How wine tasting is affecting liquor stores and what it means for your church (Guest environment blast 1 of 3)

Really?! Wine tasting?

Yep. Welcome to the first of a 3-day blast on the architecture of assimilation environments and the impact they have on the number of guests we connect at our churches. Now, back to wine tasting...

My wife and I love to go wine tasting, especially up the Central Coast of California not far from where we live. We like going from place to place, to see the atmosphere wineries have created to sit and try what they have produced from the fields just outside. Some of our favorites have stone outdoor patios and caves to taste in. Others have retro-modern or mid-century decor under huge oaks surrounded by green mountains. Still others are rustic and feel like you have walked into someone's ranch from a couple generations ago. 

The thing they all have in common is you don't have to buy a single bottle. For a nominal fee, you can taste a small pour of many different kinds of wine, snack on cheese and crackers and sometimes even keep the glasses you are sipping from. If you fall in love with something...buy it, take it home, and relive the experience, an experience Michelle and I repeat around 3 times a year.

As a result, we never go to liquor stores, some of which are seedy, and where you have to buy something at a price that usually is marked up more. Because you haven't tasted it, you are not even sure about what you are getting. That's why the wine we enjoy, we bring home from our wine tasting excursions at our leisure. We can also join a club from our favorite winery and have it delivered if we choose.

This is how a lot of people select and enjoy wine today. It's also how many people select and enjoy churches.

Like those who go wine tasting, many people visiting our churches want to...

  • get a feel for something before they commit to it
  • be in an environment that helps them experience what they are being encouraged to commit to.
  • be able to relax and feel comfortable with the pace of that exploration.
  • jump in when they are ready

Psalm 34:8 says to "taste and see that the Lord is good". God loves to invite people to experience a part of him, confident that when they do, they will want to go deeper. The question is, how can we create an environment where we offer that experience to our guests? Here are 10 ideas:

  1. Have a special place where guest can give you their information, receive a gift, and not stand in any lines. Comfortable furniture is a must.
  2. Invite all your guests to connect at an environment with food, and where you sit at tables.
  3. Don't require a multi-week commitment to get involved, Just create an environment that is so engaging and pleasant that they will want to return.
  4. Offer a program for guests where their experience at tables allows them to taste what a small group would feel like before they commit to finding one..
  5. Offer an All Access Tour for guests only, with special access badges that allow you to take them behind the scenes of your ministries (wine making) and hear from volunteers who love to serve in each of them... before you ask them to volunteer,
  6. Have Community Serve Days, Compassion Trips and select volunteer positions that guests and others in your community can be a part of, even if they haven't been on your campus yet.
  7. Have small group expos where open groups serve food and visit with people looking for a group of friends to explore or follow Jesus with at your church.
  8. Have links on your group finding web page that form a simply worded email for them to inquiry about about a group when they press "contact a leader".
  9. Wow them with a free gift or resource that they could use to "taste" some aspect of the kind of life your church casts vision for.
  10. Give them something free in the mail that they can use next time they come to your campus.
Guests at Next Steps drinking coffee and playing the Get to Know Each Other Game with dice. This is very similar to the opening questions shared when a small group is new. It gives them a taste of community that many times leaves them open or even wanting more.

Guests at Next Steps drinking coffee and playing the Get to Know Each Other Game with dice. This is very similar to the opening questions shared when a small group is new. It gives them a taste of community that many times leaves them open or even wanting more.

Wine tasting is the new way of purchasing wine. Getting a taste of community and purpose is the new way of deciding if a church is for you or not. Knowing you have the Spirit & mind of the best wine-maker of all time, what other ideas would you suggest? Comment on this post. Take some time to chew on the questions below with your team to develop more of a "taste and see" experience for your guests.

Wine tasting is the new way of purchasing wine. Tasting community and purpose is the new way of deciding if a church is for you or not.

Look for the 2nd post in this series where I'll share how creating the right environment for your guests can make things happen automatically, even things that you have not been able to make happen no matter how hard you try.

  • What new thoughts come to mind when you think of your Guest Service Team Members as "Sommeliers"? What church do you know of that comes close to offering that kind of service?
  • Brainstorm to identify any "taste and see" moments in the ministry of Jesus and his followers. What moments stand out to you and why?
  • Which of the 10 ideas shared in this post makes you think of a dial turn that could be a game changer in your own assimilation strategy?
  • What is one "taste and see experiment" that you could road test in the next 4 weeks?

Consider bringing your team to my 2 day Climbing the Assimilayas Base Camp May 11-12 at Crossroads Christian Church in Corona. Look for registration to open this week.

 

Greg Curtis4 Comments