This is the first of five chapters in a 25 part blog series titled: The Five Elements of a Fully Implemented Connections Strategy, published over a five week period. Everything I have posted here is the result of my own personal experiences, from serving on church staffs, volunteering as a lay leader, and being brought in as a paid consultant. It is my hope that these posts will help you and your church get better at connecting with guests, not simply to increase your attendance and membership, but ultimately to grow the body of Christ. Implementing a Connections strategy (or “Assimilation” strategy) is a long term process, and one that relies on a culture of continual improvement. This chapter has four entries, which will all be linked below the post as they are published.
1.4 Strategic Introductions
This is the part where I tell you to plan ahead and get strategic about who you want your guests to specifically meet on a Sunday Morning. But before I do that, I need to be clear as to why this is important.
The Big WHY
First impressions can make or break a relationship. That may not be fair, and it may not be completely under your control, but it is true. Ask anyone who owns or manages a business how important a first impression is when they are in the hiring process. Ask a parent of small children how important first impressions are when choosing a preschool program. First impressions can make or break a relationship.
I want to reset this conversation about church “guests” just a bit to make sure you understand WHY I’m making such a big deal out your first impression.
When someone chooses to engage your church for the first time, there is always a story behind it. Nobody just “casually” stops by a church. Not in our culture. Not anymore. Consider the most likely reasons anyone would show up to your building on a Sunday morning:
- One of your church members invited a friend, neighbor, or coworker to attend your church service or event.
- Someone who hasn’t been connected to a church for a period of time has decided to “return” and picked your address (probably looked you up online).
- Someone has a need they’re seeking to have met: emotionally, spiritually, financially, etc.
- They’ve had a bad experience at another church, for whatever reason.
- Young parents want to figure out how they’re supposed to raise their kids, and got to the point that getting up early on a Sunday to join you seemed like a solid option.
- Someone is interested in meeting other people and making some friends.
- That’s really about it.
These “guests” are real people, with all the real life joys and struggles that each of us experiences. And for whatever reason, they decided to get up on what may be their only day off, walk into a big building full of strangers, and sit down in a room where people are singing songs and then listen to somebody talk. When I stress how important it is to make a good first impression, I’m saying it on behalf of the guest. Let’s be honest: connecting someone to your church family is really about connecting them to Jesus. And because human beings are deeply affected by first impressions, I want your church to be the absolute best decision a guest ever made on a Sunday morning.
Here’s how we finish the discussion on first impressions and move on the the next chapter.
The entire next chapter discusses the realm of Guest Services. It takes all the big questions and self evaluation you’ve done in this first chapter and helps take the practical action steps you know you need to connect guests to your church.
We’re going to discuss how to make strategic introductions as a part of your Connections ministry. For now, do some self evaluation about your church and your guests by answering the following questions:
- Who do you want guests to meet the most? Who do they NEED to meet?
- What do you want them to experience and know?
- What do you physically give to first time guests? Why?
- What should they see? Hear? Touch?
- In what ways can you make sure ALL of this happens upon their first visit to your church?
Main Series Page: The Five Elements of a Fully Implemented Connections Strategy
Element One: First Impressions