Tag Archive - back door

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How to Help Guests Self-Identify at your Church

Churches are notorious for making guests feel awkward and out of place. I attended a church once that asked every guest to wear a rose sticker on their shirt and then remain seated during a time in the worship service when everyone else would stand up walk around and “greet” the new guests. Super awkward, but honestly mild. I could tell some really embarrassing stories how churches make guests feel uncomfortable.

The guest experience is an essential part of your church reaching new people. But building a great guest experience isn’t just about church growth and numbers, it’s ultimately about helping people feel like they belong at your church, so they can then begin to believe in the life-changing news about Jesus.

There are a few simple things your church can do to help guests self-identify.

Guest Parking:

Priority parking for guests and a great experience in the parking lot with a parking team and good clear signage is a great way to help guests self-identify.

New Kids/Family Check-in:

Having a new family check-in area for first time kids in the kids ministry is a great way to help new families self-identify.

New Ministry Engagement:

Simply pay attention to new ministry engagement each week. The first time someone gives, the first time someone jumps into a group, the first time they volunteer, or any other way they self-identify, check to see if it is their first point of engagement.

Mention Guests in your Weekend Services:

Make sure you address guests directly in your weekend worship services. Thank them from the stage for being your guests that weekend and tell them what step you want them to take. Some churches have a communication card they want guests to fill out and turn in, some direct guests to a particular place to receive a special welcome and meet the staff, and I’ve seen others invite guests to self-identify and on their behalf the church donates a financial gift to a ministry…i.e. “By simply being here this weekend you’re providing clean drinking water to kids in…let us know you’re here and make a difference in the life of a kid.”

So, here’s how the math behind it all works…

  • We know that the average church in America has around a 15% attrition rate annually. People move out of town, people get mad at something the pastor says and leave, and people die. There are all kinds of reasons attrition takes place.
  • We also know that the average church that has a great guest experience and weekend worship experience (including a strong kids ministry), retains about 1 in 5 guests, or 20%.
  • So, if a church that averages 500 people on the weekend is going to grow by 5%, or 25 people on average then they need to help 500 1st time guests self-identify. That’s a 1:1 ratio of guest to attender for the year.
  • Still not following? Say that church of 500 people is on average going to lose 15% of people to attrition, or in this case 75 people. If that church has a 1:1 first time guest to average attendance ratio for the year, that would mean that church would have 500 first time identifiable guests. If they retain 20% of their guests, or 1 in 5 first time guests (which would be 100 people), that church would grow by 5%, or 25 people in average weekly attendance.

Obviously, there are other ways to get things growing at your church. You could “close the back door” and cut the attrition rate, or you could strengthen the retention rate of new guests.

But none of that matters is you can’t help guest self-identify and get them in your assimilation pipeline.


Posted in Leadership

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Why Volunteering is the Biggest Issue Facing the Church

I’ve never coached a church leader or consulted with a church that said they had enough volunteers. In fact, most church leaders I speak with identify a shortage of volunteers and volunteer leaders as one of the top 5 issues holding their church back from reaching the vision that Jesus has given them. But contrary to the popular belief among many church staff, the issue isn’t a poor talent pool. Your church is full of talented volunteers. In fact the people who attend your church are so talented that companies actually hire them to do jobs everyday and they actually get paid for it (sarcasm indented). The real issue is that the church needs to change the scorecard. We need to shift the focus of paid-staff from ministry production and execution to volunteer and leadership development. The churches that do this understand the following 5 principles and the incredible results that accompany applying them.

1. Volunteering makes your Church “Sticky”

Want to figure out how to close the proverbial backdoor of your church and keep people from “leaving?” Then get people volunteering. People come to church for all kinds of reasons. But the top two reasons people stay at a church are “relationships” and “responsibility.” Volunteering checks both of those boxes!

2. Volunteering is a Pathway to Small Groups

Most churches used to buy into linear thinking that says people come to church, then get into a small group and then start volunteering. That’s actually backwards. It’s way less threatening to volunteer and serve than it is to jump into a small group bible study at some strangers’ house with a bunch of other strangers. And guess what happens as people volunteer? They begin to develop friendships with other people they’re volunteering with and then get into small group bible studies with friends instead of strangers.

3. Volunteers are more Generous

It’s negligent of me not to point this simple fact out. That is, people who volunteer are more likely to be generous financially towards your church. The fact that they are volunteering means they’re with you and on some level buy into the vision of where you’re going as a church because they’re wiling to put their time towards it. Jesus said it this way, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

4. Volunteering is Discipleship

I’ve written previously that many churches still view volunteering as roles that need to be filled instead of people that need to be developed. Most churches are missing the boat on this simple fact: that people grow spiritually through volunteering and tangibly learning to live an others oriented life. The first Sunday School Class I taught, the first Mission Trip I went on…etc. I grew and gained far more than I ever gave.

5. Volunteering is the Biblical Mandate for the Church

“Volunteer Development” can be described as the two-word long job description of every staff person who receives a paycheck at a church. The Apostle Paul put it this way…”And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…”

 


Posted in Volunteers