Christmas Resources for Your Church

Christmas is coming! If you are in church leadership, hopefully you have already begun preparations for your Christmas weekend services.Whether you are hosting a Christmas Series, a Christmas Eve service or simply want to add some resources to your church website or blog – I suspect one or more of the below links and video’s may be just what you were looking for. Enjoy! (by the way, if you know of any you think should be added to the list, let me know!) 

Helpful Tip: If you want to open a lot of links all at once, try holding your CTRL key down on your PC while you click several links in a row. They should open them in new tabs.

Great Christmas Music Videos

Planning Christmas

Free Christmas Sermon Series/Graphics/Clips

These graphics are available for download for free. Some of them also include background video’s and extra resources.

Christmas Graphics/Clips for Sale

These graphics are available for a small fee. 

Random Christmas Websites

The following websites may offer interesting or helpful resources to you and/or your congregation. 

Christmas Crafts for Kids Ministry

Looking for some creative ideas for Sunday School classes? Try these sites.

Last Minute Christmas Links

I came across some more great links, resources and articles for churches & pastors I’d like to share with you. Perhaps you will find one or more of them helpful as you prepare for upcoming Christmas services & events and as you navigate that tension between ministry and family during this holiday season. Enjoy the Christmas Links!

60+Christmas Ideas by Canva
From elegant cards to simple invites, eye-catching flyers and posters, humorous and festive messages, you will definitely find the design that you’re looking for. Spread the good cheer and holiday spirit with a stunning template from our special selection! Read More.


The One Group You Might Forget This Christmas by Focus on the Family
The holiday season is upon us. As a pastor you have planned Christmas Eve services, prepared end-of-year reports, and been to more Christmas parties than you care to remember. With all of the activity involved in getting your church ready for Christmas, it can be easy to forget one group – your family. Read More.


Take the Nice Is Naughty Quiz for Pastors by Will Mancini
You’ve heard of the naughty or nice quiz before. We put people on one side of the behavior equation this time of the year. And if that doesn’t cross your mind, then someone at North Pole Central is finalizing the tally before Santa’s globe-trotting, Christmas Eve sleigh ride. This year, however, I want to put these terms on the same side of the equation. I think pastors need to consider “niceness” from an entirely different point of view. Read More.


25 Last Minute Christmas Ideas (for your church) by Robert Carnes
We’re all familiar with last-minute Christmas shopping. I’m one of the worst when it comes to Yuletide procrastination. Some of us don’t even start buying gifts until Christmas Eve. However, last minute is not a good policy when it comes to Christmas planning at your church. Because it takes a good deal more time to successfully orchestrate church events than it does to pick up some tacky sweaters from the department store. Read More.


Watch “The Story of Christmas” Video Series by YouVersion
Brought to you by The Lumo Project, the Bible App is now featuring this very special video collection throughout this holiday season. Each clip shows part of the story of Jesus’ birth with voice-over narration directly from the Scriptures. Read More.


57 Christmas Videos by Kevin D. Hendricks
Leading up to Christmas, we’re highlighting several Christmas videos on Fridays because videos on Fridays are fun. Plus Christmas videos that don’t suck might be useful for your church. If you like Christmas videos, today is your lucky day. We’re not waiting until Friday, because we’ve got 57 Christmas videos your church can use. Read More.


4 Ways to Keep Your Marriage from being Injured During the Christmas Holiday by Ron Edmondson
The Christmas season can be hard on relationships. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve met with a couple after the holidays because of problems that developed — or were exaggerated — between Thanksgiving and New Years. How can you protect your marriage this Christmas? That’s a good goal, right? Read More.


Christmas Resources For Your Church (right here on waynehedlund.org!)
Christmas is coming! If you are in church leadership, hopefully you have already begun preparations for your Christmas weekend services.Whether you are hosting a Christmas Series, a Christmas Eve service or simply want to add some resources to your church website or blog – I suspect one or more of the below links and video’s may be just what you were looking for. Read More.

The Christmas Scale by Igniter Media
It’s hard to believe that the greatest message the world will ever hear is contained in one simple scale. Downloads are available at IgniterMedia.com.


Check out more great links & videos for Christmas right here!

photo credit: kevin dooley via photopin cc

The Problem With Your Face

[This post is also available at www.guestfriendly.org.]


Your face probably lies . . . a lot!

You think you know what your face is saying, but it’s very possible you don’t. I discovered this the hard way. For years I thought I was expressing a kind, friendly expression everywhere I went.

Here are two examples:

  • A few years ago I was driving to work and passed by a church attendee walking in the parking lot. She saw me and lifted her hand in a brief wave of greeting. I made eye contact as I passed by, moved my mouth muscles into what I considered to be a ‘greeting smile’ and nodded. Immediately, I got the impression I should ‘check’ what my smile looked like. So I looked up into the rear view mirror and repeated the smile, only to be horrified to see a scowl looking back at me!
     
  • I remember sitting in my office across from a young couple in our church. The young man was interested in a job and had brought his wife along to discuss details and options with me. At one point in the conversation, he made a great comment that solicited a positive emotion inside of me. In a purely automatic response I again, moved my facial muscles in a modicum of a smile and nodded thoughtfully. A few moments later, I remembered the ‘scowl’ from the parking lot and realized that I had just frowned at him when I should have been smiling!

Most people smile at least a few times a day without even thinking about it. At least, they smile on the inside. Something happens that brings a small measure of joy into our hearts and we respond, either intentionally or unconsciously with a smile or nod.

The problem is, for MANY of us, our outward reactions don’t even
come close to our intention or genuine feelings.

This was true for me. One day my wife mentioned something about my ‘frown’ and I finally started paying attention. I was appalled and embarrassed. What I thought was a thoughtful or gentle smile was a total frown. I’m not exaggerating. My mouth automatically turned down on both sides creating a perfect frown. Ugh!

Since then I have been having an almost daily battle with my face – forcing it to truly express what I think and feel instead of what it (as if it has a will!) naturally expresses.

As a pastor, public speaker and Jesus follower with a strong desire to encourage and strengthen those around me, this became a very important issue for me. I’m afraid to think too much about the number of people I have given a negative impression about me, or worse, Jesus Christ, because of my expression.

The Scary-Mad Man

A while back our church hosted a national speaker and pastor for a conference. He brought one of his pastors and associates to assist him during the conference. Since I was sitting behind him, I engaged him in some breif conversation before the service. My first impression was less than nice. He seemed extremely unfriendly and antisocial. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think he was mad at me.

What shocked me was when the national speaker got up and introduced him as one of the kindest, passionate man with a huge hunger for God. I realized I had fallen for his scary expression. He seemed to be constantly frowning, even when it seemed like he should be happy.

It’s sad to say, but this has happened to me more often that I want to admit, and often from pastors and christian leaders that are, or should be, held with a measure of respect and esteem.

In his book, Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions, Guy Kawasaki said, “What does it cost to smile? Nothing. What does it cost not to smile? Everything, if it prevents you from connecting with people. While smiling sends a very clear message about your state of mind, not smiling creates an opening for many interpretations, including grumpiness, aloofness, and anger – none of which helps you enchant people.”

It turns out little orphan Annie had the right idea, “You’re never fully dressed without a smile!”

How is your smile, really? 

Check out “Teach Yourself to Smile” to learn some great tips on how to smile!

What Do Your Guests Really Experience At Church?

Back in the 90’s I was hired by a company to be a mystery shopper. The idea was that I would show up at a restaurant, order and eat my food and then give a very detailed analysis to my employer about my experience at the store. The point of this exercise was to help restaurants improve and get some outside input on the guest experience. The employees and leaders were just a little too close to the everyday activities to truly get, or give, an outside perspective.

A few years ago I decided to offer similar services to local churches. As a result, I have helped a lot of church leaders identify and address issues that were hindering first-time guests from having an optimal ‘welcoming’ experience. I’ve also had the privilege to meet some wonderful people and attend some great churches both large and small.

How This Works.

Here’s how this works. You hire me to come and visit your church. On a weekend of my choosing I show up, unannounced and incognito (no, I don’t wear an overcoat or a wig.) And YOU don’t tell any of your leaders that you’ve hired me or that I’m coming. In other words, I get to experience a ‘normal’ Sunday service.

During my visit, I take note of several key experiences as a first-time guest. 

  1. I check out the website to see how well it provides directions and information about the service.
     
  2. I evaluate the ‘Street to the Seat’ experience, beginning from when I get out of my car and ending when I sit down for the service.
     
  3. I take special note of how I was greeted and treated by both recognized hosts (like ushers/greeters), as well as by regular attendees.
     
  4. I also evaluate the overall service experience through the eyes of a guest (worship, announcements, offering, speaker, etc.).
     
  5. Finally, I evaluate what happens as the service ends and I make my way to my car to leave.

Mystery Guest Church Evaluation Includes:

  • A Mystery Guest Visit.
    Most of the time, I will visit the church myself. On occasion I may send a trained mystery guest team member to visit the church in my place.

  • A Detailed Mystery Guest Written Assessment.
    I will write up a detailed assessment of the Mystery Guest experience, including a ‘play by play’ of what took place as well as observations and recommendations for your leadership to consider.
     
  • One 90 Minute Coaching Session.
    I will also meet with the pastor or ministry leader to discuss my assessment and provide further details about the experience, answer questions, and offer practical recommendations on what the church might consider as next steps. 
     

About the Cost:

There are two costs associated with a Mystery Guest Church Evaluation.

  • Professional Fees: $500
    This is the basic cost for performing all of the above services. If a church cannot afford to pay the standard rate, please don’t hesitate to ask me about discount options.
     
  • Food & Travel: TBD
    Based on your location there may be additional costs associated with travel and/or overnight stays. In these cases, I will work with you to determine these additional costs before we finalize our agreement.

Signup Today! 

How much time do you spend on your yard?

It is absolutely dumbfounding to me how much time and money American’s spend taking care of their lawn.

According to the article ‘Statistically Speaking: Lawns by the Numbers,’ we spend a whopping 30 billion dollars keeping our grass green and trim. The reason we are so focused on the yard is quite simple. It’s what everyone sees when they drive by! Really, if we all took care of our lawn like we did our garage or basement, I suspect it wouldn’t look quite so nice.

As much as we try, people tend to make judgement calls by what they see. People’s perception is their reality, even if their perception is false. So we spend a lot of time making sure our lawns look nice (among many other things) so people will have a good perception of us.

What bothers me about this is that many ministries forget to take care of their “other” lawn. I’m talking about their virtual lawn – the church or ministry website.

Sometimes I am really embarrassed when I see some church websites. Often, it is the equivalent of an unkempt lawn with weeds sticking out everywhere, shrubs that are way overgrown and tall grass in places that should have been trimmed with a weed wacker long ago. No church would want to leave their front lawn in that condition on a Sunday morning!

What’s even more scary is that some church leaders either don’t care or don’t realize their website needs help. So the many virtual guests who ‘visit’ the church each week stop by, take one look, and put the pedal to the metal. They figure, “If that’s what the front lawn looks like, there’s no way I want to stop by for a visit!”

I HAVE TO BE HONEST. This really, really, really bothers me. And it’s why I started my own website business several years ago – to specifically help local churches and ministries with their virtual presence. I believe your church website holds one of the keys to increasing guest attendance each week!

MY OFFER TO YOU

I would love to have the chance to give you my opinion of your church or ministry website. I promise to be honest with you (no gimmicks and no tricks.) I’ll tell you if I think it looks great or if it needs a facelift, an overhaul or a funeral. If it needs a facelift, I’ll make some recommendations. If it needs more, I’ll let you know and also give you a quote for what I would charge to fix it for you.

Please consider taking me up on the offer. You have nothing to lose!

Looking For An Exceptional Greeter?

I love to tell the story about a large church in New York City that invites anyone who wants to be a greeter to join them Sunday morning. In the back room, before people begin arriving for church, all volunteers are asked to line up and smile. The pastor in charge then points to different people down the line to be the greeters for the morning, encouraging everyone else to work on their smile before coming back.

The fact is, just because someone is a nice person doesn’t necessarily mean they would make a great greeter. The best greeters are those that help attendees feel both welcome and at home as they arrive at church. They will help ease worries, reduce tension and are an important part of a first time guest’s first impression.

The Exceptional Greeter Workshop.

I’d like to introduce to you, ‘The Exceptional Greeter’ workshop, where I share some basic principles that are so easy to implement, but sometimes difficult to remember. Turn your ‘ho-hum’ greeters and ushers into ‘amazing’ greeters and ushers. 

The Exceptional Greeter is available in two formats: DVD or Thumb Drive. It includes video teaching as well as a participant’s note-taker. The 2 hour workshop is designed to be split into several 10-20 minute teaching segments, each followed by a group oriented question to facilitate workshop discussion & interaction throughout.

ORDER TODAY! 

How To Know If Guests Will Want To Return

I visited a popular Mexican Restaurant with my 14 year old son a while back.

He was convinced I would love the place. I was doubtful, which means I went into the experience already critical of what might happen. As you might expect, I had a terrible experience while my son loved it and was left scratching his head why I hated it. Here’s my short list:

  • The line was long, so I had to stand and wait for 10 minutes.
  • The floor was a simple, and dirty, concrete floor.
  • They didn’t serve ground beef, which is what I love on my taco salad.
  • They didn’t have any normal lettuce for my taco salad.
  • I had to pay extra if I wanted some nacho’s (where I normally go they are free.)
  • The ice machine was broken and the soda was warm (really.)
  • The place we chose to sit at was dirty and I had to clean it off myself first.

Most people reading that list will agree with me that I had a right to complain, and not want to return. And yet, there was a line of regular customers (like my son) who loves the place and will come back over and over, despite some minor (or even major) problems with the overall experience.

Why is that? Because loyal customers don’t need to be treated extra special to remain loyal. But that’s not true for first-time guests! Successful organizations will know how to roll out the red carpet for new people, and they will know how to invite them to return for a second visit!

THE SAME IS TRUE FOR THE LOCAL CHURCH!

How to know if your guests will want to return.

There are several proven strategies that, when embraced by local churches, will ensure most 1st time guests will be likely to come back for another visit. Here are just a few.

VIP Treatment the Moment They Arrive

The best greeter teams are those that know how to identify and host guests. From the moment guests arrive on the scene (as early as the parking lot in some cases) there are people available to kindly direct them to others who will then explain where things are, what to expect and, if necessary, help them find a seat. The most anxious first-timers will begin to relax and focus on God when their worries and fears are dealt with within the first 2-3 minutes after they arrive.

A Warm & Welcoming Environment

The moment churches forget they are hosting guests is the moment they stop caring about the floors, windows, bathrooms and rest of the building. That’s the moment when the church has decided to hold outsiders at arms length and just focus on insiders. This will be immediately obvious to visitors and may play a much larger role in deterring their return than just about anything else. First time guests should never be distracted by a dirty or run-down facility. 

Handling Kids With Care

Church leaders and greeters will do well to always treat the children and teens of first-time guests with the utmost respect and care. They will over-communicate where they will go and what to expect and they will exceed those expectations. Many long-standing church attendees around the world will confess in private that the real reason they came back was because of their children. Alternatively, ignore children and offer them a bad experience and your guests are almost sure to never return again.

Friendly Attendees

It makes a huge positive impression when the regular attendees are genuinely friendly and reach out to first-time guests. The subtext behind this environment is, “People are really nice here, and I can use friends who are nice to be around. Maybe I should come again.” I’ve visited churches who would label themselves as friendly, but who treated me like I was invisible. And I’ve visited those who are so obviously friendly towards outsiders. The difference between the two might be compared to the difference between the winter weather in the northern versus the southern United States.

Strategic Follow-Up

Unless your first-time guests are already committed ‘church goers’ it’s unlikely that your guests will think of coming back anytime soon. After all, they hold no loyalty toward the church or God yet. For the truly unchurched guest, church attendance might be viewed as something to do on a rainy day, when they think about it or simply when time permits. So churches need to strategically follow-up with their guests, preferably within hours or a day or two of their visit. And they shouldn’t forget about their guests after their ‘obligatory follow-up’ either. Rather, churches should consider methods by which they can occasionally invite past guests to upcoming events or sermon series that may potentially draw them back to the church for another visit.


What other ‘first-time guest’ strategies would you recommend?

(don’t forget to check out my webinar on this very topic later this week!)

10 Tips For Effective Guest Follow-Up

 

A while back my wife and I were invited to dinner with another couple in our church. From the moment we arrived until the moment we left we were treated like honored guests. The food was great, the fellowship was great and the overall experience was just very relaxing and enjoyable.

The next morning we discovered the host family had sent us an email thanking us for joining them for the meal and we found a post on Facebook announcing their joy in spending time with us. I was really impressed that they were still thinking of us even after the official ‘event’ was over with. It was definitely a Romans 12:13 experience.

“Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”

There are so many things the local church can learn and should emulate from my experience with this family. The one I’d like to highlight in today’s post has to do with the importance and value of effective guest follow-up.

Consider this scenario:

It’s Sunday afternoon and Tim & Joanne just finished lunch with their two teenage kids. Conversation centered around everyone’s impression of the church they visited that morning for the first time. Everyone was in agreement that they enjoyed the service and the people were mostly friendly. Since attending church is not something they normally do as a family they found it a novel experience, to say the least. That said, nobody suggested going back next week.

Two days later Joanne and her daughter are sitting in the living room watching TV when a commercial comes on, distracting them for a moment. Joanne mentions that she received a nice letter from the pastor expressing how glad he was that they visited and letting them know he’d love to talk with them sometime if they have any questions about their first visit to the church. This sparks a lively conversation about one aspect of the service that they did find awkward (the singing). Before the show resumed, the daughter wondered if they should try visiting again some Sunday. 

Fast forward three weeks to a Saturday afternoon. Everyone is driving back from a baseball game when Tim announces he had just received an email that morning from one of the greeters of the church inviting them to come visit the church again sometime. He asked his family, “What do you all think of us going back tomorrow morning?” After some discussion about schedules, everyone agrees to give it another try.

A simple little story that highlights just one thing: the potential influence of guest follow-up. In this scenario, had the church not reached out to that family again, it could have been months or even years before they ever came back. The busy-ness of life and schedules hold a greater demand on their time.

Church was hardly the center of this family’s attention or priorities, but they decided to visit again. I wonder what might happen after they have come a second time? Will their conversation at lunch that Sunday result in a die-hard commitment to the church for the rest of their lives?

I doubt it very much. Assuming they have another great experience (which is sometimes ‘iffy’) they may find themselves a little more vested than a month ago, but not enough to become regular attendees yet. Thus, the importance of a second time guest follow up.

I’m a firm believer in consistent, intentional and friendly follow-up to Sunday service guests.

I believe there is a RIGHT way and a WRONG way to follow up with church guests. In fact, poor guest follow up might actually end up being worse than no follow up at all. Check out some of these tips for great guest-friendly follow-up.

10 Follow-Up Tips

1. Decide to Follow Up.

One of the biggest reasons church’s don’t follow-up is simply because they are already busy and overwhelmed. Follow-up is just one more thing to do and often it gets shoved to the back burner for more urgent tasks. What most pastors and leaders forget is that effective follow-up may ultimately be one of the most mission-critical things you do besides the Sunday morning experience. Your passion to see lives transformed means you should be committed to finding ways to encourage people who need what you have (Christ’s Transforming Love) to return again and again until they have received it. Make a decision this week to start or begin evaluating your guest follow up.

2. Ask Permission.

Nobody likes to receive communications without at least some small amount of permission first. It’s not necessary to literally ask a person if you can send them information; but it’s usually wise to create a system whereby they give you their email, phone numbers, and mailing address (as opposed to surprising them by sending them communications by looking them up). The simple task of having them write out their information is implication enough that you just may DO something with that information. For example: Asking them to fill out an information card during their visit to the church.

3. No Pressure.

Please don’t pressure your guests to come back or make them feel guilty if they don’t visit again! This is, perhaps, one of the worst ways to communicate with new people in your church. Whether you are sending a letter, email, Facebook message, or calling them on the phone, remember to treat them as you would want to be treated were you in their shoes. Guests want to feel valued and special when they hear from you. This also means that you shouldn’t presume that they will or will want to visit the church again in the near future.

4. Be a Giver.

The focus of your follow-up communications should stay solely on serving your guest. What can you give to them to help them in this season of their life? You know they may be interested in your church, so GIVE them information they are interested in receiving about your church, with no strings attached. Ask them about their experience on Sunday and if they have any questions about anything. You also know that, whether they know it or not, people usually attend church because God is drawing them. If possible, find out what’s going on in their life that you or your church can help them with. Ask them if there’s anything they would like prayer for. As a bonus, if you can find ways to literally give your guests gifts I’m sure they won’t be too upset. For example: Include a $5 gift card or see if a business owner in your church would be willing to give out free coupons to guests for their product or services.

5. Look Out.

In this article I discuss the difference between Insiders Looking In, Insiders Looking Out, Outsiders Looking In, and Outsiders Looking Out. Taylor your follow up with an ‘Outsiders Looking In’ or an ‘Outsiders Looking Out’ perspective. Remember the world they live in and that their lives are probably already complicated and full.

6. Follow Up More than Once

It is very common for churches to send one follow-up to guests and then to never contact them again. Unfortunately, one follow-up is rarely enough to encourage repeat visits for every guest. Fact: Your guests will probably NOT attend your church consistently at first. They may visit two, three or more times over the course of several months before they start attending weekly. Fact: Your guests have NOT decided to make your church their church home after visiting two or three times. They may say they like your church and the people, but they are not vested in attending regularly yet. Follow up after each guest attendance – at least the first three if not more. Consider following up more often in between visits as well. For example, I know a church that sends a letter to all the guests who visited their church the previous month.

7. Build Follow-Up Systems

There is no way you will be consistently successful in guest friendly follow-up without some systems in place to accommodate what amounts to a highly administrative part of church work. Check out this article I wrote about the Systems/People Matrix. This means you need a simple system for collecting guest information, processing it, tracking it so that you know how often your guests have attended, clarifying which type of follow up should happen (first time follow-up, second time, etc.), and getting the right tasks to the right people in order to actually do that particular follow up. Note: there’s no way around it, you will need a secretary or an administratively gifted individual to champion your follow-up systems.

8. Be Relevant

What worked last decade probably isn’t relevant today. Letters are nice in certain communities and for the older generations they are probably great. But take into consideration your demographics and who you are trying to reach when you choose your methods of follow-up. At one church I worked with for many months they chose to follow-up with a mix of phone calls, letters, emails and Facebook posts.

9. Be Personal

Another way to say it is, “Be friendly.” It is altogether too easy to write an email or letter that sounds formal and businesslike. Not good. Work hard at ensuring the tone of your nonverbal communications are down to earth and friendly. Work just as hard at your verbal follow-ups. You may even consider writing out a script that could be used to ensure your language is friendly over the phone. For instance, “Hello, this is Pastor Bill from the Community Church. I was wondering if I could speak with Tim or Joanne? Oh, hi Joanne. (1)Am I catching you at a bad time? Great. (2)How are you today? . . .  (3)Joanne, the reason I’m calling today is simply to follow-up on your visit to church this last week. (4)I was wondering how you liked the service and if you had any questions about your experience . . . . . . Hey, one more thing before I let you go. (5)Is there anything I can pray for you and your family about this week? . . . . OK. (6)I’m so glad we were able to connect for a few minutes. Have a great day! Bye now.” Notice the script includes several key phrases I wouldn’t want to forget to say. I also phrased them in a conversational way to help me keep the conversation informal. 

10. Follow Up in Bite Size Chunks

You’ve heard the phrase, “Don’t bite off more than you can chew.” It applies here. Please develop your Guest Friendly Follow Up, but don’t try to go from zero to hero in one week. Build your follow-up systems in small pieces to ensure the systems work. A few months ago I was coaching a pastor and he told me he was ready to take another step in his follow-up systems. We developed a system where a particularly nice and caring man in the church gets a list of 2nd time guests once a month and calls them to pray for them and invite them to an upcoming special event or Sunday service again. It was one step forward. He spent several weeks getting that strategy up and running, and then came back and started talking about what should happen after that.

Blind Spots for the Local Church

 
I visited a church a while back that had a BIG blind spot. At least, it seemed like a blind spot to me. I could see the problem, but none of the leaders seemed to realize it was there. The problem was that they really believed they were a friendly church, but in reality they weren’t . . . unless you were an insider. I was greeted at the door, which was nice; but from that point forward I became invisible. People actually seemed to work hard at avoiding eye contact with me! This ‘Blind Spot’ is really hurting them – mostly because they are blind to the problem, while it’s painfully obvious to every guest who darkens their door.

Last week I wrote a post entitled, ‘Blind Spots for the Christian Leader‘. This simple matrix does a great job of defining the various areas of self awareness each of us possess. If you haven’t read it yet, I recommend you jump back & check it out.

Today, I’d like to explore how the Johari Window applies to the local church (rather than just the pastor or a leader within the church). Here’s a review of how the Johari Window works. 

Johari-Window3

In the above image you’ll note the four quadrants.  Each section represents knowledge or lack of knowledge regarding various character traits, weaknesses, etc. for the individual, or for today’s discussion, the local church. Because we are dealing with a group of people instead of just one person, each quadrant gets a little more complicated. With the exception of the ‘Unknown’ section, there end up being different groups of people for each area. So far as I can tell, here are the different groups of people we should keep in mind:

  • Leaders: This includes the pastor, key staff, elders and any other leaders who are on the front lines in ministry at the church.
  • Members/Attendees: This includes everyone else who attends regularly and are the recipients of most of the ministry at the church.
  • Guests: This includes anyone who attends a service, activity, or event for the first time as well as those who come back to visit two or more times. A ‘guest’ is anyone who considers themselves a visitor at the church, regardless of how long they have been attending.
  • Community: This includes anyone in your community who has never attended your church. 

Let’s take a look at each quadrant in relation to the local church:

Open Self – Known To Everyone

For the local church, this is the smallest quadrant of all. There is very little about a local church that everyone knows about, especially when you add in the community – some of whom may not even know the church exists. Depending on the community, the ‘Arena’ quadrant may include things like the church name, location and/or pastor.
 

Hidden Self – Known Only To Us

Leaders are aware of things that members, guests, and the community are unaware of. Examples might include sensitive information like giving records, individual’s unique circumstances, people problems, etc. It may also include a clearer understanding of the bigger picture for the church. For instance, leaders are most likely to know where the church has been and where it’s going.

On the down-side, leaders are often guilty of unintentionally holding their cards too closely to the chest. As a result, sometimes other leaders, volunteers, and/or members can be stuck serving without fully comprehending what they are doing, how they should do it, or why it’s important.

Members are usually ‘in the know’ in some areas, at least in comparison to guests and the community. Where church life can get messy is when members are aware of sensitive information that doesn’t include the whole story or bigger picture. This is a feeding frenzy for satan to reek havoc in the church. Lack of communication or miscommunication will often lead to false conclusions, wrong expectations, and misguided assumptions.

To make matters even more complex, many times members are privy to situations and needs in the church that leaders are unaware of and don’t take the ownership to communicate what’s going on with them. Again, this disables whatever care those leaders may be able to exert in the situation.

Finally, leaders often fail to realize that many members are exactly what they need to solve certain problems, lead certain ministries, or fund new initiatives. God has placed the right people in ‘the house’ for the ministry He wants to initiate. This means many members have the skills, experience or funds to fulfill those purposes, if leaders would just invite them to participate.
 

Blind Self – Known to Others, Unknown to Us

Leaders are often the ones in the dark in this quadrant. There’s an old saying, “Ignorance is bliss.” It may be true for the church leader & pastor. Many would rather not know what they don’t know, but ultimately it isn’t healthy or helpful to the success of the church.

Blind Spots for leaders will include what people really think about the services, events, and activities in the church. For instance, the pastor may believe the weekly bible study is important, relevant and impacting to those who attend while the attendees may simply come because they believe they are supposed to, not because it is helpful to them. Other leadership Blind Spots might include genuine needs that members, guests and the community has, but which have never been communicated to them.

(Remember, we are focusing on the organization, not the individual – there are more blind spots that the pastor or a leader may have personally which I’ve discussed in the post ‘Johari Window for the Christian Leader‘.)

Members often have blind spots in their overall effectiveness or involvement in ministry in the church. Additionally, they may not reflect the values and culture the leadership is expecting or hoping for. This is usually due to a lack of communication, mentoring and regular leadership development.

Guests are blind to nearly everything going on around them. Often, their perceptions do not fully reflect reality. They may perceive the church as a warm, friendly place at the start but discover later on that it’s very difficult to connect with people. Conversely, their first impression may be that the church is unfriendly and irrelevant when in reality the opposite is true, were they to stick around. They may be blind to conflict or organizational dysfunction until they’ve been around for a few months or even years. Research says that 96% of people who have a bad experience never complain. This means your guests may know things about your church that you are completely clueless about; in particular, their first impressions and experiences.

The Community is usually completely clueless. If they are even aware your church exists, what they do think about the church and those in the church rarely reflects reality. Unfortunately, this may also contribute to their unwillingness to visit. That said the community may also have important information about your church that you are unaware of. In particular, they know what they think about the church, even if it’s not true. For example, perhaps they ‘heard’ about a guest’s bad experience or a member was rude or insensitive to someone they know. Maybe that community event the church hosted ten years ago that didn’t go very well is still resident in many people’s minds. Individuals in the community will almost never share these thoughts with church leaders, unless they somehow find their way into the life of the church first and reflect back on their original perceptions.
 

UNKNOWN – Known to No One but God

There are things about your church that nobody knows, but God. Some of those things don’t really matter, like where the cool Christmas lights went that were bought two years ago. However, sometimes there are important aspects of ministry that, if revealed, would stimulate personal and numerical growth over time. This is why it is so critical that church leaders remain humble, are voracious learners and readers, and are willing to allow others outside their church (and often inside their church) provide ongoing coaching to them both personally and organizationally.

As a ministry coach, I might be able to play a role in helping you unveil some of the ‘Unknown’ in your ministry. If you’re interested, please contact me and we’ll start a conversation about it.

 

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