Heritage: Visitors and tourists
If your church building looks closed or neglected, itís a huge barrier to people entering, whether seeking a new place of worship or as a visitor interested in heritage, arts or community activity. Here are some suggestions to help consider your building afresh:
A small selection of church Visitors' Books have been explored to identify the top visitor comments made about churches during 2016.
If you'd like to see the results, please email Emily Allen.
Visitor welcome assessment
You might like to select one of the following toolkits to use by your church congregration. It may also be helpful to invite people who are not regular users of the church to be part of the assessment:
- Place of Interest Quality Assurance Scheme - This is a great way to be professionally assessed, providing an objective view of your church building. It includes a toolkit for assessment.
- Audit for visitor welcome, by the North West Multi-Faith Tourism Association
Encouraging visitors and security
- NEW FOR 2016. Church Visitor Welcome Toolkit. By the Dicoese of Newcastle and Durham. A practical guide to assist churches interpret their buildings and welcome visitors and tourists
- Opening up Your Church Building. Guidance by the Church of England's ChurchCare. Resources include 'welcoming visitors and tourists', 'improving the visitor experience', 'visitor advice websites' and 'top 10 tips to encourage visitors'. Advice on making church buildings more sustainable through wider community use is also provided
- Security for open churches. Ecclesiastical Insurance encourages churches to be open and offers practical guidance:
- Churches Visitor and Tourism Association. The UK's leading body in promoting best practice in welcoming visitors to places of worship
- Churches Trust for Cumbria. Some useful examples and advice
- Churches Tourism Network Wales. A great resource. See the 'Hints and Tips' and 'Resources' sections for practical guidance that's relevent to all churches.
- Diocese of Chester Heritage section for Digital- this includes guidance on visitor welcome on websites
- ‘Managing the experience of visitors in sacred spaces’ is a resource developed by the Cultural Tourism Committee of ICOMOS-UK (UNESCO World Heritage Organization) in collaboration with London Metropolitan University, Oxford Brookes University and St Paul’s Cathedral. The teaching resource is now available free of charge and could benefit a church group considering the main issues for their church.
- Managing Your Building. Guidance from the National Churches Trust includes visitor welcome.
- Welcoming cyclists. Guidance from Churchcare on cycle parking
- Open Churches toolkit London Diocese has launched new guidance to encourage more of their churches to open their doors. The guidance offers insight into the benefits of being open and how to overcome any of the concerns that might have put people off opening their church in the past. The case studies at the end demonstrate how other parishes have gone about it and show how the benefits often exceed expectations.
- Creative use of church buildings. The ChurchCare website covers a range of topics, from events and commercial use to social justice work
Interpreting your church building
See the Displays and Interpretation section of the website
Marketing and promotion
- A Church Near You. Have you registered? It's free and simple to add details. Make sure your details are full and up to date. For example, have you written an engaging summary of your church? Are events current? Have you selected all the facilities icon relevent to your church, for example, toilets or open doors symbol? Is there a link to your website? And so on.
- ChurchDays. A new website developed by the Church of England's Church Buildings Council
- ExploreChurches. A new website by the National Churches Trust- register for free
- Get Your Church Noticed. A website and accompanying book that has plenty of practical tips
- Local guides/websites. Are you included in church or tourism guides/brochures or tourism websites?
- Own church leaflet/flier. Consider where this could be displayed, for example, local places of interest, other churches in the area, local cafes and B&B's etc, provided the quality is suitable.
- Churches trail leaflet - could you devise a trail linking several churches?
- Social media. For example, Facebook and Twitter
- Apps. They can be designed to promote events/activity, so people can find out what's on from their smart phone/i phone
Towers & Spires cycle trail
The Diocese of Chester have produced a church cycle trail, beginning from Chester Cathedral and taking a tour of nine of our churches. For more information, see the Towers & Spires page. (Photograph of St Peter's Church, Hargrave)
Visitor welcome table
Christ Church, Birkenhead, have recently created a welcome table near the entrance to the church. The table features:
- Signs - Welcome (back centre); special feature WW1 (back left); church history (back right)
- Visitor Book (front centre)
- Church leaflet (middle right)
- Children's trail (middle left)
- Map of church layout (front right)
Return to Heritage homepage