Think Outside In
In ChurchWorld™, we tend to think of the auditorium / sanctuary / worship center as our ground zero. The hub for all the happenings. The main event, the big attraction, the centerpiece.
And that’s pretty accurate, from an ecclesiological perspective. The preaching of the word and the corporate worship of the Lord should take center-stage on a Sunday. It should be the thing we put lots of our time, effort, and energy into making as distraction-free as possible.
That’s the reason (a very good reason!) that so many churches view the auditorium as ground zero for their guest services, as well. After all, you have to have a robust usher team to greet people, seat people, distribute communion, take up offering, and … ush … I guess.
And while that is a reason (a very good reason!) to think about your inside, it’s important to note that your inside isn’t the first thing your first-time guests will encounter. They have to navigate your outside to get to your inside.
That’s why I’d encourage you – nay, plead with you on behalf of your guests – think outside in. Think about what they’re experiencing from the moment they pull onto the perimeter of your property. What signs do they see? What cues are you giving them to help them know they’ve arrived at the right place? That they’re parking at the right place? That they’re entering the correct door?
How many volunteers do you have outside…on a blazing hot parking lot in August? Standing outside a wind-whipped front door in February? Staffing a first-time guest tent during an April drizzle?
It’s these outdoor greeters that send a signal that you’re prepared. That you care more about your guests’ comfort than you do your own. That there’s more helpful people to come on the inside.
So yes, staff your sanctuary. Attend to your auditorium. Wig out about your worship center. But don’t overlook your outside.
For the love of your guests, think outside in.
photo credit: Peter Van Dyck