8 Questions to Ask Every Guest (and When and Where to ask them)
Last December marked 30 years of marriage for me and my wife Michelle...
When you look back on any relationship, you can see markers that define the legs in the journey two people took together. Markers can be vacations took, crisis' endured, houses lived in. One interesting way to mark the journey of a relationship might be the important questions asked that brought the relationship to new levels. For Michelle and I, these were the questions I asked that started and grew our relationship:
- Would you like to have dinner with me Saturday night?
- Would you come to church with me?
- Would you like to meet my parents?
- How do you feel about "us"?
- What do you think about staying in California?
- Will you marry me?
I also believe the questions we ask guests at our church have the power to take the relationship we are building between them and our church, and between them and God, to a deeper level. Here is a list of 8 questions to ask your guests, and great places to ask them:
- How did you find us? Ask this one at the one place you invite your guests to go after the worship service beginning their first visit. Ask it again at the first week of the assimilation program you use to connect your guests to the life of your church. Asking how people found your church will let your volunteer teams know what efforts produce results when it comes to reaching new people. It is also not a very personal question and one that is an easy conversation starter.
- Would you like to come to ____________(your guest assimilation environment)? Asking this at the one place you invite your guests to go after the service will help guests know what their next step is if they want to connect more deeply to your church. It also moves them from a seat in your auditorium to a circle with potential friends.
- What made you return? Ask this on the first week of the program your church uses to connect guests. Ask it at tables with other new people around. Because it isn't necessarily personal, they will be willing to share it with other guests like themselves. This question also reflects an experience your guests all have in common. They will inevitably share similar answers about why they kept returning to your church and bond with other guests as they share this common experience ("Really? Me too...")..
- Have you ever made a conscious adult decision to follow Jesus? This one could be asked by your pastor, in person or via video, during the first week of your assimilation program. Giving them an opportunity to do that by raising a hand during a prayer can begin a new connection with Jesus himself.
- Did you grow up in church? Asking for people who have grown up in church to raise their hand at some point in your assimilation program will be revealing. Note the percentage of the room that doesn't raise their hand. This is how many unchurched or de-churched people your ministry is drawing right now.
- What is your SHAPE? Educating people on how their spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality, and experiences point to the good works that God has planned for them to do is a life-changing realization for many. Asking this question, while helping them discover the answer through a good diagnostic tool, is a pivotal moment in your assimilation program for many guests.
- Would you like to join my team? Giving guests something like an All Access Tour as part of your assimilation program will give them a chance to see ministry happen in real time during a church service as well as give volunteer leaders and staff a chance to invite them to be on their teams.
- Would you like to visit my small group (or maybe start your own)? Having something like a small group expo periodically where small group leaders can go public with what their groups are about and invite people to sign up for a visit is a great place to ask this question. Sharing an opportunity to go to a small group leader orientation/training in your assimilation program is also a easy way to invite people into the possibility of starting their own group with others they know.
One final thought: As you ponder the conversations that develop with guests, It is easy to think that the person who is talking the most is determining where the relationship goes next. It's not. It's the person asking the questions.
- Which of these eight questions are you currently asking guests? Which ones do you not ask? Why?
- List where and when you ask each question. Are you happy with the environment you asking these questions in? How strategic is the timing when you ask them? What about the order in which they are asked?
- Are there any questions you would add or subtract from this list?
- What is the most strategic question you could begin asking guests now?