Church Guest Experience Proposal
By: Danielle Wingate
I recently went through a study by Priscilla Shirer, Armor of God. (Highly recommend it!) Early on in the study she commented, “Christianity has become quite comfortable. Coffee shops in church lobbies. Shuttles from the parking lot to the sanctuary on rainy days. Games to entertain our children in Sunday School…”
The content for the day of this study was circling around Satan’s tactics to “distract, discourage, and divide us from others while disabling us from experiencing everything that is rightfully ours as adopted members of God’s family. We as Christians have become lazy—not being alert and on guard for the small distractions and the attacks of the enemy.” I can’t disagree.
While I agree, Shirer’s opening comment rocked me. My focus and passion in the church is the Guest Experience. So if my approach has always been geared toward the guest in the church, yet I agree with the opening statement and the lazy approach and engagement in Christianity, then where does that leave me?
The difference between a church and a business is that people in a church want an excellent, secure, undistracted and welcoming experience, yet they stay for the relationships they have within the church and the vision of it. People in business want the same thing, but they continue coming back because of the next-level service offered as they grow in loyalty to that company.
The challenge is that the audience is the same.
The guest experience still needs to be a priority for the visitors. They need to see excellence modeled in love and a relatable place that they can be part of and grow with. What if our language and approach changed so that the members felt more empowered to be the church, not just spectators and consumers of it?
A lot of change—I know. And no it doesn’t happen overnight and may not even happen in the next six months. But small steps forward will help your guest experience transform and will make all the difference in your church.
Here is what I propose:
- 1. Have a team member over the first time guest experience—all of it. Everything including website verbiage, parking signage, parking experience, the connection card process, the follow up interaction, membership class, kids first-time guest check-in and follow up experience…all of it. Why? It’s important for one person to have a consistent focus, voice and fluid thought process on everything that touches a first time guest. Our goal is to get them to take the next step and be part of the church family. To be engaged with the vision and mission of the church as they grow in their walk with Christ. Excellence and consistency in all areas speaks more than you know.
- 2. Identify a second team member to oversee the experience getting guests connected. After a guest has gone through the membership process what happens to them? What is the next best step? How do they get plugged into a small group, volunteer serving team, missions team or anything else? Where do you as a church want their next step to be? Why? People are a big deal and it’s imperative to create focus and intentionality in helping everyone be known and valued as they take the next step in their walk with Christ.
As both team members and their teams start down their path of refining processes and touch points, this is where you can begin to introduce verbiage to define and engage church members at a different level. “You are part of the family and this is your house, wipe down the counters in the bathroom, pick up the trash, take someone a meal in your small group, etc.”
Society and my amazing millennial generation are going to feed the instant gratification in all aspects, but I can’t help but agree with Priscilla. We are the church. We set the example. We respond to a higher calling and more than ever we have to be on alert and engage every single guest and member that this is a place you can belong and that you will find authentic community here, but there is a battle and we can’t get comfortable and remain silent with the way of the world anymore.
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