Guest Experience #3 – Sort it Out . . .

Sort it out . . .

If you have been following along in my series of blogs on applying the “Strategic Process” to the guest experience at church, you will have just read a couple of days ago: Guest Experience #3 – Envision ‘What’s the Hope’. I’d like to complete what I started in that blog entry here. If you remember, we dreamed about a future that looks something like this:

  • WHAT WOULD I WANT A GUEST TO SAY DURING HIS OR HER VISIT? “I feel welcome at this church. The people are friendly and I believe they are glad I’m here. Everything is done with excellence. My whole family enjoys being here and feels cared for. They teach the Bible in a relevant way and I’m learning how to apply it in my everyday life. I am experiencing God here, and I know He’s transforming me. I feel I am part of something great, and I look forward to inviting my friends and family. I can’t wait to find out how I can get more involved.”
  • WHAT WOULD IT LOOK LIKE AS A GUEST ARRIVES?  As guests drive up to our church they see a well groomed lawn and building on a paved parking lot. There is someone outside dressed as a parking attendant just greeting people and offering to help with the elderly or little children. As they enter the building they are greeted warmly by a married couple and are given clear directions to the childcare programs, with an offer to accompany and help them get acclimated to out kids’ rooms. There is upbeat, contemporary worship playing in the halls, plenty of light, and a smell of fresh brewed coffee. They will be given a Welcome Packet with information about our church and asked to fill out a very simple guest card before entering the sanctuary.

The sanctuary is well lit and offers comfortable seating. There are special lights and props on-stage supporting the sermon series. Once the couple enters our sanctuary they are handed a simple bulletin and easily find seats near the back where they won’t feel too uncomfortable. The worship is new to them, but they notice that people seem to genuinely love God and are obviously singing to Him. Everyone on-stage communicates in a friendly and clear manner when they address the congregation. The sermon is delivered with passion and is completely relevant to their lives today. There is an opportunity for guests to make a fresh commitment to Christ near the end. etc. etc. etc.

  • WHAT WILL THE GUEST EXPERIENCE AFTER THE SERVICE IS OVER? The guest will receive an email from the Senior Pastor by the end of the day letting them know he was glad they were able to visit the church today and encouraging them to reply to the email, letting him know what they thought of their experience. By Wednesday, the guest will also receive a phone call from a church member who will simply ask if they had any questions about their experience in church on Sunday and to “look him up” should they choose to visit again sometime.
Wow! That’s a great vision! I’m sure that, as time goes on your team would refine and clarify hopes and expectations for the future. That’s an important part of the process too.
Why it’s important . . .
The more you clarify what you want the future to look like, the less likely it will be that you and your team strays from that future as you strive to reach it. Putting in black and white what you are hoping for is one of the best ways to ensure unity and focus as the weeks, months, and potentially years go by. A dream like this transcends people and will likely stay alive even after key members of your team (and maybe even you) have moved on to other things or other churches.
Sort it out . . .
Here’s what we didn’t do yet. We need to sort out the key elements of this dream into categories. This is important for us to be able to Face ‘What’s in the Way?’ and Determine ‘What’s the Path?’  So I’m going to attempt to sort out some (probably not all) of the key elements that we will want to focus in on in the weeks and months to come (in our hypothetical church setting).
START BY LISTING THE INDIVIDUAL ELEMENTS YOU SEE IN YOUR VISION: people are friendly, excellence, whole family (children/teens), care, relevant Bible teaching, Application in Bible teaching, experiencing God, equipped to invite friends, equipped in how to get involved, facility appearances (external/internal), signage, seating, lighting, greeters (outside/inside), coffee, guest seating, welcome packet, guest card, staging, simple bulletin, contemporary worship, congregation worships, opportunities to receive Christ, email guest, phone call to guests.
NEXT, GROUP THEM INTO CATEGORIES:
  • Host Ministry: greeters, parking attendant, cafe host (coffee), friendly, trained to host guests in building, chairs saved for guest in sanctuary.
  • Production: welcome packets, guest cards, simple bulletin.
  • Core Values: excellence, caring, relevant.
  • Worship: contemporary style, congregation engaged.
  • Children/Youth Ministry.
  • Sunday Sermon: relevant, application oriented, opportunity for salvation, opportunity to respond to God.
  • Facility: outside, clear signs, comfortable seating, good lighting, (sanctuary/hallways/lobby), stage is relevant to series.
  • Guest Follow Up: email from pastor, phone call from member.
  • Other: way to invite friends, opportunity to get involved, (Next Steps).
FINALLY, IDENTIFY THE AREAS MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU RIGHT NOW:
  • Host Ministry: greeters, parking attendant, cafe host (coffee), friendly, trained to host guests in building, chairs saved for guest in sanctuary.
  • Sunday Sermon: relevant, application oriented, opportunity for salvation, opportunity to respond to God.
  • Guest Follow Up: email from pastor, phone call from member.
Final Thoughts
At this stage you may discover a couple of things.
  1. There is a lot more to a solution than we thought. Praise the Lord! Consider what would have happened had you not walked through this process! No wonder we often feel like we are trying to make progress, but never get traction. Often it’s because we haven’t really identified all the important elements necessary to see our vision successful.
  2. We didn’t do an adequate job in step two of the Strategic Process.
    Now that you’ve clarified what you want the future to look like, you will likely discover that you didn’t really think through step two: Clarify ‘What Is?” Now that we’ve drilled down to the areas in our ministry that we really want to focus on, we should really go back and do some more clarification. For instance, if you compare the above list with our ‘What Is?’ list you will see that we haven’t really clarified how well we are fulfilling our core values in the lobby, worship, sermon, children’s ministry etc. We should clarify where we are strong and where we are weak in each of those areas.
  3. Some of the things we want to focus on will impact much more than what we intended.
    Awesome! You identified that you want the sermon to include opportunities for people to respond to the Lord when they are over. That will not only impact guests, but everyone! You decide you’d like coffee in the lobby. Cool! That will help stimulate fellowship among everyone in the church.

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One comment

  • phil November 16, 2010  

    umm this answers my other question…heh heh