Tag Archive - guests

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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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10 Articles that will Help your Church Make Vision Real

Each month I curate the top 10 most popular blog posts I’ve shared recently. These are the articles that got had the greatest engagement in the past month. They were the most visited, shared, helpful or disagreed with. At any rate, thanks for staying in contact with me through engaging in the content on this site, I hope it’s been helpful to you! In case you missed any of them here they are all in one nice tidy place for you!

Why Video Teaching Will Work in Your Town Too

When I consult with churches that are considering going multisite one of the key exercises I facilitate with their team centers around how they are going to approach preaching in their weekend worship services. It’s a big conversation and a decision that has significant implications to the model and approach that churches take when it comes to multisite.

How to Make Guests Feel Uncomfortable at your Church

It’s uncomfortable for a person who’s unfamiliar with God and church to go to church for the first time. Often times they feel as though they’re taking a huge risk by even showing up. Unfortunately, there are a lot of things that churches do to make guests feel even more uncomfortable when they go to church for the first time. Here are just a few…

[Repost] How to get Easter Guests to Come Back to your Church

A couple of years ago I wrote a post on how to get guests who come to Easter services at your church to come back to your church. It went on to be one of the top 10 most popular posts on my blog that year. With Easter weekend coming up I thought I’d share it with you again in an effort to help you think through any last minute opportunities to leverage Easter to its fullest at your church and help guests come back.

The Difference between Preparation and Planning

Do great organizations prepare for the future or do they plan for it? The answer is, “yes.” To be clear preparation and planning are not the same thing, and great organizations become great by doing both.

4 Ways Churches Misspend Money

Churches get funny when it comes to money. Generally, churches have a hard time talking about money publicly and few have a clear generosity strategy. When it comes to financial planning and actually spending money in a way that gets them to the vision God’s called them to, the majority of churches I’ve interacted with are all thumbs.

8 Reasons Why People Don’t Volunteer at your Church 

I’ve never worked with a church that has said they don’t need more volunteers. But I’ve worked with a bunch of churches that have trouble getting people to volunteer and stay engaged volunteering.

6 Signs that you’re Leading a Healthy Church

Jesus is into results. I know I’m going to lose a lot of readers at those 4 little words. But I really believe it’s true. Read the scriptures and Jesus actually has a plan that He’s working to make everything new and fix what we broke. Both Jesus and the Apostle Paul talk about it in terms of producing “fruit.” That’s the Biblical language ascribed to producing results.

How to Choose the Next Board Members at your Church

If you’ve led in a church for any length of time you can probably tell some stories of experiences you’ve had with dysfunctional Church Boards. Church Board become dysfunctional for a variety of reasons and there are some basic steps you can take to avoid a dysfunctional Board. The first step is to avoid inviting the wrong people to the Board. In writing this post I’m assuming that you’re already vetting potential Board Members based on the letters the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy and Titus about selecting church leaders. 

What do you do when you Don’t Agree with your Pastor?

If you work on staff at a church, chances are at some point you’re going to disagree with your pastor. That’s okay, you’re human, it would be naive to think you’re always going to agree with your pastor. But what you do with that disagreement is where things can get really messy. Messy for you, and messy for the church.

Building a Winning Culture at your Church

In a day where everyone gets participation trophies the idea of winning or losing when it comes to church has become a foreign concept. In fact, I think most churches have become afraid to win. I’m not talking about a game. Church isn’t a game. It’s about something far bigger than that. Much more is on the line. It’s about heaven and hell. The fact is people are dying and going to hell and that’s simply unacceptable.


Posted in Leadership

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10 Indicators You’re Leading an Outsider-Focused Church

There is a tension that exists in most churches in America, a tension between being outsider-focused and insider-focused. The majority of churches I’ve worked with would affirm in principle that the bible teaches us that the Church should be focused on what Jesus is focused on, and that’s people who are outside of the faith meeting and following Him. However in practice most churches focus the majority of their budgets, staffing, energy and efforts not on reaching outsiders but keeping insiders happy. This leads to churches being insider-focused and missing the mission that Jesus has called His Church to.

Not every church is insider-focused though. Some churches do a great job embracing the mission of Jesus and being outsider focused. In fact, here are 10 characteristics I’ve observed in churches that are outsider-focused.

1. Attenders aren’t Embarrassed to Invite Friends

Simple enough. Regular attenders know that if they bring their friends who are unfamiliar with Jesus and His Church that they’re going to have a great experience and that it’s going to be helpful to their everyday life. There is no cringe-factor that is preventing them from bringing their friends.

2. Guests are Showing Up

Guests are actually showing up and you know it when they show up because you’ve developed a system and strategy to make it easy for first time guests to self-identify and receive the help that they need to navigate your church for the first time.

3. Guests are Coming Back

This is big. Guests had such a good experience the first time that they came that they actually came back. You know they came back and you thank them for coming back.

4. New People are Saying Yes to Following Jesus

Again, seems simple enough. You know your church is outsider-focused if people who are outside the faith are meeting Jesus. This means you’re being intentional about presenting the Gospel and giving people the opportunity to respond.

5. New People are being Baptized

Healthy growing churches in America are baptizing 10% of their total weekend attendance. That means a healthy church that averages 500 people on the weekend this year will baptize 50 people. But of course you’d know that if your church has participated in the online version of the Health Assessment tool provided by the Unstuck Group and has bench-marked the health of your church.

6. New People are taking Next Steps

An unappreciated evidence of an outsider-focused church is that they have intentionally thought through next steps and people are moving forward in their spiritual development by getting into groups, volunteering, and giving.

7. Attendance is Increasing

May sound like a no-brainer here, but outsider-focused churches are growing churches. Is your church not growing? You may not be on mission with Jesus as much as you thought you were.

8. They make the Bible Accessible

Outsider-focused churches understand that people who are unfamiliar with Jesus and His Church are also unfamiliar with the Bible. And so they are very deliberate about making the language that they use and concepts that they talk about biblically accurate while remaining accessible and understandable to the culture they are in.

9. They work hard to be Simple not Simplistic

They create systems that make it clear, simple and intuitive to get into a group, or volunteer, or give financially to the church. Notice I didn’t say simplistic. The Apple iPhone is simple and intuitive to use, but it’s not simplistic.

10. They Embrace the “New”

Outsider-focused churches create a culture that embraces “the new.” They know that everything has a natural life-cycle so they become incessant tinkerers. They’re not afraid to start new things because they know new things attract new people. They are robust in their evaluation about their ministry environments and are candid about whether a ministry offering is reaching outsiders or developing insiders and if the answer is neither than they stop doing it.


Posted in Leadership