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Welcoming Guests and First Impressions

The sermon starts in the parking lot, and the impression you make for your guests on Sunday morning during the first 10 minutes will be indelible.

Technology and The Church

Leveraging technology for ministry can be an incredible blessing. But it can also be fraught with problems and pitfalls. Learn how to use technology well.

Vision and Leadership

Our God longs for leaders to request of Him to do that which they cannot. Faith filled vision, leadership and risk are key ingredients for ministry.

Preaching and Communication

You know and understand how challenging it is to communicate. It is hard to get and capture people's attention. Learn how to communicate effectively.

Creativity and Innovation

Being creative means asking the right questions and making new associations. Discover new and creative ideas for your ministry.

Showing posts with label Guest_Services. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Guest_Services. Show all posts

Why It's Important To Pay Attention

via Inside North Point

“First impressions can greatly impact the emotion consumers feel for a brand. What are first impressions like for your customers?” - The Disney Institute via Twitter

First impressions of your church and Sunday worship are important to guests. Therefore it is so important that you get your head out of the clouds and pay attention to the right things. You want to be able to look at them with fresh eyes. Here are some things to consider that will help you answer the question: What are first impressions like for your guests?

1. Pay attention to your physical environments:
  • architectural design
  • landscaping
  • lighting
  • color
  • signage
  • design on carpet
  • texture of surfaces
  • focal points and directional signs
  • music/ambient noise
  • smells
  • furniture
  • floor plan
2. Pay attention to your volunteers:
  • Where are they?
  • How easily identifiable are they?
  • What do they have permission to do and say?
  • Are they sensitive to guests?
  • Do they know how to spot a first-time guest?
  • What are they wearing?
3. Pay attention to your systems.

Systems are how you do things or how you ask people to do things. In churches, systems are things like . . . how someone registers for camp, how a new volunteer signs up to serve, how someone signs up for online-giving, how parents enroll their children into a class, how someone joins a small group, etc. 

Make sure your systems are…
  • clear – This is what I do.
  • easy – This is simple to do.
  • results – This gets me where I want to go.
(ht: Inside North Point)

Are You A Welcoming Church?

Updated from the MinistryBestPractices Archives: 

Are you a welcoming church? Perhaps you think you are...but because you've been coming to your church for some time and your opinion or perspective may be skewed.  Try to enter into the experience of a guest on Sunday morning. Ask God to give you fresh eyes on the Sunday morning experience.  How do think that a guest may feel when they enter your church?
  1. Do you provide an appropriate welcome to those visiting during your Sunday worship service? 
  2. Do you have the expectation that people will be visiting your church every Sunday?
  3. Is there adequate signage around the church for parking, bathroom and nursery?  
  4. Are people at your church able and prepared to go beyond "Hi, what's your name? Where do you live?" in a conversation with a guest? 
  5. Are people at your church willing to stop being driven by the TASKs on Sunday morning and stop long enough to have a conversation with a guest/visitor? 
  6. Do people smile at guests when speaking? 
  7. Do people make eye contact with the guests when speaking to them? 
  8. When someone is hurting, are you and others at your church willing to go beyond the "I'll pray for you" and actually stop and pray for that person? 
  9. Are you and others willing to accept and approach people who are different from you? 
  10. Are you truly a welcoming church?

How Not To Fail At Delivering A First Class Welcome

In our churches we are committed to giving every guest a first class welcome.  Well the same is true for the British in anticipation of the 2012 Olympic games, to be held in London.  The Britons have been given a crash course on how not to offend foreigners when they make their visit titled “Delivering a First Class Welcome.”

Here are the top ten etiquette tips from VisitBritain:

1. Don’t assume a smiling Japanese person is happy. They tend to smile when angry, embarrassed, sad or disappointed. Don’t talk to them with your hands in your pockets, and avoid eye contact. When sitting, don’t show them the bottom of your shoes.

2. Be careful how you pour wine for an Argentinian. For example, pouring wine backwards into a glass indicates hostility. And don’t be offended by their sense of humor, which may include making fun of your clothing or weight.

3. Avoid winking at someone from Hong Kong. Winking is often considered a rude gesture. And don’t point at them. That’s for animals.

4. Remember Arabs are not used to being told what to do. And don’t forget that it’s insensitive to ask an Emerati whether they want bacon with their eggs.

5. Do not be alarmed if South Africans announce that they were held up by robots. To a South African the word “robot” means traffic lights.

6. Don’t ask a Brazilian personal questions. And don’t mention Argentina, their fiercest sporting rival.

7. Avoid physical contact when first meeting someone from India.

8. When meeting Mexicans it is best not to discuss poverty, illegal aliens, earthquakes or their 1845-6 war with America.

9. Never call a Canadian an American.

10. Do not take offense if an Australian or a New Zealander makes a joke about “Poms” (a word for the English, but intended as a friendly endearment rather than an intended insult).

So what might an equally frank primer for churches, with tongue firmly in cheek, include for the unchurched?  Here are the top ten:

1. Don’t refer to them as pagans. They might take offense. A simple “secular humanist” should suffice.

2. Don’t ask your first time guests to stand up and be recognized while everyone else sits and stares. Too awkward. Better to have everyone else stand, and them remain seated.

3. Avoid handing out big, red “visitor” tags. They could be missed. Directed spotlights should suffice.

5 Tips For Remembering Names

If you are in ministry and part of the church then you are always meeting new people - especially on Sunday mornings.  But how can you effectively remember people's names and prevent their name being lost to you only seconds after you meet them?  Here are some tips excerpted from Wisebread.

Look for Distinguishing Features
When I meet someone, I always look for something unique in the way they look or act, and try to make an association with that feature and their name.

Associate a Name With an Occupation
Usually people tell you what they do for a living. I find that it's often easier to remember occupations than names because there is always a story to that occupation. All you have to do is to weave a person's name into your mental image of that person's occupation.

Repeat and Reintroduce
When you just meet someone new, try to say their name a few times while talking to them. Repetition always aids your memory, so introduce that person to some of your friends. You can also ask people to spell their names if you don't have nametags. If someone has an unusual name, it is especially helpful to get the pronunciation correct by repeating the name a few more times.

Associate Real Words With Names
Many names aren't real dictionary words, and that makes them harder to remember. If you see a person's name and associate it with a real word, somehow it is much easier to remember. For example, when I hear a name like Jaden, I think of the word "jade," and I associate the color green with that person. When I hear "Gladys," I think of gladiolas and associate that flower with the person's face.

Use Social Media
If you happen to like people you just met, you could friend them on Facebook or Twitter, where they will have pictures of themselves and links to their personal sites. When you have faces and names show up on your social media feed, then it is much easier to remember who they are when you see them in person.

What are your tips for remembering names of new people you meet? What do you do when you can't remember someone's name in a social situation?

(ht: WiseBread)

10 Things To Consider About Those Who Visit Your Church

#1 You will have more guests in one year than you think.
Research shows that five to eight percent of your worshipping community will self-identify as guests. Therefore the number of guests in one year is: [(Ave. weekly worship attendance) x (.05) x (52)]

#2 Many of your guests are going through situations that make them more responsive to God. These are the folks that are most likely to be moving, changing jobs, getting divorced, having kids, etc.

#3 Your guests are assessing very quickly whether or not they are coming back. This happens much faster than we think. For example, read The 11-Minute Difference.

#4 Your guests represent step one of accomplishing the Great Commission- these are the people coming to you! How much does your church spend on foreign missions? Compare that to how much we invest into the fish that swim to the boat before we cast a net.

#5 A guest who is attending may represent years of prayer, service, and invitation by a church member. My mom and I attended church without my father for 12 years. The first time my Dad came to church with us, imagine how I felt about the church and the hospitality of the people. All I could think was “Don’t screw up!”

#6 Studies show that guests will talk about their initial experiences 8-15 times with other people. Serve guests well and multiply your message.

#7 A welcoming ministry is a great “shallow end of the pool” to get people involved in service for the first time.Yes, you have plenty of intimidating places to serve like worship, small groups, and children’s ministry. So why not leverage an easy place to start?

#8 Building a great ministry to guests nourishes a culture of hospitality because of the concrete reminders to the entire congregation that guests matter.

#9 Investment in a welcoming ministry is an investment into every other ministry your church offers. I ask churches to dream about what ministry they might start. I then tell them to get it done by first having great guest services. Do you want an amazing prison ministry? Maybe the next Chuck Colson is visiting next week.

#10 We are commanded in Scripture to be hospitable. The Greek word philoxenia literally means to “love strangers” and is used in Romans 12:13 and Hebrews 13:2.

( ht: Will Mancini)

Bottle Up Your Stories

I want to share with you a few responses from some our 1st time guests these past several weeks (as told by our lead pastor Jon Adams):

Couple #1 drove all the way from Lawrenceville to visit us. This is a very savvy churched couple. They have help plant 2-3 churches and have participated in church leadership for year. They told me that they are just looking to get 'filled up' as they have been in season of hard knocks at other churches. On Monday, I called this couple and didn't even have to ask the husband to tell me about his experience at Big Creek. He started gushing:

"We've never come to a more friendly church...ever. People were respectful, not pushy, but we had several different folks engage us in meaningful conversation. One couple asked us to their Life Group. Another couple asked us out to lunch. We were overwhelmed by the love and grace that they experienced at Big Creek."

Couple #2 had just bought a house in Windemere. They have young kids and are coming from a church in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. and currently living in a corporate apartment in the Virginia area. They just happened to drive by our new property, saw our sign, and looked up on our website for directions to our Windward Ridge location. This couple has visited several local churches...both big and smaller in size. A guest at Big Creek (who sat next to this couple) followed up with them, patiently waited in the Welcome area while I was talking to another couple, and then introduced me to them. The husband's comment to me was this:

"We have been looking for a place where we can just plug in and serve and be fed. This is obviously a friendly place and we're coming back!"

Guest #3 is a single mom visited for the first time 2 weeks ago. She came with her freshmen in college aged son who is a follower of Jesus and went up to the communion line to an elder to receive communion. She was so moved by the words of the elder and the power of the gospel that with tears she opened her heart to the love of Jesus. In an email to me this week, she wrote me:

"Coming to Big Creek has really opened my eyes and my heart. I never knew a church could be this way and I know it will be a big part of my life. You are so inspirational in the services, willing to admit your flaws and that it's OK, Jesus loves us all the same."

Wow, what encouraging stories of lives being changed and touched by the gospel! People are meeting Jesus during the worship and seeing Jesus through our lives.

In sharing these stories I am not suggesting that everyone who visits Big Creek walks away with the same opinions. I am certainly not boasting or bragging, because in fact I know for certain that we fail people all the time. We are not a perfect church and we don't have all of our stuff together.

But that is the point of these stories. God has allowed us to hear from these people their stories. God let us hear these stories to be an encouragement. Too often in ministry it is easy to see all the stuff that we are not doing right. And isn't it true that when people are dissatisfied with you or your church that they aren't shy in letting you know. We can too often let the negative overshadow all the great things that God is doing in our midst.

So when God allows you to hear and see those stories of grace like I shared, bottle them up. Save them. Keep them. They become reminders and memorials to all that God has done and is continuing to do. And at any point someone comes up to you and dumps on you, you can always open up that bottle and be reminded that He is still at work and accomplishing great things in people's lives.

How To Know If You've Accomplished Excellence

Just because there is a Starbucks in every place known to exist, you might think that because of their monopoly they wouldn't have to care about the customer.

But I had a very interesting thing happen. I had ordered a Venti Americano and I went to sit down with a friend of mine for our meeting in the corner of the coffee shop. Just when I thought my drink might be ready, I went up to see if it was at the bar, and the barista was just finishing a big order and said that my drink would be right up. I was ok with that. I didn't complain or even make a sour face, I just went back to sit down. A couple of minutes later, my Americano arrived delivered to the table with a special note, apologizing for the inconvenience and welcoming me to a free drink during my next visit.

Wow, what a surprise! Starbucks cares so much about their customers experience that they are willing to do anything to make it right. This was the case even though myself, their customer, wasn't too put out. That didn't matter. They were put out. They measure their excellence not merely by the customer's reaction but rather by their own standards. They are the ultimate gauge of whether they have accomplished excellence -and they care.

As you think about your guest service and first impressions teams on Sunday morning, what are you measuring yourself with? What are your standards of excellence? Chances are you are not going to hear back from your guests whether or not you did a poor job. Therefore you need to establish certain success criteria so you know how you're doing.

Here are some sample criteria:

1. Volunteers - are they motivated? Do they arrive to their stations/responsibilities on Sunday morning on time?

2. You can ask your guests. We have a follow up website where we ask about their experience. We invite our guest's input. ( If your guests will be honest with you, then you can certainly benefit from their input.

3. Cleanliness - construct a check list for your exterior cleanliness (i.e. trash in the parking lot) and interior (i.e. clean glass doors and windows, swept carpet)

4. Returning guests - as you track your guests, how many return? Of course people return or don't return to your church due to a lot of different reasons, some of them may not have anything to do with their experience. But if you have a low return rate, it should cause you to ask yourself some hard questions, why? What are we doing to contribute to their decision not to come back.

Umbrella Greeters

Whenever it rains, Granger Community Church and Element Church both use greeters with umbrellas to escort people from their cars to the church. It’s a great idea - one that every church should use. I wish we, in North Georgia, could implement this ministry more - we really need the rain here.
Double UmbrellaSomething that may interest those churches creating great first impressions with umbrella greeters is Quincy Store’s new double umbrella. What better way to accomodate visitors to your church than with a double umbrella.

Little, special touches like an umbrella greeter can go a long way in making a first impression.

Forgetting the Big Little Things

Todd Rhoades, has just posted an interesting article about the University of Central Florida's new football stadium. This is a state of the art stadium, but it was missing just one, essential thing...water fountains!

You can read more about it here....

How can a university and stadium planners be so short sighted? Yes, I know that they want to force everyone to buy the $3 water at the concession stands, but Florida is hot, I know I lived in Orlando for 2 years. Water fountains are as essential as toilets for any public place.

This got me thinking, what are the essential things that WE NEED in PLACE and not forget to prepare for the guests when they come to our church.

Here are a couple of thoughts...

1. Good signage. You know where the bathrooms are and where the children go, Guests don't

2. Accessible and clear information. What does the church believe? Ministries and staff contact information etc...

3. How do I connect? People want to know that this is a group of people that they can get to know. We need to have a clear and easy process to make that happen.

4. How do I serve? People wanat to know that is is a group of people that they can make a difference with. As with connecting, our churches need an easy and clear process to get people serving and using their gifts.

Do you have anything to add to this list?

Not-so helpful helpdesk

This is a picture of a sign found on flickr.

People come to your helpdesk on a Sunday morning at church to ask questions. And your church volunteers and staff are there to help answer those questions and put the Sunday morning guest at ease. That is it's purpose, pure and simple.

Here are a couple of questions to ask about the effectiveness concerning your helpdesk/information desk/guest services area or whatever you may choose to call it:

1. Is there always someone there who is able to intelligently answer guest's questions? Do they smile and do they communicate interest when people walk up?

2. Is the helpdesk easy to locate and clearly marked?

3. Is there information easily available for your guests to take with them? A map of the church, instructions or how to check and register children, a guest packet etc?

4. Is there an opportunity and an easy method to ask for information from the guest?

Can you add anything to this?