When a first time guest drives onto your campus, they will decide within 11 minutes whether or not they are coming back.

Yes, the decision is made before your guests experience worship and the content of the sermon- the two elements that demand most, if not all, of our time and attention in preparation.

What would it look like if you extended the same level of intention to the 11 minutes prior to walking in the sanctuary or worship center? What might the impact be?

To start that conversation it's important to ask, "What does it currently feel like for your guests?" 

It's hard to overstate the wow factor a church body creates by serve generously through a system of hospitality. For the last 16 years we have observed and analyzed over 500 churches while conducting a "secret worshipper" experience.  It is a service at Auxano we call the "Guest Perspective Evaluation." One of my greatest thrills in ministry is tasting the variety of size, location, and spiritual heritage of these churches. But the most important observation is that any church can take small steps to make a dramatic difference in welcoming guests.

This post is the first time I have shared any of our tools or learnings. And the first place to start is to imagine seven checkpoints for your guest. Think of the checkpoints as "gates" or even "hurdles" that any first time guest must navigate to get from their comfy family room to your worship service. With every gate comes a simple question: 

Has the church removed the inherent difficulty of navigating the gate for the first time?

More specifically, I look for every opportunity to make each gate simple, easy and obvious to navigate.  Any particular difficulties created by your location or facility should be viewed as hospitality opportunities. By providing a great solution to an obvious barrier, you enhance the wow-factor of the hospitality.

First time guest decide within 11 minutes whether or not they are coming back to your church.

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THE SEVEN CHECKPOINTS 

#1 Before Departure: Does the "digital front door" of the church's website  create an expectation that we are ready and anticipating guests? Are directions and service times immediately accessible and is the site mobile ready? If someone were to call the church, does the phone recording include directions and service times?   

#2 Travel to Location: Do guests know where to turn into your church location? Don't underestimate how important it is to put temporary or permanent signage alerting the first time guest where to turn well in advance to the entrance itself.  

#3 Parking Lot: Do guests know where to park? Do you have dedicated space just for your guests? 

#4 Building Entrance: Do guests know which door to enter? Do you have clear front door, a funky side door, or hidden back door? 

#5 Children's Ministry: Do guests know where to take their kids? How simple, easy and obvious is the check-in process? How long does the walk take for the various age and stage ministries?  

#6 Welcome Center: Do guests know where to go for more information? Do you have a clearly designated "Welcome Center"? How well motivated and trained are people working at the designated place to get more info? 

#7 Worship: Do guests know which door to enter? Is the main entrance obvious?  

If you are interested in taking your team through assessment and solution development around these seven checkpoints, we have a great FREE download to use called The 7 Checkpoints of an Engaging Guest Experience.

Also, learn more about our upcoming 2-day Guest Experience Bootcamps. We have three events in three different cities in 2018!

About Will

Would you like more meaningful progress in your church? 

I want you and your ministry to experience the benefits of stunning, God-given clarity. As a pastor turned vision coach, I’ve worked with an unprecedented variety of churches from growing mega-churches and missional communities, to mainline revitalization and church plants. I have the privilege of being the founder of Auxano, a church consulting group and Younique, a personal vision and life planning training company for the church. Most people know me from two of several books that I have authored: Church Unique: How Missional Leaders Cast Vision and Create Movement and God Dreams: 12 Templates for Finding and Focusing Your Church's Future.

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Will Mancini