Tag Archive - first


Why Following Jesus is all Backwards

I know that typically I’m cranking out a couple of blog posts a week that deal with Church Leadership and Making Vision Real. It’s usually something about building a great team, the art of execution, vision, structure, why policies will tank your church…or 15 reasons why your church is stuck and how to fix it. But this post is different. I hope you’ll give me some latitude…and I’ll get back to the 15 reasons why your church is stuck and how to fix it later.

I recently had a moment to rest and was reminded of a couple of ideas that, “I know,” but are really difficult for me to put into action. Even with more than 30 years into following Jesus I feel like there are some basic things I still struggle with. Maybe it’s just me, but this whole following Jesus thing seems so backwards sometimes (ok so all the time)…it just doesn’t come natural to me.

Anyway, here’s a few of the thoughts that I scribbled down that I thought I’d share…hope they’re helpful to you in some way.

To Win you have to be Last

This is tough for me. I like to win. I mean I really like to win. Competition is in my Strength Finders top 5. It’s part of why I think it’s unacceptable for people to die and go to hell…and why I think the church has got to be more aggressive in reaching outsiders instead of pandering to insiders. But…if you really want to win…Jesus said you’ve got to be willing to lose. Remember that whole first / last thing He talked about in that really famous sermon He preached?

To be able to truly Give you have to be able to Receive

You cannot give what you do not have. That makes sense…here’s the tough part though…in order to give you have to be able to receive. Another way to put this is you cannot give love if you don’t know how to receive love. This is tough…because receiving takes all kinds of humility…and if you’re human you get that humility doesn’t come natural to us.

You Work From Rest instead of Working to Rest

Most people are, “working for the weekend.” They work so they can save up enough time off and enough money to get away from work and take a break from it all. Jesus designed life differently than that. He worked from rest instead of resting from work. This one is super convicting for me.

To Gain Your Life you have to Lose it

This just seems super backwards to me…to gain life Jesus says I have to first lose it. I get that real life is found in Him and that in order to take hold of that life we have to let go of this one…but the implications for that statement are both simple and far reaching. This is why there is no leadership without loss. This is why when I got married I was hit square in the face with how selfish I was…and then again when I had a kid…and another…and another…and another. You can probably perceive that I’ve still got some room to grow here.

If you want to Find Wealth it’s start with Giving it away

So they key to building wealth isn’t getting as much as you can while you can, it’s not building up stock piles and hoarding things…it’s actually by giving it away. God’s design for money is that we give first, save second, and live on the rest. Giving first honors God, saving second builds wealth, and living on the rest teaches us contentment. We could probably all do with a little contentment.

I have to constantly remind myself (more like Jesus has to constantly remind me) that it’s not about being better, working harder, or doing more. Jesus is good enough, He worked enough, and He did enough. He really is enough…and I’m still figuring that all out. Hope you are too.

Posted in Spiritual Formation, Testimonial


10 Principles to Building a Great Guest Experience at your Church

Do you know how to build a great guest experience at your church? Are you starting with the right building blocks? This top 10 list has been built from my experience of working with churches across the country the past couple of years with the Unstuck Group.

When we engage churches in a Ministry Health Assessment we help them gain a fresh perspective of their strategies, systems and structures. The process gives churches with a current snapshot of their ministry’s health and steps to best position your church to fulfill your vision. Here’s some of what I’ve learned along the way.

1. Stop Acting like a Church

Instead of learning from other churches, begin looking at other public space that people go to. Visit resorts, restaurants, stores and other public venues that have a great guest experience and have people coming back for more. Take your teams, debrief, and build a list of what you can learn and principles and ideas to transfer to your church campus.

2. Give people the Opportunity to Self-Identify

Guest parking, children’s check-in, a physical guest services location, and communication cards in the program/bulletin are all simple ways to create avenues for guests to self-identify. By a guest self-identifying they are essentially “opting-in” or giving you permission to speak with them. Instead of spamming them you are engaging them in a dialogue with their permission.

3. Ask, “What’s Next?”

It can be frustrating going onto a church campus for the first time. It can seem like everyone else (insiders) already know where to go and what to do. It can be intimidating. Make it easier for people by thinking through a “what’s next” exercise with your team. Imagine a guest drives into your parking lot…what next? Imagine they find the right place to park…what’s next? Asking, “What’s next?” moving through the moment a guest arrives on your campus to the moment they leave will help you create an audit of your guest experience.

4. Make it Personal

It’s a nice touch when I make reservations for my wife’s birthday and we show up at the restaurant to be greeted by a, “Happy Birthday Mrs. Alexander,” (and I don’t mind the free dessert either). The more personal you can make it, the more memorable it will be. Instead of a cookie-cutter guest follow up letter, could you write a personal handwritten note? Could the person who greeted them actually be the one writing it? How about a personal phone call to say thank you for visiting, instead of trying to get them to come back. Think: personal without intrusive.

5. Cleanliness IS Next to godliness

If you go into a restaurant bathroom and it’s filthy, how does that make you feel about what goes on in the kitchen? Build a team and give them responsibility for keeping the facility clean. Don’t just make sure it’s clean, (including the parking lot and sidewalks) for guests when they arrive but make sure the bathrooms get cleaned in between services and the facility is maintained during use.

6. Please don’t have a kid watching my kid

I’m not sure about you, but I have kids. And they’re pretty much the most important things I have on this planet. So when I go to check my kids into a classroom at a church and a young teenager greets me and asks me to hand over one of my kids, I get nervous. Now, do I think teenagers should serve at church? Yep. Do I think they can serve with kids? Sure. But have a responsible adult in the room with them coaching them and interacting with the parents.

7. Engage People BEFORE they come to your Church Building

The guest experience begins before guests ever get to your church campus. More and more people are checking out your church before they ever go to it. They’re church shopping online and gauging whether or not they will attend based on what they can learn about you on your website. So does your church website acknowledge and engage guests? Is it easy and intuitive to navigate? Is the Google map correct? Have you posted a short experience video or brief welcome video from the pastor so guests can know what to expect when they arrive? Can they check-in their kids and actually schedule their visit before they arrive on your campus?

8. Call things what they are

One of the worst guest experiences I ever had at a church was when I was wandering around trying to figure out where to check-in my kids. Fortunately I saw someone walking by with a lanyard on, “Finally someone who can help me,” I thought. When I asked where I should go to check in my kids they pointed and said, “The ‘B’ Building,” and kept walking. Great! What’s the ‘B” Building, I thought. Please call the nursery, preschool ministry, elementary, Jr. High and so on what they actually are. I know you’re trying to be cute and cool with your great church brands but it doesn’t help guests. Clear trumps cute or cool all day long.

9. Don’t Single People Out

There is a difference between acknowledging guests and singling them out. Having guests wear a special name tag, a rose on their lapel, or remain seated during the worship service so everyone else can come by and say hello singles people out. Very few people like to stand out. Remember your Junior High years? Most people will go to great lengths to blend in. So don’t single your guests out at church, or they probably won’t come back again.

10. Follow Through

The easiest way to gain or lose trust is to follow through, or not follow through on what you say you’re going to do. If guests take a step and self identify, then follow up with them. This can be a simple email sent the day of their visit, a handwritten note sent on Monday or a personal phone call. If guests ask for help or information, then give it to them. Quickly.

Obviously this isn’t an exhaustive list, but it is probably a good place to start. What else would you add to the list? Leave a comment!

Interested in learning more about engaging the Unstuck Group and participating in a Ministry Health Assessment? Follow this link!

Posted in Leadership