The importance of understanding church guests has grown every year as I consult with churches. In fact, every month for over a decade, the Auxano team conducts[...]
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? Maybe the better question is "What would it 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 10 years I have observed and analyzed over 200 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.
THE SEVEN CHECKPOINTS
#1 Before Departure: Are directions and service times immediately accessible to guests from your church website, phone recording and yellow pages?
#2 Travel to Location: Do guests know where to turn into your church location?
#3 Parking Lot: Do guests know where to park?
#4 Building Entrance: Do guests know which door to enter?
#5 Children's Ministry: Do guests know where to take their kids?
#6 Welcome Center: Do guest know where to go for more information?
#7 Worship: Do guests know which door to enter?
I look forward to sharing more tools and resources related to my work here. If this is something you are interested in, please leave a comment. Also, let me know what great resources you have found to help with church welcoming ministries or guest services.