Published: 10 years ago

FI Fridays: Details Matter

Every Friday this fall, I’m doing a series titled “First Impressions Fridays.”  These posts are specifically designed for the First Impressions Teams at all of our campuses, but hey, read it anyway.  You might learn something useful.

This is the ballad of Joe & Fantasia, a couple of first time guests to the Summit.  Joe & Fantasia are totally fictional, which is why I felt the liberty to whip out the moniker of a former American Idol all star.  You just don’t get a chance like this too often.  Here’s what Joe & Fantasia’s fictional visit to the Summit looked like on one recent Sunday…

Fantasia was invited to the Summit by a church member who often stopped by Caribou Coffee, where she works as a barista.  She had invited Fantasia to church several times, and even went so far as to hand her an inviter card.  The card was well-designed, had all the right information, and made Fantasia realize that this church might be worth a try.

Joe saw the inviter card sitting by the phone one Friday night.  He surfed over to the Summit’s website at the suggestion of the web address on the card.  Cool site.  Good info.  “Not what I had in mind about church.”

On that Saturday, Joe suggested that they try the Summit out.  Fantasia was pretty excited that Joe was taking the lead, so she started getting the kids’ clothes prepped and ready to go.

On Sunday morning they pulled up to the Summit.  A team of guys in orange vests were on hand to help them park right up front.  Five star treatment for first time guests?  Cool.

The family walked over to the first time guest tent.  “A free coffee mug?  I wasn’t expecting this.  You’re going to walk me around and show me where to go, rather than pointing me and taking a chance that I’ll get lost?  Awesome.”

One of our volunteers walked Joe, Fantasia, and the kids down to Summit Kids.  They were impressed with the secure check in procedure, impressed with the bright colors along the hallways, impressed with the attention that the teachers paid to their children.

Into the lobby.  Joe made a beeline to the coffee bar.  “Dunkin’ Donuts?  These people didn’t cheap out.  I can carry it in with me?  Nice.”

As the service began, they noticed the plush, extra-wide seats.  They were amazed by the musical skill of the worship team.  The band kicked butt.  Pastor J.D. started to speak, and the message was actually interesting and engaging.  As he shared the gospel at the end, Joe felt something…odd.  Could this religion stuff be getting to him?  Pastor J.D. asked everyone who was making a decision to follow Christ to fill out the tear off card in the worship guide.  No one was more surprised than Joe that he wanted to check that box.

…but he couldn’t.

Because he didn’t have an ink pen.

Oh, there were pens available.  All of the door greeters had pens.  And although they handed Joe a worship guide with that little tear off card, they forgot to give him a pen.  Joe’s decision passed, it grew cold, and by Tuesday he had mostly forgotten about it.

Details?  They matter.  What are you overlooking in your ministry to our guests?

  1. Suz says:

    You know what I get confused about- Where do I put the ink pen when I leave?

  2. Lauren Dyson says:

    Here’s a blog about another church and one person’s interesting first impressions

  3. Phil says:

    i’m unconvinced as to how “cool” the church website is… but your blog is totally COOL……

  4. Zack says:

    Interesting, compelling, thought provoking. And we can all agree that details matter.


    I’m troubled by the climax of the story. The insinuation is that the decision depended entirely on the pen. And the fact that the detail was overlooked somehow led to the reality that by Tuesday Joe was “cold” on Christ.

    I know you, so I doubt that this is the intent. Just don’t want the emphasis on details to be overstated and, as such, serve to minimize the real power behind the “Sunday experience”. You touched on this in a prior set of posts, just pointing it out again for clarity.

    • Danny says:

      Aw, crud, Zack. I knew that was the problem with trying to crank out a blog post ten minutes before I left the office Thursday afternoon. Let me be clear: I do NOT believe that the absence of a pen can supersede the work of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life. The point was that the lack of a pen represents a crucial detail that can derail an otherwise positive experience. I should have chosen my words more carefully, but like all pastoral illustrations, if you carry it too far the universe will implode.

      On the other hand, you have to consider three things:
      1. The pen is mightier than the sword.
      2. The word of God is living and active and sharper than any two edged sword.
      3. Therefore, the lack of a pen can negatively impact the word of God.

      How’s THAT for a theological argument, smart guy?!? 🙂

  5. Zack says:

    That is a simply irrefutable theological argument. Your former seminary professors are no doubt beaming at their prize pupil 🙂

    Thanks for the comment…knew there was no intent and appreciate the analogy. And, of course, the use of the name Fantasia.

  6. Zack says:


    My wife and I had our first Summit experience about a month ago and it was very similar to what you describe here, with a few exceptions…

    We didn’t get any indication to park anywhere other than where we were pointed, so we ended up pretty far away, and had to carry a baby in the rain. When we got close, a nice dude with an umbrella covered my wife and son and walked them to the front door, but he didn’t tell us that the childcare was in a different building, so we actually ended up taking a lap around the sanctuary before we figured things out.

    So, it wasn’t perfectly seamless, but it was top-notch enough — especially the child care — that once we got our bearings, my wife was able to relax and dive into the experience, which made all the difference.

    And, I would like to inform you that upon walking into the sanctuary last week, though my hands were full, a very nice lady actually put a pen in my shirt pocket without even asking if I wanted it.

    Apparently she’s familiar with this story…

    God’s doing awesome stuff at the Summit! I’m excited to see what’s coming!

  7. Shawn Huston says:

    Hi Danny,

    I wanted to share this with you. My wife and I have been attending the Summit for a little over a year now. We recently (3 months ago) were blessed with the newest addition to our family – our daughter Kayleigh. My brother and sister-in-law also recently (about 1 month ago) had a baby and also attend the Summit. This, of course, has meant that my mom and dad have basically spent the whole summer in Raleigh.

    So Sunday morning Lissa and I were running late for church, as usual (we like to blame that on the kids). We walked into the sanctuary carrying our daughter in her pumpkin seat and were directed by the usher exactly where to sit – spots that my mom and dad had saved for us. I was quite simply blown away by the usher knowing exactly where to direct us. He probably knows our faces and my parents’ faces, but still I was amazed by this. It was just a really, really nice touch. We attend the noon service just so you know.


    • Danny says:

      Wow, Shawn. What a cool story! Any chance you know the greeter’s name, or can describe him? That’s the kind of stuff that needs an “attaboy,” and I want to make sure he sees this.

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