One of the beautiful things about serving guests well can eventually become the death knell of a good first impression. Think about it: if you structure your church to treat guests as an honored participant in your weekend service, the word will spread. They’ll tell their friends, and their friends will come. And if their friends come, you’ll treat them well, they’ll tell friends, and their friends will come.
It’s a great problem to have, until you realize that your guest service process has gotten to be…well…a process. And while I’m all for process (as dozens I mean hundreds of posts on this blog will attest), process can feel more mechanical and less personal.
So how do you fight against that? How do you keep your guests feeling like they are genuinely a guest, and that you genuinely care about their experience?
In his excellent book Raving Fans, Ken Blanchard offers this counsel: “Most customers have a focus. You have to find that focus and then mine it for information. The narrower the focus, the more important that vision is to the customer.”
So what does that mean for our worlds? It means that your guests approach your church with a “What’s in it for me?” mentality. I’ve addressed that before, and I’d also point you to Mark Waltz’s excellent defense of consumerism in First Impressions.
But the truth is, guests come in asking that question. And so you have to be prepared. “What’s in it for me?” might mean they want to know if your church is a place where their kids can find values, where their marriage can be healed, where their lives can find purpose. The answer to all of those things is an introduction to the gospel, but you have to start with the question they’re asking.
So this weekend, listen for your guests’ focus. Figure out what their vision is so you can appropriately apply a gospel vision.