This Matters to Every Guest You See

There are a lot of reasons a church might grow. Sometimes people come because of the preaching. Sometimes people come because of the music. Some people like the great programs for kids and youth.

But I’m convinced that amid all of our emphasis in the last few decades on building weekend services that are more attractive to outsiders, there’s an often overlooked factor in church growth . . .

Growing churches are friendly to guests.

All churches think they’re friendly, but when you take a good look at them, you often discover they’re friendly to people who have been attending for 15 years or more—not to new people.

A guest’s experience in the first 12 minutes dramatically influences whether they’re coming back or not. You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

When non-Christians come to your church for the first time, their number one emotion is fear. What will people think? What are they going to do? Am I going to have to sign something, sing something, sacrifice something, or say something?

They don’t know what’s going on, and they’re scared to death.

Your first goal with guests (and by the way, I never call them visitors) is to get them to relax. Then you can communicate with them. When people are afraid, their barriers are up and it becomes a case of, “I dare you to teach me something!” No matter how good your sermon is, they won’t listen to the Good News about Jesus until they get past those fears.

You need to put guests at ease.

How do you do that? Here are some ideas:

  • Reserve your best parking spots for guests. It just shows you’re thinking about them. If you had guests for dinner at your house, you’d probably do whatever it took to make them feel more comfortable. You’d use your best silverware and your best dishes. You might ask them about food preferences before you plan the meal. You should show similar courtesies to guests at your church.
  • Station greeters outside your building. You need people strategically placed around your campus to greet guests. At Saddleback, we used to play a game. I would dare people to get into the building without having their hand shaken at least three times. We place greeters way out in the parking lot. Why? We’ve found that some people hate to be greeted publicly during the service, but they love to be greeted personally.
  • Set up an information table. Put all sorts of information on the table that might help people find their way around. Put maps out with classrooms and restrooms easily marked. Put out brochures about the church that give people information they can take home and read at their convenience. Most importantly, have hosts stationed there to help people find their way around. Make sure your hosts know where the restrooms are and where the children should go!
  • Have music playing when people enter. In America almost every public building has music playing. Even in the elevator, music is playing. You go into the restroom and music is playing. You go into a restaurant and music is playing. People expect to hear music. If you walked into a church right now and everyone was dead silent, you’d probably be uncomfortable. On the other hand, if you heard fairly loud praise music playing, you’d probably feel much more comfortable. Here’s something interesting I’ve found: If you play soft music, people talk softly. But if you play loud music, people talk louder. When non-Christians come into your church, they want it to be noisy.
  • Allow guests to remain anonymous in the service. Please don’t make guests stand up. The three greatest fears people have are going to a party with strangers, having to speak before a crowd, and being asked personal questions in public. So when we ask our guests to tell us their name and where they are from in front of everyone, we subject them to all three of their greatest fears at one time. Bad idea. How do you identify guests if you don’t have them stand up? Have them fill out a welcome card. Then someone from the church can connect with them later.
  • Offer a warm, casual public welcome that relaxes people. If you want to make guests feel welcome, you’ve got to be at ease yourself. That’s what most people expect—just watch the late-night TV shows. Like it or not, how the pastor and the worship leader interact with each other sets the tone for good or for bad in a service.
  • Use technology to break down the barrier. Have an app or web-based connection card. Allow people to send a text to a short number to get more information. Ask people to check in on Facebook. And help people know where to go online for more information if they skip the information desk (because most of them will).

In the early years at Saddleback we used to say, “If this is your first time at Saddleback, we’re glad you’re here. We want you take a deep breath, sit back, relax, and enjoy the service.” You know where I got that? I heard someone say it on an airline once! Sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight. All we’re trying to do is help people relax and then make them feel comfortable.

You have to break down the fear barriers before people will ever open up to your message and consider coming back to your church. Try these guest-friendly tips in the coming weeks, and help your church grow this year.

> Read more from Rick.


 

Learn more about your how you can become a friendlier church – start a conversation with Guest Experience Navigator Bob Adams.

 

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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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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I have found out more. I guess it's all about backing? ReNew doesn't have that. We are a mission church, in a small downtown area. We are a wonderful church though. I guess we also needed everyone to attend and possibly be of service all the time. If I could have it all over to again, I'd participate more, open my mouth more,....IDK, I still am holding onto God's intervention somehow. We have until Sept. 30th.
 
— Linda Speaks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> We are experiencing our church closing at the end of the month. We are all heart broken and agree that this is the best church family we've ever had. I personally can say I am not used to my attendance weekly being so important. I have never been to a start up church. We needed 3 things, an associate pastor, everyone's involvement and money. I cannot believe that the best church for so many people is closing. Being g a forever optimist, I can't help but think God will intervene somehow.
 
— Linda
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree with your 3 must-haves. I would add that the rectors have to call on every member who attends, at least once a year. The existence of a "calling commitee" is just an excuse to avoid making the effort. This is part of #3. If a rector does not like to call on parishioners, then she/he should not be a rector, but should find a different ministry. Carter Kerns, former senior warden, Diocese of Eastern Oregon and lifelong Episcopalian Tel# 541-379-3124
 
— Carter Kerns
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

The Timeless Call of Guest Engagement

Epiphany at the Gas Pump

In a recent conversation with a friend, I was asked the question, “Where does your passion for Guest Experiences come from?”

Regular readers of this website know of my borderline fanaticism in the area of Guest Experiences related to ChurchWorld, and how much we can learn from the world of “Customer Experience.” Some leaders cringe at those words, but the fact is people who come to church are consumers, and leaders in ChurchWorld can learn a lot from good customer experience practices wherever they find them – even in a 1946 training manual for Gulf Dealers.

The answer to my friend’s question became a little clearer several years ago.

My father.

After my father was discharged from the Army Air Corps following WWII, he worked at several jobs before he and his brother built a Gulf Service Station outside of Nashville TN. My father operated it for 44 years, closing it when he retired in 1993. Growing up in that gas station (literally – our house was about 100 feet away) I learned a lot about how to deal with people by watching my father interact with his “customers.” What I didn’t realize until recently was that his natural, easygoing style was augmented by customer service training materials supplied by the Gulf Oil Company.

It seems that good customer experience is never out of date.

My father passed away in 2012, and changes in my mother’s health required that she move out of the house in which she and my father had started their family in 1954. As my brother and I were going through the process of moving her from her home of 61 years, I took great delight in looking through some of the items my dad had saved and stored over his life. When I found the manual pictured below, I knew it would become a special part of my Guest Experience resources.

Notice the orange dotted line around the vehicle – that’s the suggested travel path for the service man – or two – to take when a customer pulled up to the gas pumps to have gasoline put into his tank (I realize many readers have no clue nor experience of this, but it did happen!). Starting by engaging the driver, here are a few of the suggestions for engaging the customer:

  • Always be prompt – the service plan starts when you see a customer driving into your station. Whenever possible, be alert and at his side when his car stops, ready to greet him.
  • Greet the customer – your greeting is your first important step in showing courtesy to the customer, and it should be friendly, cheerful, and always in your own words.
  • Acknowledge the other customer – when a second car drives in, you should immediately recognize the other customer and saying you’ll be right with him. This kind of greeting pays off because you not only please the customer who is waiting but you also please the customer you are waiting on, who notices that you are courteous to others.
  • Improve the rear view – while you are at the rear of the vehicle putting gas in, wipe the rear window and tail lights. Should a light be out, call it to the attention to your customer at the proper time.
  • Look at those tires – while you are back there, take a look at both rear tires for cuts, blisters under inflation, etc. and make a mental note to tell your customer before he leaves your station.
  • Work to the front end – walk around the right side, cleaning the right windshield, checking the wiper blades, and inspecting the front tires.
  • Under the hood – check the oil and water levels; it’s your responsibility to protect your customer’s car. If any is needed, ask him if you may bring the levels up to the correct level.
  • Keep alert under the hood – while you have the hood open, keep alert for other service needs. Train yourself to quickly observe all needs, informing the customer as appropriate.
  • Collect for the sale – it is important to give the customer the right change, so count the change back into his hand. If he is using a credit card (yes, they had those in 1946!), learn to fill out the invoice quickly and accurately.
  • Courtesy is pleasant – before your customer leaves the station thank him and ask him to come in again. By this time you should have learned his name, so make it personal.
  • Help him safely on his way – if your station is on a busy street where it’s difficult to get into traffic, give your customer a hand. Guide him into the moving traffic safely. He may not expect this added courtesy, but he’ll be glad to get it and remember it. Every courteous act will be appreciated by your customers, and make them regular patrons of your station.

And a closing reminder:

With the Gulf Service Plan, every time you do some little service for the customer, it makes him realize that you know your business, and that you’re looking after his welfare. These services keep your customer coming back again and again. Good will – the tendency of the motorist to return to a place where he has been well-treated – is being created every time you give him not only what he wants, but what he needs. He remembers you are the man who looks after his best interests by taking good care of one of his most prized possessions – his car.

To all of us who live in a 24/7, always-connected world, the actions above probably seem like a throwback or an anachronism of the good old days.

I happen to think they are a timeless reminder that experience still matters – especially in ChurchWorld, where there is no “product” per se, but the outcome of the interactions with our Guests may be eternal.

Thanks Dad, for the lessons you taught me even when I didn’t realize it, and for the lessons you still teach me after you’re gone.

> Read more from Bob.


 

Learn more about your engaging your Guests – start a conversation with Guest Experience Navigator Bob Adams.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bob Adams

Bob Adams

Bob is an absolute fanatic about Guest Experiences, growing up watching his father serve customers at the gas station he built and operated for 44 years. Bob is continually connecting with corporate leaders in the customer experience world, learning and then translating practices for ChurchWorld. He writes, speaks, and consults on the topic frequently. Vocationally, Bob has a dual role at Auxano, a clarity first consulting firm serving the church. As Vision Room Curator and Digital Engagement Leader he researches, edits, writes and publishes online content. As Guest Experience Navigator, he leverages his passion, providing Guest Perspective Evaluations and Guest Experience Blueprints. Bob and his wife Anita have been married for 38 years. They have 4 children, 2 daughters-in-law, 1 son-in-law, and 4 grandchildren.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I have found out more. I guess it's all about backing? ReNew doesn't have that. We are a mission church, in a small downtown area. We are a wonderful church though. I guess we also needed everyone to attend and possibly be of service all the time. If I could have it all over to again, I'd participate more, open my mouth more,....IDK, I still am holding onto God's intervention somehow. We have until Sept. 30th.
 
— Linda Speaks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> We are experiencing our church closing at the end of the month. We are all heart broken and agree that this is the best church family we've ever had. I personally can say I am not used to my attendance weekly being so important. I have never been to a start up church. We needed 3 things, an associate pastor, everyone's involvement and money. I cannot believe that the best church for so many people is closing. Being g a forever optimist, I can't help but think God will intervene somehow.
 
— Linda
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree with your 3 must-haves. I would add that the rectors have to call on every member who attends, at least once a year. The existence of a "calling commitee" is just an excuse to avoid making the effort. This is part of #3. If a rector does not like to call on parishioners, then she/he should not be a rector, but should find a different ministry. Carter Kerns, former senior warden, Diocese of Eastern Oregon and lifelong Episcopalian Tel# 541-379-3124
 
— Carter Kerns
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

This Concept is Tanking Your Guest Experience

I was in a well-known retail store recently and overheard a customer say to her friend, “I am not coming back in this store again. It is always cookie cutter service…the same ‘how may I help you,’ the same, ‘credit or debit,’ and the same boring ‘thank you for shopping at Acme’ spoken with the enthusiasm of a blooming rock!”

Her friend agreed. I heard them talking about going online as they exited the large store.

Cookie cutters make every cookie the same size. But, it is the wrong metaphor. Rubber stamps make more sense. A cookie cutter never changes its shape, but a rubber stamp sooner or later runs out of ink; its lack of relevance and usefulness become its demise. These ladies were not fussing about bad service; their disdain was for indifferent, ‘no light on inside’ kind of service. They were lamenting customer service that had run out of ink.

We live in an era of sparkly. Customers everywhere are highly stimulated and occasionally entertained by their service experiences. It changes their expectations and ramps up their standards. Today’s fad can quickly become tomorrow’s antique.

When soldiers from American farms went off to fight in World War I, they fought in places like Paris, Brussels and London. Their wide-eyed, golly gee whiz impressions spawned the popular song, “How ya gonna keep ’em down on the farm after they’ve seen Paree.”

The message is the same today for your customers. How you gonna get ‘em shopping in the store, after they’ve seen Chick-fil-A and Walt Disney World and Amazon and… Never let the ink run dry in the spirit of your enterprise.

Because once you bore them out the door, you may never get them back.

> Read more from Chip.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chip Bell

Chip Bell

Chip R. Bell is the author of several best-selling books including his newest: Sprinkles: Creating Awesome Experiences Through Innovative Service. He can be reached at www.chipbell.com.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I have found out more. I guess it's all about backing? ReNew doesn't have that. We are a mission church, in a small downtown area. We are a wonderful church though. I guess we also needed everyone to attend and possibly be of service all the time. If I could have it all over to again, I'd participate more, open my mouth more,....IDK, I still am holding onto God's intervention somehow. We have until Sept. 30th.
 
— Linda Speaks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> We are experiencing our church closing at the end of the month. We are all heart broken and agree that this is the best church family we've ever had. I personally can say I am not used to my attendance weekly being so important. I have never been to a start up church. We needed 3 things, an associate pastor, everyone's involvement and money. I cannot believe that the best church for so many people is closing. Being g a forever optimist, I can't help but think God will intervene somehow.
 
— Linda
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree with your 3 must-haves. I would add that the rectors have to call on every member who attends, at least once a year. The existence of a "calling commitee" is just an excuse to avoid making the effort. This is part of #3. If a rector does not like to call on parishioners, then she/he should not be a rector, but should find a different ministry. Carter Kerns, former senior warden, Diocese of Eastern Oregon and lifelong Episcopalian Tel# 541-379-3124
 
— Carter Kerns
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

The Exceptional Guest Experience, Part 2: PROCESS

At Auxano, we’ve walked with more than 500 churches through a process called the Guest Perspective Evaluation. And when they’re done, they all ask, “What’s next?”

Amazingly, most church leaders don’t actually have a plan they can use to improve their Guest Experience!

Ask them about their strategy and you’ll discover it boils down to this:

We’ll be friendlier.

It’s understandable. Church leaders are too busy on the weekend to actually understand what Guests see – and experience – to really know how to make things better. After all, your church is “friendly,” right? And that is all you need to have a good Guest Experience.

But why settle for good?

An exceptional Guest Experience ministry doesn’t have to be complicated. We recommend you execute on just three things:

  1. Place
  2. Process
  3. People

Focusing on these three things will allow you to welcome first time Guests, welcome back returning Guests, and create a culture of hospitality within your church that extends your ministry beyond your walls.

The catch?

Each of these three elements shares one requirement: paying attention to details.

It’s impossible to have an exceptional Guest Experience unless you pay attention to details.

The PROCESS you use to welcome Guests

THE QUICK SUMMARYDisney U, by Doug Lipp

In helping Walt Disney create “The Happiest Place on Earth,” Van France and his team started a business revolution in 1955 that eventually became the Disney University—the employee training and development program that powers one of the most famous brands on earth.

Disney U examines how Van France’s timeless company values and leadership expertise have turned into a training and development dynasty: the Disney U. The book reveals the heart of the Disney Culture and describes the company’s values and operational philosophies that support the world-famous Disney brand.

Doug Lipp is an internationally acclaimed expert on customer service, leadership, change management and global competitiveness, specializing in the lessons he learned at the Disney U.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Walt Disney knew that the key to delivering a great experience in a living movie setting like Disneyland meant designing defect-free processes and flawlessly repeating them. However, the setting of Disneyland itself – having different “lands” requiring different sets of operations, maintenance, cast members, and a myriad of other details – became complicated very quickly.

The same thing happens at your church: the enemy of your Guest Experience is complexity.

Walt Disney was able to work out a solution, and that solution can be instructive for your church, too.

Providing the Happiest Place on Earth means that cast members must manage a delicate balance of priorities; without clarity, the task becomes overwhelming.

As Disneyland exploded onto the scene in 1955, Disney Guest Experience pioneers Van France and Dick Nunis recognized the challenge. In response, they simplified the inherently complex environment of a theme park by providing every cast member with crystal-clear marching orders during his or her Disney University orientation.

Dick Nunis came up with a program which, at the time, was a totally new concept for operations. The four elements of theme park operations were listed in order of their importance.

Van France

Simple service standards can be powerful tools in any organization.

What happens when a child at a Disney Park drops a Mickey ice cream bar?

  • Is it tough luck for the unhappy child?
  • What about the sticky mess on the busy sidewalk?
  • How would you handle a tired, irate parent?
  • What’s the impact on the bottom line?

There’s not an easy answer for the situation above – or for the tens of thousands of other daily occurrences that happen in a Disney theme park. But somehow most front-line Cast Members manage to take care of situations quickly in ways that keep the Guests happy.

How do you train cast members to handle whatever may come up in a normal – or not so normal – day in the park?

 

The recipe for creating and repeating the magical environment at Disneyland involved boiling down park operations into four priorities that represent the values driving every decision made by front-line Cast Members.

At the time, these four priorities, known as “the Four Keys,” were a totally new concept for operating a complex organization like a theme park. Listed in order of importance, they are:

  • Safety – The most important priority for Guests and cast members. Cast members must often protect Guests from themselves! Guests distracted by the beautiful architecture may walk into lampposts and walls. Every operations and design decision must first address safety.
  • Courtesy – The second most important priority after safety is courtesy. Cast members know the value of the smiles on their faces and in their voices and the importance of engaging Guests. A lack of cast member courtesy will poison the safest and most interesting environment.
  • Show – Once safety and courtesy are assured, attention turns to show. Well-maintained attractions and facilities populated by well-groomed cast members ensure good show, a condition Walt Disney passionately promoted.
  • Efficiency – This last priority refers to the number of Guests enjoying the attractions, restaurants, and retail shops. This is the “hard numbers” portion of a business. By placing numbers last, the SCSE model makes a clear, somewhat paradoxical statement: accomplishing the first three priorities ensures that this fourth one is sustainable in the form of happy and loyal cast members and Guests.

Disney’s Four Keys serve as a compass for creating happiness and serving others. More than five decades after they were created, these Four Keys continue to serve as the foundation for everything Disney does. Any organization would be envious to have several key standards stand that test of time. It is at the heart of what has made Disney the powerful name it is today.

Doug Lipp, Disney U

A NEXT STEP

Simple service standards can be powerful tools in any organization. By establishing a framework of values from which every team member operates, they have a sense of ownership and purpose. The use of standards creates a consistent image across the entire organization.

At a future team meeting, reproduce this SUMS Remix, and ask your team to read this entire section. As a team, discuss the following questions,

Simplify the Complex

  • How are complex operations and processes communicated in your organization?
  • Are priorities succinct and memorable?
  • How are complex and vital procedures and priorities communicated in your organization?

It’s All about the Basics

  • How do you help team members understand standard operating procedures and priorities?
  • Are team members actively involved as change agents, or do they wait for direction?
  • Are policies followed? If not, why not?

Great Trainers Transfer Knowledge

  • How does your training staff leverage experience from one area to another?
  • What do you do to encourage interactions with Guests and attendees?

Making Your Standard Manageable

  • What is your organization’s equivalent of the Four Keys?
  • Can your team member manual be simplified?
  • What are your priorities? Can you summarize your standard operating procedures and priorities, regardless of complexity, with memorable phrases or acronyms?

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 72-2, August 2017.


 

This is part of a weekly series posting excerpts 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; each solution is taken from a different book. Additionally, a practical action step is included with each solution.

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 Remix provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

>> Subscribe to SUMS Remix <<

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

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. He joined Auxano in 2012.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I have found out more. I guess it's all about backing? ReNew doesn't have that. We are a mission church, in a small downtown area. We are a wonderful church though. I guess we also needed everyone to attend and possibly be of service all the time. If I could have it all over to again, I'd participate more, open my mouth more,....IDK, I still am holding onto God's intervention somehow. We have until Sept. 30th.
 
— Linda Speaks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> We are experiencing our church closing at the end of the month. We are all heart broken and agree that this is the best church family we've ever had. I personally can say I am not used to my attendance weekly being so important. I have never been to a start up church. We needed 3 things, an associate pastor, everyone's involvement and money. I cannot believe that the best church for so many people is closing. Being g a forever optimist, I can't help but think God will intervene somehow.
 
— Linda
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree with your 3 must-haves. I would add that the rectors have to call on every member who attends, at least once a year. The existence of a "calling commitee" is just an excuse to avoid making the effort. This is part of #3. If a rector does not like to call on parishioners, then she/he should not be a rector, but should find a different ministry. Carter Kerns, former senior warden, Diocese of Eastern Oregon and lifelong Episcopalian Tel# 541-379-3124
 
— Carter Kerns
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Your Guests Need Presence, Not Just Proximity

Listening to Donald Miller’s podcast, I heard a comment from Bob Goff that literally stopped me in my tracks while on my daily podcast walk:

Don’t mistake proximity for presence.

My mind jumped to Amy Cuddy’s book, Presence, and this statement:

Listening is crucial to presence. Real listening can’t happen unless we have a sincere desire to understand what we’re hearing.

Now, put those thoughts together, and apply them to the setting of your Guest Experience teams.

See that Guest approaching? As they draw closer, there is no more important person in the world.

It’s time to move from proximity to presence.

 

You’re in the most important two feet in Guest Experience.

  • It’s your team member on the front line.
  • It’s the Guest standing in front of them.
  • It’s the space between your Guest and your front-line Guest ExperienceTeam member.

Recognizing this important three-way meaning is the starting point for understanding how to be present with your Guest.

The interactions that take place between your team members and the Guests in those 24 inches are rich with expectations – and can also be filled with missed opportunities.

In that space your front-line team members have become the face and voice of your organization.

There is an idea-generating and innovation factory that remains untapped in most organizations simply because most leaders do not know how to connect the experiences and insights of their front line to solving Guest problems. – Chris DeRose, Judgment on the Front Line

How they represent themselves, what they do (or don’t do), what they say (or don’t say) – that’s the powerful human “ first impression” your Guest is experiencing – and will remember.

Are your Guest Experience Team Members fully present with your Guests?

…or are they just in proximity?

> Read more from Bob.


 

Learn more about the power of presence with your Guests – start a conversation with Guest Experience Navigator Bob Adams.

Download PDF

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bob Adams

Bob Adams

Bob is an absolute fanatic about Guest Experiences, growing up watching his father serve customers at the gas station he built and operated for 44 years. Bob is continually connecting with corporate leaders in the customer experience world, learning and then translating practices for ChurchWorld. He writes, speaks, and consults on the topic frequently. Vocationally, Bob has a dual role at Auxano, a clarity first consulting firm serving the church. As Vision Room Curator and Digital Engagement Leader he researches, edits, writes and publishes online content. As Guest Experience Navigator, he leverages his passion, providing Guest Perspective Evaluations and Guest Experience Blueprints. Bob and his wife Anita have been married for 38 years. They have 4 children, 2 daughters-in-law, 1 son-in-law, and 4 grandchildren.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I have found out more. I guess it's all about backing? ReNew doesn't have that. We are a mission church, in a small downtown area. We are a wonderful church though. I guess we also needed everyone to attend and possibly be of service all the time. If I could have it all over to again, I'd participate more, open my mouth more,....IDK, I still am holding onto God's intervention somehow. We have until Sept. 30th.
 
— Linda Speaks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> We are experiencing our church closing at the end of the month. We are all heart broken and agree that this is the best church family we've ever had. I personally can say I am not used to my attendance weekly being so important. I have never been to a start up church. We needed 3 things, an associate pastor, everyone's involvement and money. I cannot believe that the best church for so many people is closing. Being g a forever optimist, I can't help but think God will intervene somehow.
 
— Linda
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree with your 3 must-haves. I would add that the rectors have to call on every member who attends, at least once a year. The existence of a "calling commitee" is just an excuse to avoid making the effort. This is part of #3. If a rector does not like to call on parishioners, then she/he should not be a rector, but should find a different ministry. Carter Kerns, former senior warden, Diocese of Eastern Oregon and lifelong Episcopalian Tel# 541-379-3124
 
— Carter Kerns
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

How Great Can Your Guest Experience Really Be?

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 “customer” the author is talking about – and you will benefit from the knowledge and expertise of some great minds.


The volume of a grand piano is determined by more than how hard the pianist presses the keys. The position of the piano lid can impact the decibel level of the sound coming from the instrument. All grand pianos have three positions: closed, half-way open and fully raised. The choice of lid positioning has to do with the priority the grand piano is to play in a performance.

Fully raised piano lids are used when the grand piano has center billing—it is the star of the show. You see this position used during a piano concert. Half open is used on those occasions a grand piano is sharing the spotlight with others in the performance. It might be the orchestra, a vocal soloist, or a choir. Obviously, closed is when the piano is more in the background as an accompanying instrument. Grand piano lids are alike to the priority of the customer in an organization.

Customer-centric is obviously wide open and fully raised. The customer is the star. Employees in customer-centric organizations seem to have unlimited authority to take care of customers and exercise obvious initiative to ensure customers get a consistently great experience. These organizations hire the best, expect the best performance, treat their employees as the best, and hold leaders accountable for achieving the best. Their over-the-top service creates a strong, almost cult-like following among customers who act like zealots.

Customer-focused organizations are those in which the customer is important, but must share top billing with others—like products, processes, or perhaps the bottom line. Customer-focused organizations get good marks from their customers. They not only do the basics exceedingly well, they periodically take actions that yield a story customers enjoy repeating. They place extensive effort on ensuring offerings are based on up-to-date customer intelligence and feedback. They ensure employees are resourced, supported and motivated. Their efforts produce customers who are generally loyal.

Customer-aware is “closed lid” organizations that desire customers to be more in the background. These organizations give enough lip service to customer service that it shows up in pockets of service delivery but not consistently. A friendly branch or store in one location, for example, and another simply going through the motions. Their efforts yield customers who are generally satisfied.  However, satisfied customers only remain as long as a better (or sometimes simply different) option is unavailable. Customer-aware organizations struggle with growth but survive if they can keep the price-service-product (or outcome) in proper balance.

So, where is the lid on your customer priority? As you consider a level of service relevant for your organization, consider these questions:

  • What level of service do your customers expect?
  • What level of service would your customers value and pay for?
  • What level of service can your employees deliver?
  • What level of service will leaders support?
  • What level of service can your culture sustain?

Choosing the position of the “customer lid” can make all the difference in the harmony or dissonance of your bottom line as well as your customers’ desire to be at your next concert!

> Read more from Chip.


 

Learn more about the power of connecting with your Guests – start a conversation with Guest Experience Navigator Bob Adams.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chip Bell

Chip Bell

Chip R. Bell is the author of several best-selling books including his newest: Sprinkles: Creating Awesome Experiences Through Innovative Service. He can be reached at www.chipbell.com.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I have found out more. I guess it's all about backing? ReNew doesn't have that. We are a mission church, in a small downtown area. We are a wonderful church though. I guess we also needed everyone to attend and possibly be of service all the time. If I could have it all over to again, I'd participate more, open my mouth more,....IDK, I still am holding onto God's intervention somehow. We have until Sept. 30th.
 
— Linda Speaks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> We are experiencing our church closing at the end of the month. We are all heart broken and agree that this is the best church family we've ever had. I personally can say I am not used to my attendance weekly being so important. I have never been to a start up church. We needed 3 things, an associate pastor, everyone's involvement and money. I cannot believe that the best church for so many people is closing. Being g a forever optimist, I can't help but think God will intervene somehow.
 
— Linda
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree with your 3 must-haves. I would add that the rectors have to call on every member who attends, at least once a year. The existence of a "calling commitee" is just an excuse to avoid making the effort. This is part of #3. If a rector does not like to call on parishioners, then she/he should not be a rector, but should find a different ministry. Carter Kerns, former senior warden, Diocese of Eastern Oregon and lifelong Episcopalian Tel# 541-379-3124
 
— Carter Kerns
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

How to Change Your Guest Culture – Fast!

You don’t need to lay out a five year plan. You don’t need to bring in an outside consultant. You don’t need to invest in expensive training, read a mountain of books, or hire a ringer from another church staff to up your guest services game.

There’s one solution that will bring about change starting next weekend. One solution that will allow you to see many of the things that you would otherwise pay a “professional” to spot:

Invite a friend.

It’s really that simple. If you have an unchurched friend that you’ve been investing in, praying for, and hoping against hope that she would come to faith in Christ, just invite her to come with you to a weekend service. Suddenly, everything that a guest sees…you will see. It will all come into crystal-clear focus. You’ll take notice of whether others take notice of her. You’ll witness every awkward encounter. You’ll hear every clumsy transition. You’ll see every fleck of peeling paint, every piece of trash on the bathroom floor, and every smudge on the lobby windows.

There’s something about inviting our guests that makes us take notice of all the guests. When our friends show up, things get personal. Priorities get realigned. Items that were once a “good idea one day when we can get around to it” suddenly move up the chain to be of utmost importance.

Don’t get me wrong: you’ll still need a plan of attack, you might want to consider an outside consultant, and you may want to pick up a few books. But getting a jumpstart is as simple as sending a text:

“Hey, want to come with me to church this weekend?”

> Read more from Danny.

> Learn more about Danny’s book, People Are The Mission.


 

Learn more about the power of connecting with your Guests – start a conversation with Guest Experience Navigator Bob Adams.

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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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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I have found out more. I guess it's all about backing? ReNew doesn't have that. We are a mission church, in a small downtown area. We are a wonderful church though. I guess we also needed everyone to attend and possibly be of service all the time. If I could have it all over to again, I'd participate more, open my mouth more,....IDK, I still am holding onto God's intervention somehow. We have until Sept. 30th.
 
— Linda Speaks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> We are experiencing our church closing at the end of the month. We are all heart broken and agree that this is the best church family we've ever had. I personally can say I am not used to my attendance weekly being so important. I have never been to a start up church. We needed 3 things, an associate pastor, everyone's involvement and money. I cannot believe that the best church for so many people is closing. Being g a forever optimist, I can't help but think God will intervene somehow.
 
— Linda
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree with your 3 must-haves. I would add that the rectors have to call on every member who attends, at least once a year. The existence of a "calling commitee" is just an excuse to avoid making the effort. This is part of #3. If a rector does not like to call on parishioners, then she/he should not be a rector, but should find a different ministry. Carter Kerns, former senior warden, Diocese of Eastern Oregon and lifelong Episcopalian Tel# 541-379-3124
 
— Carter Kerns
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Guests Need This One Connection

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 “customer” the author is talking about – and you will benefit from the knowledge and expertise of some great minds.


A good movie has the power to make us laugh, cry, angry, hungry, or even want to quit our job, unplug, and live in the wilderness for the rest of our natural life.

A lot goes into a movie to make us feel so emotionally invested that we’ll want to tell our friends about our experience immediately.

  • We’ll tweet about it…
  • Share our critiques on Facebook…
  • Or, go straight to Instagram Live
    • …with a face still glowing from all the excitement!

For this reason, the entertainment industry spends more time studying one aspect even more than the most advanced visual effects or new camera angles:

Human emotion!

Why?

It’s because an emotional connection is the most potent and influential connection possible.

To make 1997’s Titanic, it cost a staggering $200 million. (In 1997 dollars!)

However, not very many people stepped out of the theatre marveling over the fact that a special Russian submarine was used or every detail on the ship matched the original Titanic down to the doorknob. The audience walked out in a trance, swooning over Jack and Rose’s romance, saddened by the massive loss of life — or enraged that Jack’s death could have been prevented had Rose just shared the door she was floating on!

  • The fact is, people rarely remember the details.
  • But they will remember how something made them feel.
    • And that’s why ALL business is “show business.”

It has come to the point where we have created a culture of customers who demand compelling experiences whenever they do business.

Regardless of your industry, what your product or service is, you’re selling an experience.

The entertainment business has already unlocked this secret and recognize that the more powerful the connection, the greater the success. Ultimately, to succeed individually and organizationally, you need to change the way you relate to customers and employees.

And I’m not saying that you should be more entertaining. Entertainment, after all, isn’t all song and dance, explosions or slapstick. A CEO isn’t expected to be a stand-up comedian at corporate meetings, and a barista isn’t supposed to break out in song the next time someone orders a latte.

However, there are industries such as retail or hospitality who will find that by increasing humor and fun, they’re creating and enhancing their connection with customers and employees. And a B2B organization or an insurance firm may find that by showing genuine care, concern, and empathy, an emotional bond is formed because the clients feel their unique challenges are understood and being taken care of.

To approach your business as “show business” is not to be confused with putting on an act, being overly dramatic, or being fake.

  • It’s about differentiating yourself from the competition by understanding your clients in the same way that show business understands their audience.
  • It’s about creating specific strategies based on your customer’s distinct preference in order to deliver experiences that are compelling and engaging.

It’s about taking what we can learn from the entertainment business and leverage that insight into building strong and lasting emotional connections with our clients and colleagues.

> Read more from Scott.


 

Learn more about the power of connecting with your Guests – start a conversation with Guest Experience Navigator Bob Adams.

Download PDF

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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); ?> I have found out more. I guess it's all about backing? ReNew doesn't have that. We are a mission church, in a small downtown area. We are a wonderful church though. I guess we also needed everyone to attend and possibly be of service all the time. If I could have it all over to again, I'd participate more, open my mouth more,....IDK, I still am holding onto God's intervention somehow. We have until Sept. 30th.
 
— Linda Speaks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> We are experiencing our church closing at the end of the month. We are all heart broken and agree that this is the best church family we've ever had. I personally can say I am not used to my attendance weekly being so important. I have never been to a start up church. We needed 3 things, an associate pastor, everyone's involvement and money. I cannot believe that the best church for so many people is closing. Being g a forever optimist, I can't help but think God will intervene somehow.
 
— Linda
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree with your 3 must-haves. I would add that the rectors have to call on every member who attends, at least once a year. The existence of a "calling commitee" is just an excuse to avoid making the effort. This is part of #3. If a rector does not like to call on parishioners, then she/he should not be a rector, but should find a different ministry. Carter Kerns, former senior warden, Diocese of Eastern Oregon and lifelong Episcopalian Tel# 541-379-3124
 
— Carter Kerns
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Three Marks of a Consistent Guest Experience

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 “customer” the author is talking about – and you will benefit from the knowledge and expertise of some great minds.


There is an old saying in the real-estate industry: The three keys to success are location, location and location. I have a similar take on the customer service and customer service world. The three keys to customer experience success are consistency, consistency and consistency.

Of course, there is much more to delivering an amazing customer experience, but if there is something that is a non-negotiable to creating customer loyalty, it is a consistent and predictable experience – one that customers can count on every time they do business with you. The entire experience must be consistent. You can’t be great one day and just okay the next. The moment there is inconsistency, you start to lose the customer’s confidence, and ultimately you might lose the customer.

So, let’s talk about the different ways an organization delivers a consistent experience.

  1. The quality of the product or service must be consistent. Whatever the company sells must meet the expectations of the customer, every time. It doesn’t matter how good your customer service is, if the product doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do, the customer will find another company that better meets their needs.
  2. The different channels customers interact with you and your organization must be consistent. Today’s customers connect with the companies they do business with in multiple ways. The traditional way a customer communicated with a company was in person or on the phone. Then along came emails, then chat, then chatbots. And, then there are social channels and other messaging apps. This is all part of the digital revolution, and the modern customer expects to have a consistent experience regardless of the channel.
  3. The attitude of the people who work at the company must be consistent. I’m not suggesting that everyone be a clone of each other. It is the positive attitude and the effort the employees make to take care of their customers that must be consistent. It shouldn’t matter if the customer talks to John one day and Jane the next, everyone comes to work with the plan to do their very best, every day. Regardless of who picks up the phone or responds to a message, the customer will always have a good experience.

When customers talk about the consistent company, they will say things like, “They are always so helpful.” Or, something like, “They are always so friendly and knowledgeable.” When they use the word always followed by something positive about the company, you know there is consistency. Delivering a consistent experience creates confidence. Confidence can lead to trust. And, trust leads to potential loyalty.


Shep Hyken is a customer service and experience expert, award-winning keynote speaker, and New York Times bestselling business author. For information, contact 314-692-2200 or www.hyken.comFor 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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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I have found out more. I guess it's all about backing? ReNew doesn't have that. We are a mission church, in a small downtown area. We are a wonderful church though. I guess we also needed everyone to attend and possibly be of service all the time. If I could have it all over to again, I'd participate more, open my mouth more,....IDK, I still am holding onto God's intervention somehow. We have until Sept. 30th.
 
— Linda Speaks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> We are experiencing our church closing at the end of the month. We are all heart broken and agree that this is the best church family we've ever had. I personally can say I am not used to my attendance weekly being so important. I have never been to a start up church. We needed 3 things, an associate pastor, everyone's involvement and money. I cannot believe that the best church for so many people is closing. Being g a forever optimist, I can't help but think God will intervene somehow.
 
— Linda
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree with your 3 must-haves. I would add that the rectors have to call on every member who attends, at least once a year. The existence of a "calling commitee" is just an excuse to avoid making the effort. This is part of #3. If a rector does not like to call on parishioners, then she/he should not be a rector, but should find a different ministry. Carter Kerns, former senior warden, Diocese of Eastern Oregon and lifelong Episcopalian Tel# 541-379-3124
 
— Carter Kerns
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Phrases That Welcome – And Repel – First Time Guests

Every new guest is a sign that you are doing something right, and an opportunity to change a life.

Each new guest represents an opportunity to influence their life toward Jesus, and by His power, they can be transformed. But they need to come back for greater opportunity to impact their life.

The return rate of your guests is more important than the actual number of your guests. Of course, it’s always better to have more guests, but let me explain what I mean.

For example, it’s better to have 25 guests a week with 15 returning, than 50 guests a week with 10 returning. We often get more excited about the more significant numbers, but guest engagement will always beat out guest attraction over the long haul.

The truth is that it’s easier to attract a guest than to engage a guest. It’s similar to the mall nearest your house. They can attract shoppers during the holidays, but it doesn’t mean the shoppers will buy something or come back.

Every time someone in your church invites a guest, they are taking a risk that the staff, volunteers and regular attenders will treat each one with honor, kindness, hospitality, and respect. The better your teams are trained and prepared, the lower the risk.

It’s always disappointing when you invite someone, and they won’t come, but it’s devastating when someone does come, but because of their experience won’t come back.

6 Worst Phrases:

These are the most common things ushers, greeters, staff and key leaders say that repel rather than engage your church guests.

1) “You must be a first-time guest.”

This infers that something about them doesn’t fit. For example, perhaps they are dressed up, and your church is casual. Or they arrive halfway through the service because they didn’t know what time it started. Instead, say something like “I’m so glad you are here!”

2) “Your kid is crying.”

Yikes, really?! But it’s true, this is said! First-time guests are reluctant to leave their child in the nursery but will try it. Don’t reward that risk with a slam. Instead, say something like: “Your child is having a tough time without you, everything is fine, and we can handle it, but thought you might like to know if you want to come check on him.”

3) “I don’t know.”

This often translates in your guest’s mind and heart as, “I don’t care.” If you don’t know the answer, that’s okay, but instead say something like: “Let me find the answer for you.”

4) “We’ll need you help in the nursery next week.”

Yup, I’ve seen it happen! And literally heard, “Okay, your first week is ‘on us’ but if you return you have to help.” Instead try, “We are so happy to serve you and your family and hope to see you next week!”

5) “You look tired.”

Please avoid and refrain from any subjective comments about a guest’s demeanor or appearance even if your intent is kindness or compassion. This kind of commentary infers that you are evaluating them. Instead, say a simple “Good morning!” which is always appropriate.

6) “That seat is saved.”

That’s close to “We don’t really want you here.” Instead, offer to give up your seat, or tap a committed volunteer on the shoulder who you know would love to give up their seat for a guest.

It is said that “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.” There is a lot of truth in that, but I don’t fully agree with that statement. I think it’s what you say AND how you say it.

Two of the things that can make or break your church on a Sunday morning are:

  • Your choice of words. (Action)
  • Your heart behind those words. (Attitude)

6 Best Phrases:

1) “May I help you?”

Your guest may be fumbling with an umbrella or negotiating a stroller through the front door, or a family is arriving with several kids. Offering to help is a fantastic way to engage a new guest.

2) “I’ll walk with you.”

Never point, always offer to go with the person. It may only be a 30-second walk, but in that 30 seconds, you have an amazing opportunity to connect with that person.

3) “My name is Dan, what’s yours?”

Offer your name and ask for theirs. A person’s name is deeply personal to them. If you make an effort to ask for their name, it shows you value and care about them as a person.

4) “Can I get you a cup of coffee?”

Don’t worry about whether or not they drink coffee, or might turn down your offer. The gesture matters. The important thing is that if they say yes, you are genuinely happy to get them a cup and make it just like they like it! Serving someone is a powerful form of engagement.

5) “Let me introduce you to my friend ‘David.’”

Helping a guest meet a person or two is a fantastic way to increase engagement. Don’t be pushy, keep it real and natural. But as the opportunities arise, make the introduction. Keep it short and simple.

6) “Is there anything I can do for you?”

This might sound like a summary or catch-all phrase, but it’s an important way to establish early on that you want them to enjoy the best experience possible and that you will go out of your way to be helpful; this is endearing and engaging.

> Read more from Dan.


 

Learn more about the power of your church’s first impression – connect with Guest Experience Navigator Bob Adams.

Download PDF

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Reiland

Dan Reiland

Dr. Dan Reiland serves as Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. He and Dr. Maxwell still enjoy partnering on a number of church related projects together. Dan is best known as a leader with a pastor's heart, but is often described as one of the nations most innovative church thinkers. His passion is developing leaders for the local church so that the Great Commission is advanced.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I have found out more. I guess it's all about backing? ReNew doesn't have that. We are a mission church, in a small downtown area. We are a wonderful church though. I guess we also needed everyone to attend and possibly be of service all the time. If I could have it all over to again, I'd participate more, open my mouth more,....IDK, I still am holding onto God's intervention somehow. We have until Sept. 30th.
 
— Linda Speaks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> We are experiencing our church closing at the end of the month. We are all heart broken and agree that this is the best church family we've ever had. I personally can say I am not used to my attendance weekly being so important. I have never been to a start up church. We needed 3 things, an associate pastor, everyone's involvement and money. I cannot believe that the best church for so many people is closing. Being g a forever optimist, I can't help but think God will intervene somehow.
 
— Linda
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree with your 3 must-haves. I would add that the rectors have to call on every member who attends, at least once a year. The existence of a "calling commitee" is just an excuse to avoid making the effort. This is part of #3. If a rector does not like to call on parishioners, then she/he should not be a rector, but should find a different ministry. Carter Kerns, former senior warden, Diocese of Eastern Oregon and lifelong Episcopalian Tel# 541-379-3124
 
— Carter Kerns
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.