It’s pretty easy for us to think about what we think about when we think about the weekend experience at our churches. (Feel free to re-read that sentence. I won’t be offended.)
After all, they’re our experiences. We gather together on a regular basis. We catch up with our long-time friends. We walk through the same old doors, sit in the same old seats, and – for the most part – experience a familiar, somewhat predictable, unsurprising service.
Not so with our first time guests. Whereas we’re seeing it for the 500th time, they’re seeing it for the first. If we’re old pros, they’re rookies. And so, while it can be difficult to look at the weekend through the eyes of a guest, it’s necessary. It’s necessary for your guests, because if we don’t steward their first visit well, they may not come back. And it’s necessary for us, because it helps us to remain nimble and humble in reaching our community for the gospel.
Here are six questions you can think about when you’re thinking about the weekend:
Do guests know when you meet? Are service times posted clearly on the website? Are the times on the church marquee out by the road still accurate?
Do guests know where you meet? Do all online mapping services lead to your gathering spot? If you’re mobile, is their maps app taking them to the weekend worship service, or to your rented weekday office space?
Do guests know what to do when they show up? Is the signage clear? Where do they park? How do they get into the building? Where do they drop off their kids? Do you even have something for their kids?
Do guests know what to do when they get inside? Can they sit just anywhere? Are there sections or seats that are off limits? Are all parts of the service for them, or are some things restricted? If they want or need more information, who should they ask?
Do guests know that people care about them? Is it obvious that you’ve planned the weekend with them in mind? Do you have a way for them to self-identify? Have you made sure the facility is clean? Are your people actually talking to strangers they don’t know?
Do guests know what’s next? Have you answered the “So what?” and “Now what?” questions? Are there resources to help them go further in their journey? Is there an event or a place they can go to find out more?
Every weekend is somebody’s first weekend. And chances are better than average that you’re going to have a few outsiders trying to get inside this Sunday. How will they view their experience?
Posted on September 24, 2021
Danny Franks is the Pastor of Guest Services at The Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina, and the author of People Are the Mission: How Churches Can Welcome Guests Without Compromising the Gospel. Read more from Danny at www.dfranks.com
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