Tuesday, April 17, 2012

They are not visitors...they are GUESTS!

It is a privilege to have guests visit our church.  We are honored every time a guest makes a decision to walk onto our campus and attend a service.  We have a small window of opportunity to make sure we're connecting with each guest in a positive way.

Every person who attends our church has the responsibility of making sure each guest is made to feel welcome and to experience a sense of belonging.

We have no less than 2 types of guests:
  1. External guests - people who visit our website in search of information about our church.
  2. Internal guests - people who show up and take the risk of getting to know us by walking through the door.
Bottom line:  Show me a church that doesn't have first time guests or returning guests and I'll show you a church that is soon to fail in fulfilling Jesus' command of Matthew 28:19-20.

Churches have to be CREATIVE in their efforts to get people to walk through their doors.  Honestly, the very thought of having to MARKET the Gospel message to get people to do what they should already be doing is work! (it is worth every effort) I don't mind being creative to reach the LOST...but it's a sad day when we have to do multi-media campaigns to SELL THE SAINTS - just to get them to do what they should already be doing.  (Sad day...I tell you!)

If we have to CONVINCE the ALREADY CONVINCED - then their passion for JESUS is not near where it should be...and quite honestly, they need to fall on their face in the altar and cry out to God for MERCY

How do we get GUESTS to stay and keep coming?
  1. Make them our biggest fan!  This should be the goal from the time they walk through the door till the time they pull out of the parking lot.  We have to create guest relationships that make them want to immediately "shout it from the mountaintop" or in today's terms...post it on facebook or twitter about how great our church is!
  2. Give them multiple ways to connect with us.  Communication is vital - especially within the first 48 hours.  Our goal is that every guest should be able to reach us by phone, email, social media, etc.
  3. Fix what needs fixed...ASAP!  When a guest notifies of us an issue we have to get the right people involved immediately to deal with the issue...whether it's an issue in the parking lot, the restroom, the church nursery, etc.  There's no need to have an internal meeting at a later time...just get the right people involved and come up with a WIN-WIN solution. 
  4. Provide alternative solutions.  Our guest's perceptions are our reality.  Whether they are right or wrong, whatever they think is the reality we have to work with. Take the time to listen to what guests are saying and read between the lines.
  5. Don't assume they read the bulletin. We can put information in the bulletin 10 weeks in a row and I guarantee you that someone will not get the memo!  In spite of that, we must be willing to refresh their memory on the happenings of the church and decisions that will affect them. 
  6. We don't know more than everyone else!  The second we assume we know more than everyone else, everything changes:  our tone, our patience, our propensity to ask questions and our openness to new ideas.  Being a "know it all" is a sure turn off for guests!
  7. Look for ways to improve.  Even if things seem like they might be going well, they might not be.  What we don't do in a guest relationship defines us just as much as what we do.  Our guests have more to do than simply tell us when we are not doing well or when we are not meeting their expectations.  For this matter, asking for evaluations will ensure we are meeting their needs. 
  8. Say THANK YOU often.  I think we should surprise our guests with gratitude!  Every time we send an email, deliver a loaf of bread, make a visit or hit a milestone together, we have an opportunity to say thank you!
  9. Don't over commit.  Only make promises we can keep.  Although it's sometimes hard to do this, set expectations low but always exceed them.  Deliver on what we say we will do, and we will build trust with guests.  Fail to deliver, and compound that failure with excuses, and the trust our guests have in us will evaporate. 
  10. Bend the rules when you have to.  We set guidelines in our church for the purpose of order and smooth sailing...however, our established ways of dealing with problems are rarely customized for a particular guest's situation. Be willing to adjust when needed.  Guests don't know what the rules are...learn to make exceptions to the rules when the situation calls for it.
  11. Don't assume the question is the question.  In other words, sometimes the question being asked has another layer beneath it (the root).  Listen to what the question is and then listen to see if there's something else underlying that's not being said.  We must listen more than we talk.  Doing this will help us to know our guests better, and help us recommend alternative or complimentary solutions.