Relationships and Responsibilities Help People Stick

If you’re church planting I am assuming at some point you will host Sunday morning gatherings. I will also assume that you want people to experience your community, and come back.

Excellent.

But what are you doing to help your guests connect in a meaningful way to your community? What are you doing to help them contribute to that community.

If we really want our Sunday morning services to be gathering centers that help people take next steps with Jesus, we’ve got to be intentional about helping our guests build relationships and assume a responsibility.

Your job is to create a culture that helps them do this.

Relationship building happens in:

  • Small groups
  • Meet and greets
  • Follow-up calls
  • Newcomer gatherings
  • Serving opportunities

Responsibilities are found

  • Serving on ministry teams
  • Serving in the community
  • Helping with projects or events

To be constructive members of any culture, people need relationships and responsibilities. People who can’t connect or find their place to contribute aren’t going to stay very long. It’s only after they have these that they will become part of your community.

Churches are no different.

To help people find relationship and responsibilities you will need to help them.

  • Be clear about ways new people can connect.
  • Build rhythms and platforms that help new people connect.
  • Set expectations that everyone find a place to contribute.
  • Be clear about how and what you’re asking people to contribute.
  • Keep the pressure on (in a positive way) about these things.

People ‘come’ to church for lots of reasons.

But they stay for the relationships and they will start growing when they have a real responsibility to the community.

What can you do today to help people build relationships and assume responsibilities in your church?

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Where to Position Greeters at Your Gatherings

Greeters help create the relational vibe at your Sunday gatherings. Most importantly, they play an important role in helping people connect to your community.

That’s why it’s worth thinking through how you leverage their skills and talents.

Now, greeting is part art and part science. What I want you thinking about today is how to position your greeters. I know it might not be something you’d want to invest time in thinking about. The truth is, you can have the nicest and kindest people greeting. But if you don’t position them well, you’ll waste their talents.

Some of my suggestions include:

  • Outside. Your visitors experience begins when they enter the parking lot. If possible have clearly marked attendants waiting to help people park and direct them to the front door.
  • Outside front doors. Have more greeters outside your main doors to hold them open for people.
  • Inside lobby. Ideally you have another greeter in the main lobby as people come in. they’re not too close to the front door, but they are present. there watching the doors and smiling and greeting people with a smile.
  • Transition points. These are great places for greeters. At our Park Hill location guests need to go up some steps to get to the auditorium where we hold our service. we’ve always got greeters there.
  • Floaters. Try to have greeters who float in our community space, the lobby, the hallway etc. They can help new families connect to our kids area etc.
  • Entrance to your auditorium or gathering space. This is where our greeters hand out programs and pens etc.
  • Inside the gathering space. one more greeter inside the meeting space to help people find seats.
  • Exit greet. It’s REALLY Important to do all of this on the back-end of service. Call it exit greeting. This is one last opportunity to make a positive final impression with people.

It’s easy to let greeting your guests become perfunctory. This is a huge miss. We need to remember that in the Western context at least, Sunday mornings play an important role in the spiritual life of most Christians. Greeting, like other Sunday gathering roles, can literally change eternities.

I’ve written about importance of connecting with your guests here.

What are other ways to position greeters on Sunday morning?

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15 Ways to See Your Space Through a Visitors Eyes

Church planters need to pay special attention to how guests experience their space. see-clear1

It might make perfect sense where you’ve positioned signs and people to welcome your guests. But your opinion is irrelevant. Your visitors opinion is what counts.

That’s why you must be intentional about seeing your space through a visitors eyes. You should make a habit of walking through your space and see it from a visitors perspective.

Here are 15 questions to help you see your space through a visitors eyes:

  1. What’s inviting me into this space?
  2. What’s not inviting me?
  3. Who’s in charge here?
  4. What do the people who set his up want me to do?
  5. What’s making me uncomfortable about this space?
  6. What’s distracting me from the main message?
  7. What’s the first impression people get?
  8. Does this seem to be the place where they’re expecting visitors?
  9. Is the place tidy or appear to be well-maintained?
  10. Does anything make me uneasy?
  11. Where is the toilet?
  12. Where do I go for help?
  13. Are the signs clear and helpful?
  14. Is there enough room for me to wander around a bit?
  15. Do I go out the same way I came in?

I am sure you can come up with lots of others on your own…

Bonus: Another way to do this is to ask friends or colleagues to walk the space and answer these questions. But you must give them permission to be completely honest. It’s not going to do you any good to pretend your space is inviting if it’s not.

Do you best to see your space through a visitors perspective. That way you’ll always be aware of what’s working and what’s not.

I’ve written about who you’re expecting here. This might help you think about what you’re trying to do in your meeting space.

What about you? What are some other ways you can try to see your space through a visitors eyes?

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10 Ways to Connect People with Hospitality

I like to eat. I am assuming you do as well. And the people who celebrate with you on Sunday morning do too. That’s why I am a strong advocate of having food and drink available to guests at all times. tea-cakes-l

This is more than just feeding people. Food is a social elixir. Food makes people comfortable and when people are comfortable they are more likely to connect with each other.

You need a rockin’ hospitality team that plans and executes well at all of your gatherings. I led out Guest Services teams at Restore for several years and learned a thing or two about connecting people.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Find the right leader. God has gifted certain people in the area of hospitality. Find them and let them lead.
  2. Home-made baked goods. We have a team of contributors that do an amazing job of getting freshly baked good to our campuses: donuts, cinnamon rolls, pastries, cupcakes etc. Sure, we rely on good ole store bought goods to fill in the gaps. But our primary focus is on freshly baked good. Our baking team is also another way people can contribute.
  3. Ensure you have hosts at your hospitality tables. We have an extraordinary team that are hosting the tables of food and coffee each morning. While they are plating the food they are also checking for empty coffee pots, keeping the cold water cold. And most importantly, they are connecting with our guests. Their presence assures first-timers that we are really trying.
  4. Brew great coffee. And lot of it.We’ve tried lots of varieties, brands and roasts. Offer decaf for those of us who try to watch our caffeine intake. Finally, offer hot water for tea and iced water for drinks. Crappy coffee is worse than not offering any. So don’t.
  5. Go for great presentation. If it were up to me, I would get a ‘Box a Joe’ to go, leave it on the table, open a box of donuts and call it a day. Thankfully, we have a coach who leads hospitality team who has a flair for presentation. Our treats are plated and arranged tastefully. Our portions are cut so our guests can easily grab them. Our team uses table clothes and decent plates. Let someone with a gift of hospitality help you with this.
  6. Don’t skimp. Be sure to have plenty of food and coffee available. This might mean you have more than you need some mornings. And that’s OK. But it’s not cool when you have new guests and you’ve already run out of food. (Aside, on the mornings when we’ve over-estimated the amount of food we need, we’ll bring it to the local fire station and/or food bank. Nothing need be wasted.)
  7. It’s always free. The point of a hospitality team is to connect people, not feed them. So I strongly urge you to NEVER charge a penny for food and coffee. Build the cost into your connections budget.
  8. Plan ahead. A well run hospitality team needs a great leader. There is quite a bit of coordination that needs to happen to ensure the food and supplies are available and the team is staffed. Having someone who is passionate about hospitality and food will make all the difference.
  9. Small portions. You’re not providing breakfast. You’re providing snacks and treats. That means 10 oz cups of coffee are fine. Smaller portions of treats are perfect. Think finger food.
  10. Music. Ensure you have music playing in your hospitality space. Music helps give the space energy and ambiance. Go for something chill and relaxed.

Now don’t miss the point. While food is great, it’s a miss if people don’t connect. The more time people spend talking with each other, the greater the likelihood they’ll connect in a meaningful way. And that just might change eternities.

What about you? What are some ways you’ve used to connect Guests with hospitality?

I’ve written about creating a relational mess in your lobby here. I’ve written about who you’re expecting here.

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How to Have a Great Huddle

When I was a kid we played lots of neighborhood football. Now while I loved playing football, I was also one the smallest kids. So I learned fast that I needed to use my head and not just my hands if I was going to avoid being the last kid picked to play. And the way I did that was to pay attention in Jimmy’s huddles. Huddle

Jimmy was my friend and the best athlete in our neighborhood. No question. He was fast and focused and strong. (He was also a little crazy which made playing football with him both hilarious and terrifying at the same time.)

And Jimmy would pick me for his team every time because I paid attention in his huddles.

See, while Jimmy was the best athlete in the neighborhood, he insisted on having the worst players on his team–like me. Now even though we were the Bad News Bears of our neighborhood, we won most games because Jimmy made us huddle when other teams didn’t.

Jimmy’s secret weapon was the huddle.

While other teams relied on their speed and power, Jimmy would tell us you won or lost the game in the huddle. So for every play–I mean EVERY SINGLE PLAY–He would huddle us together and trace out the routes and blocks he wanted us to run.

Even if we didn’t win the game, they were at least close. Those huddles were key to our success. (And besides, Jimmy could throw and catch his own pass–I am not kidding–so we always had that.)

As a church planter I am reminded that there is great power in the huddle. If you think about it, the huddle is an opportunity to…

  • Strategize. Jimmy always had a strategy. We always returned to the huddle and Jimmy would call the play based on how he was reading the defense or how we were playing.
  • Recalibrate. Jimmy used the huddle to help us understand where we were being outplayed and where he saw opportunities for us. He’d move us into new positions and spread the ball around.
  • Celebrate. And when we inevitably scored (and we always did) Jimmy would celebrate during the next huddle. “Good run…or Great catch or…I told you that you could beat that kid.”

It’s too easy to let the task of your team become the priority. It’s not. People need to be reminded of WHY they are serving on a particular team as much as they want to understand HOW they are going to do it.huddle2

So how do you do this?

I’d recommend you have an AGENDA for your huddles. The agenda ensures you know what you’re trying to accomplish and why.

For example, after our Restore Roadies are done setting up our gear Sunday mornings we huddle. We provide the donuts and coffee for this moment and then our Service Coach for the day takes us through an agenda like this…

Strategize

  • REMIND contributors WHY we serve on this team. We always take this time to remind them why we are doing what we do.
  • EXPLAIN the HOW. We talk at length about the details that are going to help us execute at a high level.

Recalibrate

  • REVIEW the team goal and what steps we are going to take to achieve that goal. We talk about the challenges our team is facing and how we are going to overcome them.
  • Scripture MEDITATION: We always ask our leaders to personalize a meditation or insight from scripture or the message series that is making an impact on them that would also be relevant to the team.

Celebrate

  • THANK OUR CONTRIBUTORS for serving. No doubt about it, they could be doing other things. So be sure to thank them for volunteering.
  • INTRODUCE NEW CONTRIBUTORS to the TEAM. If people have said yes to volunteering then be sure to introduce them to the rest of the team.
  • TELL A STORY or ANECDOTE about how the team is having an impact.
  • We end our huddle with PRAYER. Always.

While the flow of the huddle changes, we cover the elements of this agenda every time.

Huddles are essential for your team to understand the HOW and the WHY. Use them generously.

What about you? Do you huddle with your team? What does your huddle agenda look like?

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