You’ve probably heard the stat – the top two reasons people pick a church:
1. How friendly are you?
2. What do you have to offer my kids?
Being friendly is definitely important. I’m sure you have greeters at your doors just like everyone else does. But having cookie-cutter greeters at each door who say a canned “Good morning, welcome, good to see you,” etc. doesn’t make your church friendly.
To be truly effective in this area, you must move beyond friendly to personal. People don’t want to just be greeted with a smile…they want to be known personally.
We have several gas stations near our house. We normally get the canned “How are you today?’ greeting and the “Thank you, have a great day” goodbye.
But there is one gas station we normally pick above the other ones. Why? Because the cashier there moved beyond friendly to personal with our family. When we come in, she asks my son how his basketball season is going? Why didn’t he get what he normally chooses for breakfast? How is he doing in school?
You can pick canned responses out in a moment. She doesn’t have any.
When kids and parents come to your church, is it just surface friendly? Once people get past the greeting at the door, are they known personally? That is what they long for.
Here’s 10 ways to move beyond friendly to personal in your children/family ministry.
1. Recognize birthdays. Send kids a personal card on their birthday. Ask them to bring it to church, announce publicly to everyone that it is their birthday, and celebrate the person. You can do this inside the classroom or in a common area. We do it in the hallway before or after the service. We use a speaker system that runs through the entire children’s building. We announce the child’s birthday and then everyone stops and cheers for him/her.
2. Take time to get to know people. Find out about their background, their work, their interests, etc Mention these things when you talk with them.
3. Get people involved in Small Groups. Our children are in Small Groups of 8-10 kids. Inside these groups they are known and cared for by a personal leader. If you’re only doing a large group format, you’re missing a great opportunity to move from friendly to personal
4. Meet outside the 4 walls of the church. This past weekend dozens of our Small Group Leaders met their group of kids/parents at a local bowling alley. It was awesome seeing them taking friendly and making it personal. There’s something about connecting outside the walls of the church that takes this to a whole new level. We do this at least twice a year with our Small Group Leaders and their kids/parents.
5. Send personal notes. Make it part of your weekly task list. In this day of digital communication, a handwritten note speaks volumes. Include, a specific detail about why you appreciate the person.
6. Invite people over to your home. Plan it. Fire up the grill. Get some game boards out.
7. Remember people’s names and call them by name. If you’re like me, you can’t remember everyone’s name. But you can work on it. Start with a handful of people and keep adding to the list. Learn techniques for remembering names.
8. Find things you have in common with people. I am big Dallas Cowboys fan. I know most of the people at our church who are Cowboy’s fans as well. We talk about this common interest nearly every week. Last fall, some of us even flew to Dallas to watch a game together. This has definitely moved our relationship from just friendly to personal.
9. Spend time talking with people. Our church has an indoor playground. After services,this is where I hang out. It’s a great place to connect with parents, learn about their life journey, and move from friendly to personal. During the weekend is not the time to be stuck in an office over a computer. Get out and get to know people personally.
10. Remember the 200 rule. The 200 rules says that you can only personally know about 200 people in a church no matter the size of the church. Sometimes you will have people say they like a “small church” feel. What they are saying is they want to be known personally. If you are a larger church then that can still happen. You simply have to get these people connected in a circle of those 200 people. This can be done by joining a Small Group, being part of a specific ministry, consistently serving with a group of people, going on a mission’s trip, etc.
The larger your children’s ministry/church becomes…the smaller it must become. Friendliness is not enough…it must be personal.
What are some ideas you use to make your church/ministry not just friendly… but personal?