Published: 6 years ago

Why We Say “Attend One, Serve One”

On our First Impressions Team at the Summit, we try to get by with just a very few rules: never be rude to a guest. Serve where you’re wired.

Never feed ’em after midnight.

But there’s one rule of thumb that we encourage at every turn. We talk about it when you start to serve on the team. We talk about it when you go through training. We talk about it every few months as seasoned team members go through some refresher training.

It’s the rule of “attend one, serve one.” Attend and fully engage in one service, then serve and fully engage in another. There are four reasons why we promote that:

  1. It creates a better experience for the guest. If there’s one thing that our guests’ arrival time has in common, it is that there’s nothing in common. We have people who show up 20 minutes early, people who drag in 20 minutes late, and people who will get there right on time. Having a fully-functioning team for an entire service allows us to greet guests regardless of when they drop in.
  2. It allows a better experience for the volunteer. A volunteer who’s asked to serve and attend the same service is a disjointed volunteer. They are never sure when the cutoff time is where they can go into the worship service. They’re always “on call” throughout the service. They always feel like they’re missing something in the service. And they are never…never…able to balance that schedule in a way that works for them, or for the demands of their role.
  3. It gives consistency across the board. There’s not much that’s sadder than a church that pulls out all the stops for the “:15 before” crowd, and then just…stops…for the “:15 after” crowd. We’ve found that the guests who are late are usually late for a good reason: stalled car, cranky kid, WWIII marital battle before church. If anyone needs a good first impression, it’s those folks.
  4. It creates space for a stronger team. We obviously don’t need a 100% staffed team for 100% of the service time. That’s why 20-30 minutes into the service we scale back to a skeleton crew. Roughly 20% of our team will stay in place to cover the necessary bases, and the rest of the team will retreat to “Volunteer Headquarters” (VHQ) for food and conversation. It’s a brief oasis from a busy morning that allows relationships to foster…something that can’t always happen when you attend and serve the same service.

I recognize that’s just one model. It’s just our model. If your church only has one worship service, that’ll make it considerably harder for people to attend one, serve one. Some churches with multiple weekend service ask volunteers to serve every service, but serve one weekend every 4-6 weeks. The point is not the model, the point is determining how you allow for the four principles outlined above.

Oh, and how about those that just can’t attend one, serve one? How about people with unpredictable work schedules or folks who depend on others for a ride? Well, we have allowances for those cases (but don’t tell anyone at the Summit I told you that). However, they are allowances…not the rule. We do everything we can to give people an opportunity to serve, as much as they can serve. But we always challenge them back to the four principles above, and we always push back against the perception of “I’m too busy.”

What’s your model? And what are the holes you see in this one? Comment below.


(photo credit: Brett Seay)

  1. D. M. says:

    Do you ask folks to serve every week for a certain amount of time, every other week, etc?

    • Danny says:

      Great question, Damon. Yes, currently, we ask all volunteers to serve every week. And of course, they serve a full service (typically the shift time works out to be about two hours). Again, we will make some exceptions in special cases, but this allows us to raise the bar of the guest-friendly culture.

  1. […] are as many ways to schedule volunteers as there are volunteers. We adhere to an “attend one, serve one” strategy: volunteers serve for one service every week, and they attend the other. Our Summit […]

  2. […] model: there are a lot of “big asks” at the end of a training: attend one, serve one. Commit to a weekly schedule. Serve outside of your comfort zone. We set the bar high so the […]

  3. By Danny Franks | Own It & On It on August 4, 2015 at 7:02 am

    […] Think about the dynamics of a very small church: you’re likely meeting in a community center or a storefront. Signage probably doesn’t top the list of budgeting priorities. And to top it off, you only offer one service, which means there’s no option of attend one, serve one. […]

  4. By Danny Franks | Putting in Your Time on September 15, 2015 at 7:01 am

    […] serving on the guest service team. You’ve put in your time. You’ve committed to attend one, serve one. And now that you’ve served one, you’re ready to attend one. So the name tag comes off, […]

  5. By Danny Franks | Why You Need a VHQ on June 22, 2016 at 8:30 am

    […] One of our values for our First Impressions team is “Attend One, Serve One.” We want our volunteers to be able to fully engage in worship in one service, then fully engage by serving in another service. It creates a better environment all the way around: better for the health of our team, and better for the experience of our guests. Certainly, A1S1 poses a problem if you only have one service time, but for churches with multiple service options, we’ve found it to be very effective. (For more on A1S1, check out this post.) […]

  6. […] Whenever possible, add two services instead of one. You’re already doing this, which is great. I mention it to readers here because of the value in attending one, serving one. […]

  7. […] Encourage play during off-peak times. If you push an attend one, serve one model, there is usually a good bit of downtime where volunteers don’t have to be hyper […]

  8. […] never been asked to attend one, serve one. Can’t I just do my thing for five minutes and head into the […]

  9. […] at the church one more time. Because of that, we utilize our Volunteer Headquarters (VHQ) and our Attend One / Serve One goal in order to give them some just-in-time training. (Oh, and we keep it short. Usually no more […]

  10. By Q&A: Should We Have a Volunteer Huddle? - Danny Franks on November 1, 2017 at 9:30 am

    […] you subscribe to an attend one, serve one strategy, you have one of the best tools available to make your huddle great again. Once the […]

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  12. […] people new to the Summit. We also faced the challenge of only having a single service each week, so attend one, serve one was […]

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