The importance of understanding church guests has grown every year as I consult with churches. In fact, for almost two decades I've conducted ministry observations during weekend services. I call it[...]
For over 20 years, I’ve believed in the power of the first impressions ministry for the church. And through the various consulting organizations I’ve been a part of during that time, we’ve helped hundreds of churches upgrade their first impressions.
If you want to be more effective in pursuing your mission—more effective in reaching people with the gospel message of Jesus—you must have an intentional first impressions ministry. An investment into first impressions is an investment into every other ministry in your church—it’s one of the few areas where you can increase your effectiveness across the board as a church. It’s a non-negotiable.
An investment into first impressions is an investment into every other ministry in your church.
To guide church teams in evaluating the first impression they’re making with guests, I’ve created a tool where you can rate your first impressions with 14 metrics.
Guests may represent years of prayer, relationship-building, and service from faithful members of your church.
We’ve identified seven checkpoints in the guest flow (the process of a guest coming to your church for the first time) that can become significant barriers to a great guest experience. These seven checkpoints move a guest from being at home on the left side of the chart to being at church and engaged in worship on the right side of the chart.
At each checkpoint, you should evaluate your guest experience with two lenses. The first lens is clarity communication. Can the guest easily find the information they need? As you move from left to right through the guest experience, this is going to include an evaluation of your website, your onsite signage, and the members of your first impressions team.
The second lens is related to warmth and feel. Not only do you want to provide guests with all the information they need, you want to deliver that information in a manner that feels warm and relational. Both aspects of the guest experience are critical to its effectiveness.
You can see at the top of the chart that the goal at each checkpoint is that the guest flow is simple, easy, and obvious—leveraging hospitality that creates a “Wow!” experience for each guest. On the bottom of the chart is the opposite experience, when the guest flow is complex, confusing, and frustrating—creating a “Someone help me now!” experience for guests.
The guest flow should be simple, easy, and obvious at every checkpoint along the way, creating a “Wow!” experience for each guest at your church.
With your team, evaluate each of the seven checkpoints on this 1-5 scale, with 1 being complex, confusing, and frustrating and 5 being simple, easy, and obvious. You may want to go through this process twice—once for your in-person services and once for your online experience. In the new COVID-19 reality, your online experience is just as important as your in-person service.
We’ve used this simple tool hundreds of times to guide church teams to a moment of breakthrough clarity of what needs to change in their guest experience. It quickly becomes crystal clear where you need to focus time, effort, and resources to significantly improve your guest flow, empowering you to make a plan for the specific steps you’ll take together to make things better.
First impressions can be a game changer for your church. The good news is that if you’ll make it a priority, you can dramatically upgrade the initial experience people have with your church—which allows you to reach them for Jesus and invite them into a life of mission and purpose. Don’t let your first impression get in the way of what’s most important—seeing lives transformed by the power of the gospel of Jesus.
Check out the First Impressions Conference, coming up Nov 4-6, 2020. It’s a virtual event this year and it will be packed with great content! As one of the speakers, I’ll go into more detail about why First Impressions is so important and how this tool can benefit your church.
If you want to join hundreds of churches who have invested in a secret worshipper guest evaluation, including a digital or live steaming evaluation, fill out a simple form here.