Below are five practical tips to implement at your church in order to make great first impressions with guests.
1. Vision cast to your Guest Services team
So often, people that serve on a church’s Guest Services team feel unimportant. They think they are not good enough to sing on stage, lead a small group or are not tech-savvy enough to serve on the production team. It’s vital that your leadership overcommunicate that this is not the B-team. This is not a place to serve for people that have no talent. This is a vital ministry and is a front door to your church. People make up their mind whether or not they will return in the first ten minutes. First impressions matter!
2. Pray with your team before your first service
Never, ever forget the God-factor when you serve in ministry. We are but vessels. We need the Holy Spirit of God to love, lead and serve through us. Pray each week with your team that they would be the hands and feet of Christ. Pray for God to break down walls of fear, skepticism, and distractions. Pray that the lost would come to Christ and that the hurting would find healing and hope.
3. Remember it’s always someone’s first Sunday
I really can’t stress this enough. No matter the size of your congregation, chances are that someone is entering your doors for the first time. The larger your church is, the more this is true. Churches of 200 can expect at least five to eight guests a week. Larger churches welcome even more into their midst. When you gather with your Guest Services team to pray before your first service, remind your team of this simple truth. Focus them on their mission to welcome all who enter with love and to be a servant.
4. Free up your hands
One of my pet peeves is when I see people on the Guest Services team that have a coffee or cell phone in their hand. This is a red flag for me. I want my team shaking hands, hugging regular members, holding open doors and pointing to where people need to go (or even escorting them there). If your team member is distracted by looking at their cell phone, it is one of the rudest and worst first impressions you can give a newcomer.
5. Focus on your guests and not your team
A lot of times when I visit a church or even attend my local church, I’ll notice team members in conversation with each other, talking while guests pass by. Again, this is a red flag and a big no-no. Another pet peeve of mine is parking lot attendants standing next to each other and talking. Parking lot attendants should be spread out, not bunched up together talking. Door holders, ushers and greeters should be focused on their roles and not engaged in conversations with friends. Make eye contact with all who enter—smile and welcome them.
First impressions matter, so take them seriously and do all you can to remove distractions and barriers for your guests. Love and serve others like you would want to be loved and served. Finally, give all the glory to God. It is He who uses us as jars of clay and melts cold hearts. The cool thing is that we get to be a part of that supernatural process.