The Rock Church of Greater Portland (Scarborough, Maine)
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.
Mark Johnson is the Executive Pastor at The Rock Church of Greater Portland in Scarborough, Maine. TRC is a non-denominational church in the ARC Network. Described as “a church for the One and for everyone,” TRC ran just under 1,000 pre-COVID.
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 Host Team volunteers?
Over the last few months we’ve been asking the question What should this look like? a lot.
Our onboarding starts as a conversation. We ask where they want to serve, but more importantly, why they want to serve. I take them back to their first experience at TRC, help them remember how they felt (good or bad), and we start from there.
Then I hand them off to a coordinator or team lead for more information. They get enough info to start serving (utilizing a one-sheet best practices for mission and vision for their specific area), and then we schedule a 30-days-later debrief. Our purpose in this is content and context: we want to give them the content they need on the front end, then use the debrief to add context.
How is your Host Team structured? Do you ever release your volunteers to lead in other ministries?
Pre-COVID, our team averaged 20-30 per service, max. Since COVID, we’ve moved to an every-other weekend rotation.
All of our volunteers serve under me. We have a lead team of coordinators, leading the greeters, ushers, cafe, etc. Then we have a team-based ministry leader for each service. In our model, the lead team runs logistics and training while the ministry leader has more of a relational and spiritual support side.
Talk about your assimilation process. What specific steps do you have to move someone from first-time guest to follower of Jesus?
Because we are a church for the one, we acknowledge our first-time guests from stage and give them specific steps to take. Each guest has the opportunity to fill out a Connections Card and drop by Connections Central. (This is a newer space with a longer term goal to become a big piece of assimilation.
Our immediate goal for the first-time guest is to get them to Growth Track.
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?
All of our staff team recognizes the value, the tricky part is making sure we’re running the same play. We don’t want our kids team to have one first-time guest experience, students another, etc. We want the alignment to bring similar language and processes.
What is one of your best practices / ministry hacks that you’re especially happy with?
I’ve realized I’ll never find the perfect person who can do logistics, discipleship, and relationships all in one. So for me, letting our leaders find their fit and specialize in their thing has been a huge win. That’s part of where the lead team vs. team-based ministry leader idea came from.
This gives a team approach, but also allows the person to have connection with multiple leaders rather than just one.
What is a challenge you’re currently facing on your Host Team?
Obviously, COVID. Just getting people to come back to serve is a big challenge.
What has been one of the biggest mistakes you’ve made in leading your team and/or implementing a guest services culture?
I came into a church with a long history, different leaders, and several changes. A friend told me “The biggest change they’re getting used to is you.” As I got to know them (and vice versa), that was the biggest help. Sharing my heart behind the team and the changes I had planned helped them move ahead.
How do you define success on a weekend…either personally or professionally?
Anytime I don’t have to fill in for a no-show volunteer. Better yet, when I’m not actually scheduled for a role so that I’m able to be fully present, in the lobby, connecting with team members and guests.
What is an idea you’d like to experiment with or implement over the next six months?
Our Connnection Central (mentioned above) is a new space that I have big plans for. We’re working on a big roll out now.
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