Structuring Your First Impressions Team
Yesterday I received an email from a pastor who is trying to revamp the guest services ministry at his church. He asked the “structure” question: How do you have your team organized? Since that’s a question I don’t think I’ve ever dealt with in a full post, I thought I’d give it a shot here.
Keep in mind that – while we want our teams to be structured similarly at all campuses – each campus may look slightly different depending on size. Your church will, too. The structure below should be adjusted based on congregation size, number of worship services you offer, and the total number of guest services sub-teams (Parking, Outer Entry, Coffee Bar, etc.) that you plan for.
First Impressions Director. This is the man or woman that oversees everything at a campus level. If you’re a single-site church, this is the pastor responsible for overseeing guest services. The FI Director is ultimately responsible for everything from identifying and training new volunteers to setting vision to troubleshooting problems to…everything else. They’re the point person, so they need to eat, drink, and breathe hospitality on a heart level. It has to be part of their DNA.
Shift Leader. The person who directly oversees each service time. Most of our campuses will have 2-4 shift leaders. We invest heavily in these people, because they are the feet on the ground that carry out the vision and instill it in Team Leaders. Shift Leaders make sure that their team is adequately staffed, Team Leaders have all the resources they need, and they ensure cohesion between all sub-teams. In addition, they handle the oversight of all of the service “systems,” such as offering collection, resource table inventory, etc.
Team Leader. Much of our guest service “secret sauce” rises and falls on this crew. A great Team Leader will empower and lead a great team. And a bad Team Leader? Well, you don’t want a bad Team Leader. Team Leads are chosen first on their servant ability. We don’t put someone in that position just because they say they can lead. We look for people who are already serving with a humble, teachable spirit – preferably on that specific team – and see who is already following them. A Team Lead has to be able to switch from “do” to “delegate” – a task that’s not as easy as it sounds. They are not responsible for carrying out the task each week, but responsible for leading the team to carry it out. That means a tremendous amount of coaching, vision casting, correction, and encouragement. They also function as the shepherd of the group. If a Team Member is sick, hurting, or AWOL, we expect the Team Leads to know it and respond accordingly.
Team Member. Every team is made up of 8-15 people on average. We divide our teams up into “sub-team” categories. Again, every campus is different, but the typical representation is Set Up, Tear Down, Parking, Outer Entry, First Time Guests, Next Steps, Auditorium Entry, Auditorium Seaters, and Auditorium Greeters. Depending on campus size, some of these teams may be combined. Every Team Member is required to go through a two week orientation: week one is a 75 minute classroom setting where we cast vision, define our plumblines, and assess the best fit for the team. Week two is hands-on training, where Team Members are matched with their potential Team Leader in a shadowing capacity.
Breaking our teams down in this way helps to ensure that no one person is responsible for too large of a span of care. We don’t want to overwhelm a FI Director by making them shoulder the load for 50 or more people. In this system, every person has a small number of people that they are responsible for.
Now, that’s our model. I’ve seen other churches have equal or better success by structuring their teams differently. The point is, you should know your structure, and your teams should know your structure. Everyone should know who their “shepherd” is. It makes for a better volunteer culture when people know who’s there to serve them when the questions and needs arise.
Have a guest services question? I’d love to collaborate with you. Leave a comment below.
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