Regular attendees may know to go up to the check-in kiosk and enter their phone number or swipe their card, but guests will be clueless and need a manned station that is clearly marked for guests with a volunteer to walk them through the registration. Then have that person or another helper walk you to your kid’s class, explaining what will be going on and how to go about picking their kids back up. If they must have a sticker with corresponding numbers on it to get their kids, this needs to be explained to them.
Signage for the kids check-in should start in the entryway of the guest parking. Do not assume people know where to go once they enter the building.
5. Give It Away
Something subtle but powerful is a church that has a generous spirit. Chris Hodges at Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, Ala., is big on this. They have a coffee shop, but they also have a designated area where people can get free coffee and not pay anything. They also give away their message CDs.
Too many churches charge for everything and wonder why no one buys CDs of the message. If you want to bless people and create a generous spirit throughout your church, give away free coffee and message CDs (and other surprises throughout the year).
Chris Hodges will have ice cream trucks pull up outside the church doors and give away free ice cream to congregants leaving on a hot, summer day.
6. Security Counts
One issue that is huge to a secret shopper and visiting families is security. If a parent is worried about their child’s safety, they will not enjoy the service and will likely not return.
A children’s classroom must be clean, safe and secure. Security also includes the check-out process. If anyone can walk into a classroom and pick up a kid, you’re asking for trouble and will turn off potential newcomers. It’s important that your kids’ volunteers are trained well and know to ask for the parent’s sticker when picking up their kids.
This is vital and goes a long way to ensuring a tragedy doesn’t occur and a parent has peace of mind.
7. The Visible Pastor
Accessibility of the senior pastor is another subtle and powerful statement of a church. Even pastors of the largest churches in America make an intentional and strategic effort to be seen, greeted and hugged after a service. They may have a bodyguard present for security reasons, but they are available and willing to pray with people that need to speak to their pastor.
Some churches have a designated “Guest Central,” like Steve Stroope at Lake Pointe in Rockwall, Texas, or Brady Boyd at New Life in Colorado Springs. Some have a “Meet and Greet,” like Charles Hill in Utah. Some pastors stand down at the altar and meet and pray with people, like Kevin Myers at 12Stone in Atlanta. Some walk around the campus shaking hands, like Don Wilson at Christ’s Church of the Valley in Phoenix.
Erwin McManus at Mosaic LA has an “After Party,” at which the pastor is present and available to meet with newcomers. This, especially in a large church, goes a long way toward countering the rock star or unavailable pastor stigma that so many guests walk into the church expecting.
8. Finish Strong
It’s simply not enough for greeters and parking lot attendants to say “Hello” or “Welcome” when one walks into their church. To go to another level, have your first impressions team stationed at their posts when the service ends to say “Goodbye” or “Have a nice week.”
This goes a long way to wrapping a bow around the entire morning experience and will send them off with a lasting positive impression.
Do these eight things and you’ll see a greater return and higher percentage of second- and third-time guests come back to church.