If you hang around me for about seven minutes or so, you’ll immediately recognize two things: 1. I’m a big fan of Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs. You don’t necessarily need to do anything with that information, except realize that Easter is here and it’s the one time of year that you could buy Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs and there’s a verse in the Old Testament that says “Bring all ye Peanut Butter Eggs into the storehouse of thine Connections Pastor” and by the way those little tiny Peanut Butter Eggs you get at a warehouse club are about half chocolate, half peanut butter, so don’t bother with those.
And 2, whenever I talk about First Impressions, I believe it’s important to note that the Why is more important than the What. I believe it’s so important that I say it just about every time I talk to our volunteer team, and they’ve heard it so many times that they’re ready to cross stitch that saying into a lovely wall hanging, and then present it to me in the form of slamming it down over my skull.
The premise of the Why is as follows: you can spend weeks (years?) training a guest services team member to be prepared for the “what” of any situation: crying baby, irritated person who doesn’t want to sit where we ask ’em to, Methodist terrorist cells, etc. You can have checklists a half a mile long and a notebook full of case studies and contingency plans. But until they understand why they’re doing the job (to lay the foundation for the gospel), they’ll simply never get it.
But there’s another layer to the Why/What conundrum, and that’s the Who. I believe you can get the right Who who understands the Why and you can train them for the What. (And I Don’t Know is on third.)
Last week I was talking to a guy who has virtually no first impressions experience, at least in the church world. But it was immediately obvious that he was a Who that already understood the Why. He valued people. He understood how to make them feel valued. And he knew that the end game was not a good parking spot or a hot cup of coffee, but a distraction-free worship experience that pointed people towards the gospel.
Those are the Whos that you want to have on your team. Those are the Whos that you unapologetically steal from other ministries, set a huge vision in front of them, and then turn them loose to run after it.
It’s that Who that you want to pursue.
As you seek out new volunteers or volunteer leaders, don’t look for the ones who are most prone to follow a checklist. Look for the ones who could handily do the job without a checklist, for they’re the best Who to do what you need ’em to do.