Today I made a 2nd visit to a church I'd blogged earlier this year with a less than positive account. I recently received an invitation from a member to revisit suggesting I'd see a difference this time. I'll blog this visit experience soon, but was unsettled by being subjected to yet another "pinch hitter" speaker whose 1-hour sermon was ok, but painfully long. It included a 20 minute justification of why and how he was preaching this sermon. The church website made no mention of the guest speaker or the subject of the talk. No mention. either, of why the regular pastor was missing. This is a disservice to any church visitor virtually guaranteeing they will not return.
Omission Common in Anchorage Churches
I spent time today looking at a number of church websites for churches I've visited in the past year. Only one mentioned their featured speaker for today.
November 8, the previous Sunday, I visited another local church, (visit report pending), that also had a guest speaker. No mention was made of why the regular pastor was not speaking or when he could be expected back in the pulpit.
This is not an uncommon occurrence in Anchorage churches. With potential visitors being lured to churches in hope of hearing the regular pastor, but only hearing a stranger, it's is clearly not fair to them. How does your church measure up? Your church may believe any visitor will receive a friendly welcome, and a well-delivered sermon on a typical worship day with the main pastor(s) missing, but my visits to Anchorage churches indicate otherwise, especially when a guest speaker is involved.
What's the Problem?
Many external church signs routinely list the name of the speaker along with the topic of their message. Additionally, the Anchorage Daily News allows churches to announce special sermons in Saturday's Matters of Faith page. Churches lose valuable visitor support by not being more forthright and posting this information. Isn't the website just as important as these other means?
I'd love to hear Anchorage churches and their members post their thoughts about why they are ignoring this visitor-friendly practice. In a period of declining church attendance, both nationally and especially in Alaska, churches need to put their best foot forward to inform potential visitors about the speaker and their topic.