Hope Church (Las Vegas, Nevada)
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.
America Stancil (left) is the First Impressions Coordinator and Stacy Jackson (right) is the Director of Ministry Development at Hope Church in Las Vegas, Nevada. Hope is a single-site church, existing to connect people to live the life of a Jesus follower. Pre-covid, Hope saw 4,000 attendees each weekend. At the time of writing (February 2021), they have 1,500 attending in-person, as well as a robust online service.
Their interview took place on the heels of Hope moving into a new building. With that move comes a series of changes to their First Impressions Team and processes, many of which are reflected in their answers below.
What are the top books you’ve read on the topic of guest services and/or volunteer culture?
What does your training process look like for your First Impressions team volunteers?
In onboarding, we take the time to talk to volunteers about what their service experience will look like. This time is highly interactive, giving them the tools they’ll need to be successful. We drive home the truth that they are an ambassador for Hope Church and will be viewed as a leader on our campus.
For ongoing training, we have a thirty minute huddle time every time they serve. We use this time to develop specific skills and their personal development.
How is your First Impressions Team structured?
America oversees the First Impressions Team, which is broken down into sections for the lobby, the worship center, and outside. Each section has two leads per service who give ownership to that area.
Talk about your assimilation process. What specific steps do you have to move someone from first-time guest to follower of Jesus?
This is one major change that is coming as an accompaniment to moving into the new building. We’ve launched a “plan your visit” page on the website, and our goal is that 40% of our first-time guests will use this. When a guest gives us their information on PYV, a team member will call them prior to the service, and a volunteer will meet them when they arrive.
We then want to move a first-time guest to our four week Discovering Hope class. This takes them through who we are, what we believe, a session on connection and engagement (via serving and small groups), an assessment of their own giftings, and finally a celebration. As a part of Discovering Hope, we give them the opportunity to be baptized.
Is First Impressions 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?
(Stacy) The culture of being more of an “aware” staff and family since reopening has been a big help. We’ve emphasized that the person you’re sitting beside could be a first-time guest.
(America) One of my favorite things to hear is a newer person saying “I want to be one of those people in the red shirts!” All of our First Impressions volunteers wear those shirts, so they’re certainly being noticed.
What is one of your best practices / ministry hacks that you’re especially happy with?
(America) We started gathering in person again in June 2020 (Thursdays only) and September, when we added Sunday services. We’ve literally had to rebuild the entire team since we started meeting again.
(Stacy) We’ve revamped our recruiting processes in order to build representation on the team in terms of age and diversity. We’ve also built in systems so that we can be more caring and give personal attention to our volunteers.
What is a challenge you’re currently facing on your First Impressions Team?
We want to move people from a mindset of where I want to serve to where the mission needs me to serve. Moving the rudder to get us to that direction has been a major challenge.
What has been one of the biggest mistakes you’ve made in leading your team and/or implementing a guest services culture?
(America) When I first came on board, it was hard to build relationships with existing leaders. Even with scheduled trainings and get-togethers, it was hard to get to know people and for them to get to know me. Then, of course, covid hit and we couldn’t meet at all.
(Stacy) By nature, I tend to be cautious and evaluate every change, rather than rushing right into something. Some of our team may view that as too slow of a pace.
How do you define success on a weekend…either personally or professionally?
(Stacy) I want to know, “Did everyone get a seat that wanted one?” “Did volunteers lead in a way that was safe?” We say often “People are more important than the process, but the process keeps us safe.” When our volunteers get excited about what they’re doing, that excites me.
(America) I’m a very people-oriented person. If I hear of a need, I like to be able to say that I prayed with that person on the weekend and that they felt loved.
What is an idea you’d like to experiment with or implement over the next six months?
Our “plan your visit” page is new for us, so building that out is key. Also, with our new building comes a new space, where our “Next Steps” area is about to become a fully functioning Guest Services Center. We’re getting to dream again with this new space, so we’re training volunteers to answer all conceivable questions. Our goal in this is to be more intentional with next steps and follow up.
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