100% of the time, before the message has been given, before the songs have been sung, your visitors have already formed an opinion of your church based on their first impressions. These first impressions are acquired within the first 10 minutes from the parking lot to the worship center. This is called the 10-minute Principle, and it’s important. (check out “First Impressions, Creating WOW Experience in your Church, by Mark L Waltz, a great book about the importance of the first impression).
Train your Front-Line Hospitality Team to be proactive and use every second of this 10 minutes to make a great first impression. Remember, First Impressions Last. There are lots of particulars that your church needs to put into place for creating great first impressions, but in a pinch, start here:
Five minute-Crash Course in “Hospitality”
For Greeters, Ushers, Coffee Servers, Information Hosts, Parking Lot Team and Nursery/Preschool/Children’s Department Volunteers and anyone else who comes in contact with Visitors).
- 1. Don’t ASSUME you know why someone is visiting. (Not everyone crosses the threshold as a “last resort for answers to their problems”.) Smile and welcome them and let God take it from there.
- 2. Keep an open body stance, this creates interest. Crossing your arms communicates that you want to put a barrier between yourself and them, keeping your hands in your pockets communicates that you are slightly ambivalent to their needs.
- 3. Don’t stand too close. About two feet of space creates a fair sense of safety, but honors their boundaries.
- 4. When you are “on duty”, DO NOT gather with other team members appearing to exclude others. Look for those who are looking for someone “in charge” (that’s you!).
- 5. Be sensitive to those who want to remain invisible or anonymous. They are just checking your church out. You don’t want it to be the wrong church for the wrong reasons.
- 6. Don’t be a know-it-all, using a bunch of churchy language, making them feel unworthy or illiterate in the ways of church. Speak with them as if you were welcoming family to your home.
Seems simple, right? I think so too. These are all the things I would do naturally, but believe it or not; this is not “common sense”. Not everyone is gifted with the ability to be welcoming to strangers, and feel awkward or ill equipped to do so. Though this is a simple starting point, it is a starting point. Add to this list the other components that are important to your church and you. As a ministry leader, make it your priority to share the 10 minute principle of First Impressions with your team so that they understand that they are NOT just holding a door or handing out a bulletin, THEY ARE THE MAKE OR BREAK opportunity for a 2nd visit!
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Blessed with the gift of gab and hospitality, Bev served as a staff member for a fast-growing church for almost a decade. Discovering her talent for helping people step out of their comfort zone, she began recruiting volunteers to serve in Children’s Ministry. As the church grew, her focus became the influx of visitors and the need to make sure they didn’t get lost in the growth. For this, she developed a full team of trained volunteers to create the “WOW, from the Street to the Seat”. Her success with this program lead to speaking engagements at churches across North Georgia, prompting a string of WOW experiences! Now, as Marketing Manager for Displayit at Church, she loves sharing her tips, tricks and ideas, that can make a real difference. “We’re all on the same team, the Jesus team. Let’s work together for the greater good!”