This is part four in the Five Plumb Lines series. Jump to the other posts at the bottom of the page.
Make it personal.
I don’t care what size your church is. You can be a mega church, a micro church, a rural church, a city church, or a little church with a big heart (feel free to use that on your business card. I’m sure you’d be the first). Every single weekend, someone is going to walk in the doors for the first time, and that someone will feel like an outsider.
It’s natural. We’re all outsiders the first time we show up somewhere. Whether it’s the hot new restaurant or the coveted new job, there’s a learning curve to master. We have to get to know the menu or learn how to order or figure out which hallway leads you out of the cubicles and towards the bathrooms.
But one of the roles of the First Impressions team is to do everything we can to take outsiders and make them feel like family from the very first visit. Now, there’s a catch to that: you have to do this in an appropriate, non-creepy fashion. Think of it as a first date. On the first date, you ask questions, you get to know the person, you reveal appropriate things about yourself. You do not name your future children together or pick out china patterns. That’s creepy.
In the same way, you give guests appropriate, immediate, practical next steps: this is where you can check in your kids. This is where you park. This event is how you can find out more.
We do this by crafting each experience to make it personal to our guests, and we do this in two ways:
1. Make it personal for the masses.
That’s an oxymoron if you’ve ever heard one. But humor me here: we know that every weekend, crowds of people are showing up to your church. Some are coming for the first time, some for the 500th time. We want to make sure that our signage, traffic patterns, building layout, and volunteer presence helps people get where they’re going seamlessly. We know that not everyone is going to the same place, but everyone is going some place.
2. Make it personal for the person.
I believe that every weekend, you have the chance to take a stranger and turn them into a friend. You do this by pausing to hear their story, and then helping them suggesting personalized next steps to help them along their journey. For some guests, it’ll be a newcomers event. For others, it’ll be a small group or a ministry team or a counseling appointment or a gospel conversation.
We want to make it personal because your guests don’t care how they become a covenant member if they’re visiting for the first time. They may not care (or know) that you want them to be in a small group. They simply want to keep it simple: parking. Seating. Kids. “Is this a place I want to return to?”
Think about the facets of your weekend experience that makes someone feel like an outsider. Break down those barriers. Make it personal. Make ’em an insider. Make ’em a part of the family.
Check out the rest of the Plumb Lines series: