Everyone on Your Church Staff Is On the Welcome Team

Church staffs are infamous for building silos. Most of the time, it’s innocent: we get busy working in our corner of the world, and we forget that there are other ministry leaders running alongside us who would benefit from knowing what we do (and vice-versa).

But in a worse-case scenario, silos mean that your ministry is limited to the walls of your ministry. And in a guest services world, that’s harmful. After all, if the parking team and seating team understands the “win” behind caring for your guests, but your kids team and worship team doesn’t, well…that doesn’t ultimately help your guest. And if your finance team doesn’t understand why you spend so much money on your first-time guest bags, well…that might mean no more gifts for your guests.

So how do you transfer your DNA to other staff members? How can you help them understand the importance and the impact of a strong hospitable culture, regardless of the team they lead or the title they hold? Here are a few things we’ve been experimenting with on our team:

1. Create a hospitable culture from their first day on the job.

Most vocational first days are a mixture of excitement and letdown: excitement because we don’t really know what to expect; letdown because what we get usually isn’t what we expected.

The truth is, we don’t often plan well for our new employees’ first days. And our church was no exception. Last year we revamped our new employee orientation, approaching it more from what they need to feelrather than what we need them to know. Our Guest Services team worked closely with our personnel team to make the first week something special. We provide new team members with a “first day ambassador:” a friend who is assigned to them for the day, we find out their favorite snacks and have them available as a small treat, and we craft the normal tedium of orientation meetings around the exciting parts of our culture.

I recognize that our staff is on the larger side – meaning we host orientations every month or so. But creating a culture of hospitality is entirely scalable. And you can set an expectation for new staff just by making sure they’re treated well from day one. So the question for you: how can you create a powerful moment for your new staff member?

(For more ideas on this, read chapter two of The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath.)

2. Make your guest services training a requirement for all staff.

At our new staff orientation, we ask a few of our staff teams to spend some time talking about what they do, how it creates our overall culture, and what this means for the new hire’s role, regardless of what their role is. My team talks about the why behind guest services, and how a healthy, guest-friendly culture applies to our workweek (pick up the trashanswer your emails, etc.)

But we take that ten minute conversation one step further. A couple of years back, we started making our guest services training mandatory for all staff members. (I swiped this idea from Christ’s Church of the Valley, who requires all of their staff to go through both their hospitality and security training.)

Twice per year I’ll provide lunch and a customized training for our newer employees. We take them through our normal Guest Services training that our volunteers experience, plus we include some high-level staff training that helps them see the thousand-foot view, and helps them understand why a strong guest services culture is a gospel issue, not just a standalone ministry. The “aha!” moments that this training creates has been invaluable to us, and has helped all of our team see that first impressions isn’t just for first timers, and a hospitable culture isn’t the responsibility of one ministry area.

3. Have ongoing “teaching moments” in staff meetings.

A ten minute orientation talk and a one-time mandatory lunch isn’t enough. Look for opportunities to drip your guest services culture on an ongoing basis. My goal is to look at the what of any new staff procedures through the lens of the bigger why, and as those procedures are communicated, my team will sometimes jump in to add the why to the what.

For example, if we’re scheduling an office or campus clean-up day, my team might piggyback with the facilities team to talk about seeing what our guests see. If we’re rolling out a new phone system, my team might join the front office team to talk about the importance of actually returning phone calls. (Spoiler: you should.)

[related post: Make the Maintenance Guy a Guest Service Pro]

4. Practice what you preach.

It’s one thing to talk about the importance of guest services, hospitality, and quality. It’s quite another to deliver those things to your own staff team month after month, meeting after meeting, event after event.

So make it a habit of making the most of office culture, staff meetings, and other “in the family” events. Don’t tell your team that they should dress up their tables for meetings, but have nekkid tables in your own. Don’t expect your staff members to be alert to new guests on the weekend if you’re just barely getting by on quality during the week. Demonstrate what you want them to replicate, and don’t let your normal routines be too terribly normal.

5. Make yourself available as a resource.

Finally, DNA transfer happens best when it follows your example. For that reason, play the role of the servant-in-residence and serve your staff any way you can. That might look like helping your student team think through the outward focus of an upcoming event. It could mean helping to train your kids volunteers or small group leaders on how to be more hospitable in their own ministry. Or it could mean that you organize a parking team and serve at an event that you have nothing do with. I believe that serving begets serving and quality begets quality. If you take the lead, others will eventually follow.

[related post: Q&A: How Do I Get Beyond the Guest Services Silo?]

How do you transfer DNA from your ministry to other ministries on your staff team?

> Read more from Danny.


 

Want to know more about Guest Experiences at your church? Let’s talk! Connect with an Auxano Navigator here.

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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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10 Ways to Build Your Church Staff Dream Team

I love the church staff team I have the privilege of leading at Meck. They are dedicated, loyal, unified, joyful and deeply missional. Sadly, staff discord and dysfunction is all too common. So I shouldn’t be surprised that one of the most common questions I get asked by fellow pastors and church leaders is, “How did you get a staff like this?”

It wasn’t always this way, to be sure. I have made more than my fair share of staffing mistakes. In fact, they’ve been my biggest as a leader. I think I’ve chronicled almost every one of them in my book, What They Didn’t Teach You In Seminary (Baker), still one of my favorite books that I’ve written. Painful, as it involved sharing a lot of “learning through mistaking,” but a favorite.

So how did our staff get to the place that it is? Here are the top ten things I’ve learned to do, or to look for, from over thirty years of pastoral leadership. I believe most are transferable to almost any organizational setting – whether at a church, business or school:

Ten Principles to Build Your Church Staff Team

1. We hired from within. I’m continually surprised by how few organizations do this. The biggest reason to look from within your own ranks first is simple: they already have your DNA. There is also a sense where you know what you are getting. But DNA is the biggest issue. They inculcate who and what you are in a way no one else can. Some might find this insular – I find it protective. It’s easy to stretch yourself as a learner – it’s not so easy to flesh out a culture.

2. They came to Christ here. There is no substitute for someone who is a product of your mission. Their loyalty is off-the-charts, and you never have to convince them “why” you do “what” you do the “way” that you do it. They are the poster child. If you’re in a business, think of hiring your most rabid fans. Regardless, the product of what you are trying to do is often the best recruit.

3. They passed the “beer” test. Sorry if that’s offensive to some of you, but it’s part of Meck’s internal culture. We have a saying about people: “Do they pass the beer test?” Translation: If at the end of a long, hard day of work, would you want to go out and have a beer with them? If the answer is “yes,” they passed. I think most of you know that this is about chemistry.

4. We don’t have to be suspicious. Have you ever spotted someone talking to someone else in a hallway, or out in a parking lot, and got a pit in your stomach wondering about the conversation? In other words, you wondered whether it was divisive, undermining, gossipy, slanderous… or mostly, if it was about you? Never, ever hire anyone you are suspicious about. We all know to hire for character, but few throw in the idea of “relational” character. Are they a “safe” person relationally?

5. They have a bias for action. I’ve long said that I would rather rein someone in than kick them forward. There is no substitute for being catalytic, meaning someone who initiates, takes charge and creates action. Some people have a “ready, ready, ready, ready” mentality instead of a “ready, aim, fire” mentality. Go for the fire.

6. This is what God wants them to do. There is a significant difference between someone who wants a job, and someone who is answering a call. I’m not simply offering employment – I’m offering a life investment. I’m offering a way for them to fulfill God’s clear direction and invitation. Meck is a fantastic place to work, and many, many want to work here – but what is most important is whether working at Meck fulfills a clear sense of life-calling.

7. They’re good at what they do. In a word, they are competent. Very competent. They have a skill set, an aptitude, an intellect, an ability that matches the job. There’s no sin in hiring this way, even for a church. People can be a ministry, but you shouldn’t hire them as one. I look for people who are “tens” where we need them. And we need them in every role.

8. They do not need to be, or want to be, micro-managed. This may speak more to my personality, but I have no interest, desire or time to micro-manage anyone or anything. I remember reading of a 33-page government manual outlining how to buy hammers. If I had to oversee that, then shoot me now. Just hire someone you trust to buy them! If they can’t be trusted to do it, hire someone who can! This also goes to the way people need to be managed. If someone comes to my door every morning wanting to know the five things they should do that day, again, put me out of my misery. I want people who will figure it out, chase it down, and keep me in the loop.

9. If you didn’t pay them, they would still be serving, attending and giving. This is key. They are doing what they love, doing who they are, and doing what they believe in. If it’s just for a paycheck, then they don’t have real passion or commitment. When you have someone who would do what they are doing even if they weren’t being paid, you have a keeper.

10. They get the mission, and as a result, are mission-animals. I know I alluded to this under the idea of “hiring from within,” but even people who come from your mission may not be committed to it afterwards (that’s another blog, to be sure). You want people who truly embody, understand, live and breathe the mission. At Meck, this means they “get” who we are after (the unchurched), and are unwavering in that pursuit.

So what makes Meck’s staff special?

We strive to have everyone on staff reflect all ten.

And if I can brag on my team, they pretty much do.


Learn more about developing your staff team – connect with an Auxano Navigator.


> 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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