Several weeks ago I was attending worship at Elevation Church, Matthews Campus. Pastor Larry Brey, campus pastor, was talking about our volunteers and the preparation they go through to get ready for the arrival of guests that weekend.
LB (as he is affectionately referred to) said something that totally rocked me. Here is his quote:
“The value of a guest is based on the level of preparation of their arrival.”
I have written before on the topic of “guests” vs visitors. I have a strong opinion that words mean things and we should use the word GUEST when referring to first time attendees. Here are the definitions I have used previously:
“Visitor” – is typically somebody who comes and goes without much preparation on our part or much thought afterward.
“Guest” – is typically a person who is cared for and has been intentionally prepared to attend. Most of the time, a guest is somebody who is a participant…a person looking for a specific experience.
For me it is pretty clear that if you are a church, you really are looking to have guests and not just visitors. We want people to feel a part…to feel welcomed…to feel as if we were expecting them to come and that we cared enough to prepare for them…and to follow up with them after.
To our guests…especially those that may not be believers or be far from God…these intentional shifts can make the world of difference. For the most part, we can make this adjustment to our “language” with little or no cost. Imagine that…a transformational change for little or no cost?!?!
But it is more than just our language…it is our preparation. What are we doing to receive, welcome and make feel a part. Many churches have a “Guest Services Team” which is great…but unless you have a sense of what a guest is expecting or how to prepare for them, we will default to just winging it. That is not intentional!
So here are some things that I see at churches that take guest service seriously:
- Appealing, current and relevant website. It is the new “Front Porch”.
- Grounds and facilities are clean, fresh and maintained.
- Parking lot ministry…this is so critical and SOOO easy.
- Guest Parking.
- Greeters…and not just at the main entrance…but throughout the facility and even in the parking lot and gathering spaces.
- The greeters need to have smiles, name badges and even similar color shirts…and they MUST BE FRIENDLY, but not too pushy.
- They pray for the guests BEFORE they arrive.
- Have an information area…NOT A WELCOME DESK (Note: Coffee is an option, I see plenty of thriving ministries without it).
- Stable WiFi. (A church without WiFi for its guests, sends a strong signal, a negative one!)
- Clear and intentional wayfinding.
- Clean and supplied restrooms.
- Proper climate control.
What else would make your guest feel at home?
*Image Credit: North Point Community Church