Published: 6 years ago

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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  1. Anonymous says:

    Did Sean Allen call you again Danny! Hope you are well, robin

  2. Caleb Batts says:


    I have been given a the task to work on our hospitality and first impressions and get it updated. I just joined staff a couple of weeks ago, so I don’t want to go to crazy to right out of the gate. What would be a good starting point and what should go into a guest services table?

    • Danny says:

      Caleb, those are great questions! For your table, I’d recommend that you check out this post as well as this post, which details how we have ours set up.

      As far as a starting point for your team structure, I would advise that you figure out your stakeholders first. Who are those people who have put blood, sweat, and tears into the team in the months or years before your arrival? Who are the ones that show incredible skill at hospitality and organization? Those are your key people you want to invest in, share vision with, and learn from. Do a lot of listening – to your stakeholders, your guests, and your surrounding community and culture. You’ll spend at least a year getting a feel for what the needs are, and in some ways needs will drive structure.

      A fresh vision for this team will attract volunteers your way. Helping the church understand that guest services isn’t just a part of what you do – but a part of who you are – will lend itself to raising up new vols for the team.

      Keep this “structuring” blog post in the back of your mind. It may work, it may not, but hopefully it’ll give you a jumping-off point for some ideas!

  1. […] 1. Define your areas where you need leaders. Don’t settle for the easy route, “Well, we just need ’em everywhere.” While there may be a hint of truth to that, look at it more strategically. Develop an org chart for your ministry area. Develop levels and layers of leadership. Look at all of the tasks you perform on a regular basis and figure out how you can give those away to a new leader. Our model is Campus Director > Shift Leaders > Team Leaders > Team Members, and our goal is that no one has more than 8-15 people that they are leading. Related post: Structuring Your First Impressions Team. […]

  2. […] the pre-launch services, I identified potential names to serve as shift leaders and team leaders, but asked Corey to make the final decision once he came on board. We immediately invited his two […]

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