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. We have observed and analyzed over 500 churches while conducting a "secret worshipper" experience. It is a service at Pivvot 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 guests decide within 11 minutes whether or not they are coming back to your church.

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#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 of 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 a 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 where guests can get more info?

#7 Worship Service: 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 Seven Clarity Checkpoints.

And if you'd like to find out more about having a Guest Perspective Evaluation done at your church and the other ways the Pivvot team can partner with you, visit ChurchPivvot.com.