The most common mistake I see churches making when assimilating guests
Mistake #1 Giving guests a multiple choice experience
Really Greg? That's the biggest mistake church's make in assimilating guests?
Let me explain...
In my opinion we are in the midst of a massive cultural and marketing trend-reversal. The trend used to be customization..."Have it Your Way". You could create your own unique version of food, decor, music playlists, or even create your own ending to a fictional novel you are reading. That was all trending as the information overload that came with customization was only swelling--not cresting and then crashing on top of our overwhelmed heads.
Now the trend is simplification. A restaurant that has just one kind of food, but does it awesome. A radio station on Pandora that revolves around just one song or artist, one that you love. An internet monolith like Amazon that sells literally everything you want and will deliver it to you free with one click. Travel applications that do all the comparison shopping for you. One smart phone that has everything to run your life on it from and all the books you're reading, including your Bible. I even chose Squarespace to host my website/blog instead of the ever popular Wordpress, simply because Wordpress had 400 templates for me to choose from and Squarespace had only 10.
After being being given no less than 8 choices at Starbucks when I simply ordered a cup of coffee a while back, a started buying my favorite coffee to brew at home instead of returning to the caffein monolith. I was done.
Need I go on?
Life has become too complex and people will go anywhere and connect with anything that will simplify it for them. That means they will go to churches where the teaching is simple, understandable and straightforward. If you resonate with this at all, tell me why we at churches give cards to guests at our services and give them 10+ choices on them to check, expecting them to know what all those programs and ministries are like, and where the best place for a new person is tat your church? Answer: we think they want to take the time to try everything and find their fit after they "taste and see" that all our ministries are good.
I think they will just stay at home and watch the live stream and brew their favorite coffee.
Life has become too complex and people will go anywhere and connect with anything that will simplify it for them.
So what's the solution?
One place, one program.
That means through your announcements, your bulletin and your guest card, there is only one place to go: call it Guest Central, The Connection Tent, First Step Kiosk, whatever. Just make sure your guest don't leave without knowing exactly where it is that you would love to greet them and exchange their information for something: One place.
Now here's the most important part. Make sure that the volunteers greeting them invite them to only one event: an environment that you have carefully and creatively designed for just them, where everything they want to know and every major question they have can get answered and a good time can be had while it all happens. Call it First Step with Gene, , Next Step with Mike, Pizza with the Pastor, Coffee with the Clergy, whatever you like-as long as you invite them to just one program where they can get what they want.
I'm telling you if you invest the prayer and creativity establishing one place to greet your guest and one program for them to attend where they can find out everything they would want to know about your church and what it has to offer, then the number of guests you make fruitful connections with will double, triple and then become a problem...
...the kind of problem you always wanted to have.
That is what happened when we made this shift and the results were so exponential that we have not looked back.
- Is there one place you want guests to go on their way out? Is that communicated in your services? Where is it located? If you could design where it would be and what it could be like, how would you describe it? Think like a guest here and not like church staff.
- Is there one program or many programs that you invite them to choose from? Why? If you don't have one program that is offered cyclically, what might such an environment look like if you created one? What questions or issues would it attempt to address that guests to your church have on their minds and hearts? What other options/obstacles would you have to remove to make that onramp to the life of your church a fruitful one?