Riverside Church (Big Lake, Minnesota)
Each month, we revisit a series of posts called Guest Services Road Trip. We’ll travel the country from the comforts of our couches, interviewing leaders who are in the trenches of ministry. Do you have an idea for GSRT destination? Have a leader I need to talk to? Want the inside scoop on churches that seem to be doing this hospitality thing really well? Let’s talk.
Glen McKinney is the Connections Pastor at Riverside Church in Big Lake, Minnesota. Riverside has two campuses and sees a weekly attendance of 2,000 people.
What are the top three books you’ve read on the topic of guest services and/or volunteer culture?
What does your training process look like for your Guest Services volunteers?
Our training process is an experiential one. We offer what’s called a “First Serve.” An individual will serve along side another teammate for their first crack at things. You are there more as an observer, and are encouraged to participate as you feel engaged to do so. Very much a “I do, you watch…you help, if you feel like you’re clicking with it.”
From there a follow up survey is offered to glean the good, bad, and ugly from the new “First Serve” volunteer. If it’s a good fit, we plug them into the schedule, if not, we encourage a different avenue for serving.
Our Guest Services team has a Vision / Why playbook we all follow called the B.L.U.E. Book.
Be Ready. Today could be someone’s first steps towards Jesus.
Listen. What are guests saying through words as well as actions?
Understand why. It’s not just what we do and how, it’s why we do it.
Every Story Matters. Every number has a name, every name has a story, and every story matters to God.
Each team has their own set of “BLUE points” pertaining to their areas of serving. The ongoing training that is offered all references back to the BLUE book in order to encourage the Vision from the very start.
How is your Guest Services team structured? Do you ever release guest services volunteers to lead in other ministries?
We have two team leads that serve all day in our parking lot and Cafe areas. These key roles ensure that any specifics for that day are translated to the other teams seamlessly for those two areas. The balance of our positions have one leader and a team of folks that serve with them. These teams are not 100% consistent with each other, but they are close.
Our Guest Services areas:
• Parking lot.
• Cafe: complimentary coffee and donuts
• Greeters: doorways and kiosks
• Ushers: interior doors and worship venues
• Venue hosts: monitoring each venue
• Facility Watch Team: keeping an eye on things.
• Guides: give a tour through the building for context and peace of mind.
•.Family Connectors: bridging the gap between Guests and Kids
We have volunteers that serve in multiple areas. While it’s hard to share great leaders, it’s so worth it for the sake of those they lead!
Talk about your assimilation process. What specific steps do you have to move someone from first-time guest to follower of Jesus?
Our assimilation process is quite simple. We encourage people to do “The Big 3:”
1. Come every Sunday
2. Be part of a group
3. Serve others
For guests, we offer a very brief “touch and go” interaction after each service called Launching Point. Every service includes an invitation: “Give us a chance to meet you at Launching Point right after service…” We try to place the emphasis on the guest and the chance to meet them, not the other way around. When we can elevate the guests’ identity, we are loving them already.
We have a goal each year for not only salvations, but for the number of times we give the opportunity for individuals to “say yes to Jesus.” (Typically the vernacular that is used.)
Is guest services a “silo ministry” in your church? In other words, does your discipleship team, kids team, worship team, mission team, etc. view it as an essential part of “their” mission?
Guest services has become something that Riverside is known for. When we receive First Time Guest surveys, one of the prevailing answers to the question of “what did you first notice about Riverside?” is…”How friendly everyone was!”, or, “How welcome I felt.”
I’d have to say the consistent vision casting of BLUE and modeling a hands-on example for our teams has created a culture of hospitality at Riverside. Consistency and servant leadership are two incredibly powerful engines when they meet.
The Guest Services team at Riverside is the largest team we have in the entire church. They love what they get to do each week.
What is one of your best practices / ministry hacks that you’re especially happy with?
The catch phrase on our name tags says, “You matter to God and you matter to us.”
Placing a massive amount of worth on those whom God is drawing to himself by their visit to Riverside is not something that is taken lightly or for granted. Again, the BLUE book reinforces this vision and offers direction to pull it off.
What is a challenge you’re currently facing on your Guest Services team?
We want to expand! Over the course of the next couple of months we will be adding three new roles to the GS team and the BLUE book content:
• The Details Crew: light cleaning and white gloving
• Stealth Greeting: greeting in the worship venues without a name tag. Never looks like “it’s their job”…stealthy! They will be our professional eavesdroppers.
• Venue Hosts: relationship building with those whom become regulars targeting venues specifically.
What has been one of the biggest mistakes you’ve made in leading your team and/or implementing a guest services culture?
We moved from a “serve all day” to a “serve one/worship one” model too abruptly a few years back. As a result, peripheral issues arose that no one foresaw. Ownership was undervalued, teammates felt under-appreciated, etc.
In short, if you need to initiate change, be careful how quickly you do it, and make sure you OVER-communicate “why” you are doing it. Again, the BLUE book helped with those conversations a ton.
How do you define success on a weekend…either personally or professionally?
Success for me on the weekend is that all I need to do is connect with my teammates personally and inquire about their lives and stories. I have nothing task-oriented to do at all. Nothing.
What is an idea you’d like to experiment with or implement over the next six months?
I’d like to experiment with what it would look like to move to a rotation of teams. We have a large number of volunteers serving with Guest Services and we are encroaching on a time where scheduling will need to be revamped yet again to some sort of rotation based model.
We’ll do it slow…and talk about it a lot. 🙂
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