Effective Ways to Ensure that Visitors do not Return to Your Parish


“But whatever city you enter and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, even the dust of your city which clings to our feet we wipe off in protest against you.” (Luke 10:10)


Thirty-eight years of priestly service in four parishes plus consulting in well over 100 parishes inform these observations:

1) Poorly maintain the website and make sure that information is not up to date.

2) Take care to hide or at least obscure signage when approaching the parish by car.

3) Procrastinate returning any phone calls or emails of inquiry concerning visiting the parish.

4) On large placards in the narthex write down the names of all parishioners who have pledged to the current capital campaign and exactly how much they have committed.

5) Ensure that there is no obvious way for Sunday visitors to access information on the parish.

6) Absolutely do not announce or host a coffee hour following services.

7) At the end of liturgy ask visitors to stand and identify themselves.

8) By all means do not train greeters or have them wear identification tags.

9) The priest must not prepare and deliver a sermon that is inspirational, instructional, interesting and of moderate length.

10. Try to convey the impression that children are barely tolerated as annoying little creatures.

11. Cram the Sunday bulletin with announcements related to fundraising.

12. The choir must not practice, arrive on time or sing prayerfully. Divas must perform!

13. Put the parish’s cultural heritage on full display forcefully communicating to visitors that this is a very special type of church and may be a bit of a challenge to join.

14. Poor acoustics should not be underestimated in terms of beneficially keeping visitors in the dark about what is being said and sung in the service.

15. Cluttered unclean facilities and grounds are a highly effective way to discourage revisits.

16.The guaranteed most effective means of discouraging visitors is to ensure that the priest loses his temper during the service, and ideally, raises his voice expressing displeasure.

17. Announcements following liturgy must be lengthy, repetitious, focused on fundraising or church discipline. Do not smile and do not present a welcoming, accepting and inviting attitude.

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