. A little reminder can go a long way of snapping us out of ourselves.
  2. Organize row-hosts. Most congregants sit in the same place every week. If your church doesn’t charge a pew-tax, at least give the settlers a job to do. Row-hosts know if there is a visitor within ear-shot it is their responsibility to talk to them.
  3. Have an after-service host. A lot of churches have greeters at the door before the service. What about a team of greeters after the service? They can be tasked with presenting a gift to a visitor, asking for contact information, or carrying a tray of small snacks to offer a guest.
  4. Provide an ice-breaker question. Before dismissing, suggest a silly conversation starter, like, How long will your nap be this afternoon? Who will win the game? What is your favorite _____?


Put yourself in the shoes of the guest. The greatest hope is the person meets with God. At the very least, though, the person should meet God’s people. May no one ever come into the gathering of God’s people and leave lonely.


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