What can your church learn from a donut shop?

My church has a great donut shop just down the street. I hardly ever order a donut but I’m becoming quite addicted to their coffee. It is much nicer inside than any other donut shop I’ve ever been in. There are soft comfortable chairs a fireplace and a flat screen TV.

Like every other pastor out there I’m always taking mental notes on Sundays of ways at my church can be better at what it does. So it is with this mindset that I stopped at this same donut shop with my son on the way home from church this past Sunday. I walked in, smelled the fresh baked goods, and instantly started craving coffee as my son pressed himself against the glass case which was the only thing separating him from a sea of chocolate frosted donuts. After deciding what we would order I stepped up to the counter.

Three employees were talking in a circle with each other. Two were facing my direction and the guy at the register had his back turned towards me. I stood there for a few moments figuring like anyone else they probably finish the conversation and then get back to work. I was wrong.

I watched the three employees laugh and joke and genuinely have a good time; you can tell that they enjoyed each other’s company. In fact, it truly looks like the employees do enjoy working at this particular shop. My son started to get a little restless with the fact that none of the donuts at yet appeared on his side of the glass, so I finally spoke up and got their attention so that I could make my order.

My seemingly sudden appearance seemed to catch them off guard, and they were very apologetic. They took care of our order quickly and were very friendly to us. However… no matter how nice they were, I couldn’t help but feel like customers were an annoyance between their own personal conversations. And no matter how friendly our point of contact became, I knew that as soon as I got my coffee and bag of goodies I was headed back out the door and they were any back to their important conversation.


So what can your church learn from this? Well, a few things:

Face The Door:

Nobody likes their back turned to them; if all of our people are busy talking to themselves who is going to welcome our guests? First impressions are important. First impressions that include friendly, smiling, and attentive people are a must.

Keep It Personal:

If the front door of your church is simply a way to stick a flyer or another piece of information in someone’s hand and send them on their way, then your front door needs work. One of the worst things a customer can feel is that they are an annoyance between employee conversations. Ever have that happen to you in a store? If so, you hated it. Instead, introduce yourself. Ask their names. Where are they from? Is this their first time? How can you help them? These are questions worth answering!

Make It Sweet:

When I left the donut shop, I had a coffee and a bunch of goodies. I checked out the goodies (as did my son), made my order, paid for it, and I left with I came for. As guests come to your church, what happens after they step on your property? The parking lot? The front door? Are they an annoyance for your regulars or are they a valued customer? Are we finding a way to connect with them or get them away from the counter? Do they walk away with exactly the bag of goodies they hoped for, or are we simply pushing some papers into their hands? For some, a bag of goodies is being walked to the area where your family ministries take place, introduced to someone who can check their kids in and explain the ministry options, and illustrate how safe their kids will be and how much fun they’ll have. For others, a bag of goodies is knowing that they mattered, that they have a chance to belong, and an opportunity to make friends, learn something, or connect with other couple. Whatever it is, goodies are sweet.


Face the door, keep it personal, and make it sweet. How sweet is the experience for your guests this Sunday?

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