10 Better Practices for Effective Guest Response

The most-asked questions at each Auxano Guest Experience Boot Camp consistently revolve around recognizing, and hopefully eliciting, some kind of response from First Time Guests. After serving more than 100 churches and campuses while curating Guest Perspective Evaluations, I have observed various styles of church Welcome Team best practices in this arena. Here are a few common forms of Guest recognition that ultimately end in failure to produce a second visit:

The Family Reunion – We are very friendly and love it when we have first timers and they will definitely feel welcomed. But like the “last boyfriend,” we don’t expect them to be here the next time we gather so we do not invest much real effort.

The Sorority Ceremony – We quickly forget that we invited that guy to be Santa at our Christmas Party and leave him in the corner while we conduct some weird “OMG! You got engaged!” ritual. We feel sorry that he was uncomfortable and we wasted his time during exams week, but it’s our house and our rules.

The Eggshell Walk – We work hard to make sure our Guests can remain completely anonymous. However, in consciously sidestepping Guest parking spots or welcome centers, it becomes MORE conspicuous and uncomfortable to visit our campus and wander helplessly around for the first time.

The Humanitarian Relief – We are so tired from keeping the ministry held together and the lights turned on, that whenever a new family visits, they are mobbed like aid workers during a third-world famine. Every smile carries a certain sense of desperation and the hopes that “you are the one” that return us to our former glory.

Here are 10 Better Practices for Effective Guest Response:

  1. Remember to leave time for them to fill out the card. If you announce the seat/pew-back connection card immediately before the offering plate or another stand-and-sing song starts, people will not have time to fill it out. Think through your service timing and make welcome announcements intentional not automatic.
  2. Provide pens too. Keep the seats stocked or hand them out at the door. This simple reminder is essential for filling out cards and taking notes on the sermon. Invest in branded pens and invite them to “steal the pens” as long as they leave them for their server at lunch, alongside a generous tip.
  3. Don’t ask for too much information. Think through how much you are asking for on the connection cards and what you will do with it. Do you really need every data point, or just enough to follow-up the next week?
  4. Provide your contact information first. Why would a first time guest give you, a somewhat over-caffeinated announcement maker, their cell phone number? List your contact information, whatever you are asking for from them, first. Unless you are ready for them to call you randomly, do not expect to be able to call them randomly.
  5. Tell them why you want their information. If you need their address or cell phone number, then tell them why. If they know that you are just sending a thank-you note and not going to show up out of the blue some evening, they may be more likely to give it to you.
  6. Trade them for something. One great way to receive a Guest response is to give Guest swag. Consider a “swap” for the connection card in the form of a Bible, book, teaching resource or other tangible items. But be careful, some churches have gone too far with this idea!
  7. Tie their response to your vision. What if you choose to invite your Guests into God’s better future, to share in your missional calling, instead of just making the typical announcement? Let them know how their response demonstrates a core value of your church, represents the next step in their spiritual growth, or forms the foundation of long-term disciple-making success.
  8. Don’t send them to a back room or dark corner. Position any next steps, meet and greet areas, or welcome centers in prime locations within the flow of traffic. Very few people will go against the flow to huddle under the dark balcony stairs – no matter what new swag you have to give them.
  9. Plan for a multi-dimensional response. Create two to three different opportunities to respond rather than just relying on one card. You should provide online web forms, Facebook group pages and regular discovery classes to attend. Move beyond the worship tear-off card and look for other, natural opportunities to connect. Team up with the Kids ministry and share information about Guest families, as every parent will have given contact information at sign-in.
  10. Plan the work and work the plan. Think through the entire experience a new family will have at your church, from their first Google search to the ride home. Now think beyond the first visit and how that family will be engaged and growing in Christ at your church. Create a plan and the supporting systems that move people toward God’s better future, one step at a time. Assign one person to have ownership over the entire process, working with and for every ministry.

At Auxano, we use Seven Checkpoints to frame the Guest Experience process from the web to the welcome center. Interested in learning more? Bring a team of up to five leaders to one of our upcoming Guest Experience Boot Camps and learn how to integrate the seven checkpoints, as well as create an intuitive plan to get an excellent Guest response at your church.

Find out more about the Guest Experience Boot Camps here.

> Read more from Bryan.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bryan Rose

As Lead Navigator for Auxano, Bryan Rose has a strong bias toward merging strategy and creativity within the vision of the local church and has had a diversity of experience in just about every ministry discipline over the last 12 years. With his experience as a multi-site strategist and campus pastor at a 3500 member multi-campus church in the Houston Metro area, Bryan has a passion to see “launch clarity” define the unique Great Commission call of developing church plants and campus, while at the same time serving established churches as they seek to clarify their individual ministry calling. Bryan has demonstrated achievement as a strategic thinker with a unique ability to infuse creativity into the visioning process while bringing a group of people to a deep sense of personal ownership and passion.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Are there any reliable statistics about the percentage of church plants that fail after 3 years in the US?
 
— Jon Moore
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Simple Steps to Social Media Success

I recently came across the infographic below at Entrepreneur.com in an article related to the customer service woes of Cracker Barrel and United Airlines that I mentioned on the blog.

While many of you may see the principles and stats in the infographic relating to the business side of customer service, there are several items applicable and translatable to local churches. Here are just four of them:

  1. Our perception of our church may not match our community’s perception of our church. There’s a massive difference in the amount of companies (80%) who believe they offer great customer service and what the actual public thinks (8%). Is there an imbalance regarding your church’s reputation? Do you truly know how your church is viewed in the community? Is your church really “the friendliest church in town” like you think it is?
  2. Experiences your members have at your church should make them want to invite others to join them there. When we have a great experience or great meal at a restaurant, we tell our friends. Does the weekly worship service, the community built in small groupsor the life-change experienced on mission with those in your church motivate members to tell others about it? Are your members walking billboards for your church and their Savior?
  3. Leaders and staff should be responsive to questions or comments from members. If your staff is involved in the daily lives of members, there will naturally be ongoing conversations about what’s going on in the church. Do your members feel informed and involved in the decisions of the church? Or do they feel like things are run behind closed doors?
  4. Communications from your church should be personalized as much as possible. When your church sends out emails or mailings, the information that is being shared should convey warmth and fondness. Personalization of communications can make the difference in people understanding and retaining the information or ignoring it completely. Is your welcome letter to guests personalized? Do you tailor messages to different groups or do you blast out information regardless of who the audience is? 

I understand there is a difference in customer service and communication to church members and guests. I also realize church members shouldn’t have a customer mentality. But this infographic below sheds quite a bit of light on some simple practices that can be adapted for churches that will allow them to communicate more effectively with their members.

What other takeaways can you infer from the infographic below? Does your church already do some of these?

> Read more from Thom.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources.  Prior to LifeWay, he served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for twelve years where he was the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism.  He is a 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama and earned his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition to speaking in hundreds of venues over the past 20 years, Rainer led Rainer Group, a church and denominational consulting firm, from 1990 to 2005. The firm provided church health insights to over 500 churches and other organizations over that period. Rainer and his wife, Nellie Jo, have three grown sons: Sam, Art and Jess, who are married to Erin, Sarah and Rachel respectively.  The Rainers have six grandchildren: Canon, Maggie, Nathaniel, Will (with the Lord), Harper, and Bren. He is the author of twenty-four books, including Breakout Churches, Simple Life, Simple Church, Raising Dad, The Millennials, and Essential Church.  His latest book, Autopsy of a Deceased Church, was released in 2014 by B&H Publishing Group.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Are there any reliable statistics about the percentage of church plants that fail after 3 years in the US?
 
— Jon Moore
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Creating a Distinctive Guest Experience Requires Action

Editors Note: During our August focus on Guest Experiences, we are honored to have some of the best voices in the world of Customer Experience provide guest posts for the Vision Room. As you read the content below, simply think “Guest” in terms of the target the author is talking about – and you will benefit from the knowledge and expertise of some great minds.


Several times over the past several weeks, I’ve observed an interesting phenomenon.

At every presentation, I’ll be outlining the steps required to stand out in the marketplace of the group I’m speaking to — even with a slide at the end of each point saying, “What to do when you get home” with a list of actions every participant should take.

However, at the end of the presentation, I will now say to the group: “Before my last story, I want you to write down the first thing that you are going to DO when you get home to stand out from your competition.”

Invariably, some will instantly scribble a point, circle it, draw arrows pointing to it, and smile.  However, many in the group stare at the ceiling, rub their foreheads and write in fits and starts. (Even though I’ve already given them at least a dozen potential first steps during the presentation.)

Why?

Obviously, it’s possible that some just weren’t listening.  However, as I’ve observed them taking notes, that isn’t the correct answer for most of the ones involved.

Here’s my take — it’s a two-step problem.

  • First, it’s one thing to see a list of potential steps you can take.  It’s quite another to decide which one you are going to commit to taking.

Many years ago, I was asked to be a judge in our local beauty pageant to be the queen of our county fair.  (The winner would go on to compete for the title of Miss Indiana State Fair.)  There were several talented and attractive participants.  So much so, in fact, that I had a very difficult time selecting one to be my vote as the winner.

In other words, when presented with the choice of many terrific options, it becomes very difficult to decide which is best.  A natural response is to either delay making a choice — or, to become paralyzed by the process.

  • Second, there is something about writing out your decision that makes it more serious and binding.

Perhaps it is a throwback to our understanding about the importance of a contractual agreement — even if that agreement is only with yourself.  We seem to take it more seriously once we write it down.

Some were having trouble making the commitment to take action.  They were making all of the excuses in their minds — “I’m already too busy,” “What if I try it and it doesn’t work?” “I wonder if my boss is going to ask me about it?” and more.

Yet, without a commitment — what is ever accomplished?  You must first make a commitment to action before you can make significant progress!

This process has been a real learning experience for me — and, it can be for you, as well!

  1. Discipline yourself to make a decision.  What will you DO…starting NOW…to create distinction in your marketplace?
  2. Next — write it down and commit yourself to that action.
  3. Finally — GET STARTED!

You are on your way…….


> Read more from Scott McKain

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Scott McKain

Scott McKain

Scott McKain is an internationally known authority who helps organizations create distinction in every phase of business and teaches the “Ultimate Customer Experience.” His keynote presentations benefit from three decades of experience, combined with his innate talent for articulating successful ideas. McKain has spoken before and consulted for the world’s most influential corporations. Scott McKain creates captivating presentations and bestselling books which clearly reveal how to create more compelling connections between you and your customers and how to stand out and move up, regardless of the economic climate in your industry.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Are there any reliable statistics about the percentage of church plants that fail after 3 years in the US?
 
— Jon Moore
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Making Your First Impression a Lasting Impression

A common picture at many churches this weekend would look something like this: a couple of people – maybe even a literal couple – stand outside the church’s main entrance. Depending on the weather, they may actually be inside the doors. As people approach the door, they open it and give a brief “hello” or “good morning” or some other similar platitude. Across the lobby, at the doors to the sanctuary or auditorium or large gathering room used for worship, the scene is repeated. Only, this time, the doors are usually propped open and an usher is standing there with a stack of bulletins, giving them out as people enter.

After all, isn’t that the purpose of greeters and ushers? Don’t they have a job description that outlines what they do each weekend?

Danny Franks, Connections Pastor at Summit RDU, gives a brief and compelling argument that hospitality teams serve more than just a utilitarian purpose. While acknowledging the importance of system and process, he challenges us to look at the beauty of hospitality:

The beauty of guest services is that it serves as a signpost to the gospel. Our planning and strategizing and vision casting and volunteer recruiting may indeed reduce combustion points and increase efficiency, but that shouldn’t be the reason we do it. Guest services should ultimately point to the kindness of Jesus. Our hospitality should be a catalyst.

What about your church? Your hospitality teams, in whatever form and name you give them, are literally the first face of your church as guests engage your campus and worship environments. What kind of gospel-impression are they making?

image

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Be Your Customer’s Hero by Adam Toporek

On the front lines of customer service, every day presents new and unexpected challenges—and even the most dedicated employees can be caught unprepared. They need confidence. They need training. They need help.

Be Your Customer’s Hero answers the call. The book provides customer-facing professionals with short, simple, actionable advice designed to transform them into heroes in the eyes of the customers they serve. Quick chapters show readers how to:

  • Achieve the mindset required for Hero-Class service™
  • Understand the customer’s expectations—and exceed them
  • Develop powerful communication skills
  • Avoid the seven triggers guaranteed to set customers off
  • Handle difficult and even irrational customers with ease
  • Become an indispensable part of any frontline team

Armed with the tools and techniques in this book, readers will start each workday knowing they can conquer whatever problem comes their way. 

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

You see that guest pulling into your parking lot? What are his or her expectations? Who set them? How will you know if you met them, let alone exceeded them?

The first interaction or comment your guest encounters initiates two very valuable aspects of the rest of your guest’s experience:

  1. It creates a first impression
  2. It sets the expectation for what the guest is about to encounter.

Creating a First Impression

As a starting point, here are some points to a positive first impression:

  1. Everything matters – the more important the impression is, the greater your focus should be on everything
  2. Focus on the other – as in the other person’s needs, wants, and concerns
  3. Be your best self – making the effort and discipline to present the best of who you are to the guest in front of you

Setting the Level of Expectation

You should examine carefully and think thoroughly about the initial impression and expectation-setting ritual you follow when a guest first approaches you. Think about it: when you go in a store or a restaurant, and if you are greeted at all, does it sound genuine and sincere – or just a bored, memorized greeting with no emotion behind it?

The initial, front-line team in your Guest Experience ministry is crucial to establishing a high expectation, and then exceeding it.

When a customer walks into your world for the first time, seize the opportunity to start the relationship off well by making sure you create a great first impression. You only get one shot at it, and the payoff is well worth the effort.

What I love about first impressions is that they are an opportunity to set the tone for the rest of the experience. When a customer comes to your location for the first time or interacts with you for the first time, you have an opportunity.

On the front lines, understanding the importance of first impressions is essential to knowing how to start off customer interactions on the right foot. Customers are making up their minds about you and your organization in the briefest of moments, and these early impressions have a direct impact on their subsequent expectations.

The characteristics of first impressions can be broken down into two basic categories: environmental and interactional. Environmental characteristics are the things the customer observes as she walks through the door. When a customer enters your door, she is analyzing everything – even when she doesn’t know she’s doing it.

Interactional characteristics are the details of your first exchanges with the customer. Did you seem genuinely helpful or like someone who was just going though the motion because it was your job? Everything about you – your posture, your tone of voice, and your actions – is being evaluated by the customer in those first moments.

Adam Toporek, Be Your Customer’s Hero

A NEXT STEP

The expectations that you set for guests are obviously very powerful – as are the expectations they have of your ability to fulfill their needs and desires.

Read through the following questions and take time to answer them for yourself:

  • How do you currently understand the expectations that guests have of you? How could you do a better job of discovering what they really want?
  • Take a look at one specific interaction that you have with a guest. Develop two ideas of additional steps you could take that would enhance the connection you have with the guest in that situation.
  • Describe in as much detail as possible the first impression that you are delivering as a guest pulls into your parking lot. How could you enhance it to create an even more powerful impact upon the guest’s expectations?

Next, in a team meeting with the leaders of your hospitality teams, write the questions above on three separate pages of a chart tablet and display them. Go through each question with the leaders, noting their answers.

After you have completed all three, compare and discuss your individual answers with those of the team. Reconcile any differences, and outline the steps needed to make sure your first impression is consistent across all your hospitality teams – both in practice each weekend and in training new team members as they come on board.


Taken from SUMS Remix 42-2, published August 2016

 


This is part of a weekly series posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders. SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; and each solution is taken from a different book. As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

Subscribe to SUMS Remix <<

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Are there any reliable statistics about the percentage of church plants that fail after 3 years in the US?
 
— Jon Moore
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Stop Confusing Your First Time Guests

One of the reasons people are hesitant to try attending a church for the first time is that they’re not sure what to expect. In fact, they probably expect it to be a little bit awkward and uncomfortable.

Over time, it’s important for your church to become known as a place where people will be able to understand what’s happening. That doesn’t mean changing the message, but it does mean clearly explaining what is going on during the worship service.

If you use words like “prelude” or “convocation” without explanation, you’ll send the message that the service is intended for insiders and those who already understand what’s happening.

Here are a few suggestions for how to make people more comfortable in a church worship service that might be brand new to them.

1. Use easy-to-understand terminology.

Instead of “Invocation,” call it an “Opening Prayer.” Or better yet, don’t call it anything. Just have the prayer. No one really needs to know that a “Prelude” will be happening. Just play the music.

If you have a traditional altar call, or even an invitation for people to go somewhere for prayer, be very clear and specific in how you invite people to respond.

I’ve always said at Saddleback that we have The Living Bible version of the order of service. We’re more interested in making it clear for the unchurched than impressing the folks who know what liturgical terms mean.

2. Provide explanatory notes.

When you go to an opera or play that’s difficult to understand, they provide you with program notes. Tell people why you do what you’re doing in the service. If you hand guests a printed bulletin, it should include a simple explanation of the welcome / commitment card, the offering, the response time, etc.

Something like,

Please fill out one of the welcome cards from the chair rack in front of you and drop it in one of the boxes located at the door where you exit after the service . . .

or,

The offering time is an opportunity for members and regular attenders to invest in the ministry and mission of the church. We don’t expect guests to give.

Those kinds of notes can go a long way to putting people at ease.

3. Eliminate most announcements, and get creative with the few you make.

The best way to recruit people to volunteer, or attend an event, or support a cause, isn’t through an announcement from the stage. It’s best handled through relationships or personalized communication – email, social media, texts, etc.

The few announcements that are made should pertain to the whole body present, not a specific group within the church. And they can be delivered in creative ways. We often have two people on video, making announcements in a lively, news-like fashion.

4. Train members to be greeters and helpers.

Greeting people outside, in the parking lot, is a great start. But it’s also very important to have people insidethe auditorium and classrooms to make people feel welcome once they walk in.

While some people may be part of your official greeting team, you can train all of your regular attenders to be mindful of those who seem new or unfamiliar with their surroundings. Talk about this in your membership class so that everyone who joins understands that they’re informally part of the greeting team.

It really boils down to being sensitive to the apprehension people might feel walking onto a church campus with which they’re unfamiliar, meeting people they don’t know, and participating in a service that might be a brand-new experience for them.

> Read more from Rick.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Are there any reliable statistics about the percentage of church plants that fail after 3 years in the US?
 
— Jon Moore
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

The Alignment Factor. Creating a Great Guest Culture

Editors Note: During our August focus on Guest Experiences, we are honored to have some of the best voices in the world of Customer Experience provide guest posts for the Vision Room. As you read the content below, simply think “Guest” where you see the word “customer” – and you will benefit from the knowledge and expertise of some great minds.


One of the most important ways to improve customer service is to make sure that everyone in an organization is in alignment with the customer service and/or experience vision. While the concept is just one word, there are several steps to achieving alignment.

The first step is to define that vision in simple and memorable terms. So, if you’ve been following my work, go back a few weeks to the concept of creating your customer service mantra, which is my fancy word to describe a customer service vision statement. Before you can get everyone into alignment, you must give them something to align with. I like a vision statement or mantra that is short and to the point. So, if you don’t already have a vision for everyone to align to, you’re going to need one.

Assuming you have the customer service vision statement – or mantra, as I like to call it – the next step is to prove how everyone in the organization impacts that vision. And, I mean everyone!  Start with your basic customer journey map that shows all of the typical interactions – or touchpoints – that the customer has when doing business with you. And you may need more than one map.  A customer’s sales journey is different than a service or support journey. The interactions a customer has on your company’s website will be different than over the phone or in person.

There is a second part of the journey map exercise, to show underneath each touchpoint how different departments and roles within those departments impact those touchpoints. If done correctly, you will eventually be able to show how each and every department – in other words, everyone – impacts the customer’s experience.

I know I’m sounding redundant, but if you haven’t already done the crucial steps of creating a vision and journey map – and I’m surprised at the number of organizations who haven’t yet done so – you have extra work to do before you can think about getting your employees into alignment.

And, now it’s time to get everyone into alignment. By getting everyone to know and understand your customer service vision, and showing on a journey map how everyone, even as individuals, impact the customer’s experience, you can begin to train everyone to your vision. This is simple in concept, but not always easy to do. You must have an effective communication strategy. It can start with an announcement. It must be articulated as not just a vision, but also an expectation that everyone must keep in mind, regardless of their role and responsibility in the organization.

And just announcing and communicating it is not enough. Each and every employee must be properly trained. It must constantly be reinforced. It must be obvious and almost overt. For employees to be in alignment, they must know it, understand it, and be able to execute it.

Customer service isn’t just for the customer service department or the front line. It’s everyone’s job. So, if there is one thing that will make a difference in your customer service, it is to get everyone in the organization in alignment with your customer service mantra.

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker and New York Times bestselling business author. For information contact or www.hyken.com. For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs go to www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shep Hyken

Shep Hyken

Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE is a customer service expert, hall-of-fame speaker and New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. He works with organizations to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. He is also the creator of The Customer Focus, a customer service training program that helps organizations develop a customer service culture and loyalty mindset. For more information contact (314) 692-2200 or www.Hyken.com.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Are there any reliable statistics about the percentage of church plants that fail after 3 years in the US?
 
— Jon Moore
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Excellent & Efficient: What the Church Can Learn from Chick-Fil-A

My oldest son and his wife recently gave birth to our fourth grandchild. On our way to the hospital, while his wife was still in labor, our son asked us to pick up some breakfast. The only place by the hospital was a McDonald’s.

We went through the drive-thru and couldn’t help but notice the trash in the parking lot and the beat-up feel to the entire locale. When we reached the menu/order station, we were greeted with a monotone, bored voice, “Can I take your order.”

It wasn’t even a question. Just a statement.

When we pulled around to the first window to pay, the woman never made eye contact with us; she just took our card and handed it back with the receipt.

I said, “Thank you.”

She never even replied. She just closed the window.

We pulled to the next window, got our order, and at least this time we were met with a brief, “Thank you.”

Later that same week, we went to Chick-fil-A. We always like going there because they have good food, it’s clean and bathed in a Christian ethos with impeccable customer service.

The difference between Chick-fil-A and our McDonald’s experience could not have been starker. The drive-thru line was served by energetic and pleasant young people with mobile devices able to take our order and payment to speed up the process. We were greeted with eye contact, smiles, “How can I serve you?” and, if you know Chick-fil-A well, lots of “My pleasure!” in response to any and all requests. I was told to have a great day. I was asked if there was anything else I needed. I was told how much I was appreciated.

I remember turning to my wife, even though we’ve been to Chick-fil-A a thousand times, to say: “It just doesn’t take that much to have good customer service. Why don’t other places do it like Chick-fil-A? It’s just not that hard to be nice and courteous and friendly.”

Chick-fil-A costs more than McDonald’s. The lines are sometimes longer (because it’s popular). They only serve chicken.

But I don’t care.

One “My pleasure!” is worth a thousand burgers.

What does this have to do with the church?

A member of our staff was serving this past weekend at one of our newer campuses and sent me an email following the experience. She was teaching a class there through the Meck Institute titled “Find Your Fit.” She met a woman who, through the class, decided she wanted to join our Guest Services Team.

Why?

Here’s the rest of her email:

“She said that’s what drew her to Meck because they made her feel so at home. Her kids noticed it too. A friend of hers asked her middle school daughter, I believe it was, why she likes going to Meck so much.

“She said, ‘Everyone is so nice and so welcoming. Let me put it this way. It’s the difference between the customer service at McDonald’s and Chick-Fil-A.’ I thought that was such a sweet (and creative) compliment to our Guest Services Team.”

I did too.

> Read more from James Emery White.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

James Emery White

James Emery White

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. He is the founder of Serious Times and this blog was originally posted at his website www.churchandculture.org.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Are there any reliable statistics about the percentage of church plants that fail after 3 years in the US?
 
— Jon Moore
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Does Your Church Expect Guests, or Just Accommodate Visitors?

When it comes to churches, more often than not we accommodate visitors rather than truly expect Guests.

It may be a little thing to you, seeming like mere wordplay, but there is actually a powerful first impression that needs to change if your approach is to accommodate visitors on Sunday rather than to expect to have Guests at your church.

Do you have Visitor parking? Visitor packets? A Visitor’s Center? Do you welcome your visitors during the worship experience? And on and on…

The first step in creating a memorable Guest experience is to remove the word “visitor” from your vocabulary, never to be used again. Think about it, what kind of person is a visitor at your house, as opposed to a Guest?

It’s a small thing to be sure. But often changing one small word in your church’s vernacular can reflect a substantial mental shift, impacting the entire experience of someone new. One word change can draw someone back the next weekend, and one word can begin to close the proverbial back door of your church.

What would it look like to expect Guests this Sunday?

Guests come to your church, looking for a warm greeting, a smiling face, and an experience carefully crafted to welcome them and point them to Christ. This type of expectation does not require anything phony, manipulative, or in-your-face; just leaders who will welcome them as Guests with the most sincere, energizing, and loving experiences they can.

When it comes to understanding and welcoming Guests, the Disney organization has long been the “gold standard” – the best of the best. Instilled by Walt Disney in 1955 at the opening of Disneyland, expanded over the decades since at locations around the world, and refined today as both an art and a science, the Disney approach to Guest experiences provides a wealth of information that can help your church not just “accommodate visitors,” but to expect Guests.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Be Our Guest, by the Disney Institute

Exceeding expectations rather than simply satisfying them is the cornerstone of the Disney approach to customer service. Be Our Guest outlines proven Disney best practices and processes for generating customer loyalty. One visit to a Disney park reveals that their Guest Experience extends beyond the front gates, and into the heart and mind of every employee at every level.

Be Our Guest takes you behind the scenes to help you learn new and creative ways to create and deliver a world-class Guest Experience.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

“Be Our Guest” has been the invitation the Disney organization extends to people long before the song from Beauty and the Beast became a box office hit. It underscores an important element in the Disney vocabulary that customers are not referred to as customers or visitors, but rather as Guests. In the Disney nomenclature, the word “Guest” is capitalized and treated as a formal noun. It takes little effort to extend this line of thinking to your church:

What’s the difference between treating someone like a visitor, and treating someone like a Guest?

The obvious analogy is that we do things differently when we bring Guests into our home. We clean up the house. We dress up. We prepare something special to eat. We host them. We take care of their real needs. We even open the front door for them – every time.

Does your church expect Guests, or just accommodate visitors? How does Guest expectation extend beyond the front doors on a Sunday morning, but even into the office suite on a Thursday afternoon?

Realizing that God is bringing Guests to your church has to be the starting point, the foundation on which all else is built. Exceeding Guest expectations is the standard call to duty for every leader at every level and on every day.

At Disney, every leader at every level and on every day is a part of the Guest Services Team.

Exceeding Guest’s expectations is Disney’s service strategy, and paying attention to every detail is the tactic by which it is accomplished.

Disney’s Quality Service Compass encapsulates the organization-wide model that demonstrates Quality Service. It is the production process through which practical magic is created. In its essence, the compass can be used to create a shared vision of service that aligns the major elements that every organization shares – its people, infrastructure, and processes – in a cohesive, comprehensive effort to deliver that vision.

The Quality Service Compass has four main points centered on our service objective: to exceed Guest expectations.

Guestology – the art and science of knowing customers.

Quality Standards – establishing the criteria for actions necessary to accomplish the service strategy, and the measures of Service Quality.

Delivery Systems – the systems that deliver service: employees, the setting, and processes.

Integration – combining and aligning delivery systems, creating a matrix to troubleshoot problems and benchmark practices.

– Disney Institute, Be Our Guest

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

At your next leadership team meeting, review the four points of Disney’s Quality Service Compass outlined above. Using the introductory questions suggested below, ask, “What is working within our Welcoming Teams?” “What is missing or confused?”

Guestology: Understand your Guest Profile

  • Do you know who your Guests are? Do you collect basic demographic information from Guests? What does a study of the last 12 months of this information reveal about your Guests?
  • Do you collect additional information about your Guests (through a website survey, etc.? Do you know about their attitudes, lifestyles, values, and opinions? What does a study of the last 12 months of this type of information reveal about your Guests?

Integration: Extend your mission to the Guest Services teams

  • How can you extend your church’s mission so that your Guest Services teams understand how their role is in alignment?
  • How is your mission seen through your Guest Services teams by the Guests they serve?

Standards: Define Guest Service

  • Do you have service quality standards that ensure the consistent delivery of Guest services?
  • Do your Guest Services standards reflect the values of your church?
  • Do your Guest Service teams use the standards as filters through which they prioritize the actions that contribute to a memorable Guest Experience?

Delivery: Establish systems that welcome Guests

  • Your Guest Service Team Members are the first and most important part of your Guest Service delivery system. They are the heart and soul of your Guest Experience. How do you select, train and evaluate your team members? What steps have you taken to create and maintain
a culture of hospitality that nurtures your team members and encourages them to deliver a memorable Guest Experience?
  • How does your Environment (the physical and virtual resources of your organization) contribute to the delivery of a memorable Guest Experience? Do you regularly evaluate your setting?
  • Do you have a Process (the various series of operations used to deliver a memorable Guest Experience) that your Guest Service Teams understand and follow? Is this process regularly evaluated and improved as needed?

Finally, lead everyone in the meeting to identify one next step to take in THEIR ministry area or leadership to welcome Guests.


Taken from SUMS Remix 20-1, published August 2015


This is part of a weekly series posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders. SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; and each solution is taken from a different book. As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

Subscribe to SUMS Remix <<

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Are there any reliable statistics about the percentage of church plants that fail after 3 years in the US?
 
— Jon Moore
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Getting Ready for Fall: 7 Steps to Success

Yes, it’s currently blazing hot in most parts of the country. But fall will be here before we know it, and with cooler weather comes an attendance surge for most churches. Families are returning from vacation, people are getting back into routines, and church parking lots and pews are fuller than they were during summer. At our church, we typically see a 30-35% attendance bump from the end of July to mid-August (there was one year that it hit 52%!).

So how can you take advantage of the next few weeks in order to be prepared for the influx of guests? Here are seven ways:

Refresh your volunteer training. 

Go back to the basics with your current vols. Remind them why your team exists. Whether you’re meeting with them in person or sending out text / email updates, spend a few minutes over the next few weekends helping them get their heads back in the game. [Related post: Need an Inexpensive Option for Team Training?]

 

Invite new people to serve. 

New guests mean new opportunities for your members to step up their game. Invite all of your current vols to shoulder-tap their friends. If your attendance numbers bump by 1/3 like ours, make it a personal goal to bump your volunteer numbers by the same. [Related post: 20 Ways to Get More Volunteers]

 

Review your systems. 

Sure, you remember last Easter or fall when a lot of people showed up and you had to seat them in the lobby or park them at the business down the street. But now, how will you prepare based on what you know? Now is the time to pull out the playbook and talk to your team about what will happen when (not if) additional space is required (and please, let’s not call it overflow. That’s what toilets do.) [Related post:10 Ways to Make Your Seating Team More Effective]

 

Practice your language.

How will you greet your guests when they arrive? Sure, you may cover this with your volunteers…but what about the people on stage? How will your worship leader encourage people to scoot in once worship has already started? How will your lead pastor greet the throngs, acknowledge the bump, and invite them back? How will your announcement guy give practical next steps? [Related post: Six Times to Talk to Your Guests]

 

Check your supplies. 

Do you have enough first time guest gifts? Worship guides? Information cards? Communion cups? Now is the time to order them. [Related post: First Time Guest Bags: An Intro]

 

Clean it up.

Don’t neglect your facility or your parking lot. Take a minute to walk around this week and spot what needs to be fixed or freshened up: remove those VBS posters. Weed that flower bed. Windex that lobby door. [Related post: Pick Up Your Junk]

 

Pray. 

This isn’t the last resort, but the first. If we believe for a moment that the guest experience rises and falls on a clean facility and well-trained volunteers, we deceive ourselves. No, we must pray for the Holy Spirit to compel people to come, to open their eyes to the gospel, and to woo them into a relationship with Jesus. [Related post: Is Your Guest Service Team in a State of Desperation?]

> Read more from Danny.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Danny Franks

Danny Franks

Danny Franks makes his living as a Connections Pastor at the Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. He also makes a life as the husband of an out-of-his-league hottie and the dad of three cool sons and one sweet princess. His blog, dfranks.com, is a reflection of how he interacts with all of these.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Are there any reliable statistics about the percentage of church plants that fail after 3 years in the US?
 
— Jon Moore
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Welcoming the Unchurched to Church

I recently read an article from a professional “mystery worshiper” who works with churches to help evaluate and improve their friendliness and guest relations.

It was a good and helpful article. I found myself nodding in agreement with almost all of it.

Almost.

Not every guest who ventures to visit your church is created equal. On the broadest level, there are churched guests and unchurched guests. By churched, I mean they have a church background, are relatively comfortable and familiar with church world, and are there as a consumer. The unchurched do not have a church background, are not comfortable or familiar with church world, and are there (at best) as an explorer.

What difference does this make?

Quite a bit.

Consider one of the most commonly suggested steps to making a first-time guest feel welcome: designated parking. I’ve seen this done in many ways, such as signs that direct first-time guests to turn on their headlights (and based on that, they are guided toward special parking), or signage that simply directs first-time guests toward a designated parking area.

The parking is clearly marked for “Guests” or “VIPs”. Beyond being close to the church, those parking there are often met by volunteers who greet them, offer first-time guest materials, and even escort them into the church and through any children’s ministry registration needs they might have.

It sounds impressive.

In practice it looks impressive.

But who wants this kind of treatment?

Only the churched.

Churched people want to be welcomed, recognized, get questions answered, meet staff and, yes, park in designated guest parking.

The typical first-time unchurched guest wants anything BUT recognition. They don’t want to be singled out. They don’t want to be targeted. We used to joke that they didn’t want to “say anything, sing anything, sign anything, give anything or do anything.” We find that many first-time guests do not even want to take advantage of putting their child in children’s ministry.

At least, not at first.

It’s the same with special tabs on websites for “planning your visit”, which can include preregistering your child for children’s ministry, being escorted around by a volunteer, and more.

Again, that’s good.

But for churched people.

(I couldn’t help but smile at one church’s “planning a visit” page that also housed their online giving portal. Forget “churched” or “unchurched” – I’m not sure they understood the idea of “guest.”)

So design your guest experience any way you want. Just remember to put yourself in your guest’s shoes.

And know which guest that is.


 

> Read more from James.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

James Emery White

James Emery White

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. He is the founder of Serious Times and this blog was originally posted at his website www.churchandculture.org.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Are there any reliable statistics about the percentage of church plants that fail after 3 years in the US?
 
— Jon Moore
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.