I spent a couple of hours last night watching some tutorial videos on youtube.com that dealt with photography. One of the things they mentioned in the tutorial was the use of filters for dslr (digital single lens reflex) cameras and how they help you deal with some difficult lighting situations. When I finished the video I googled filters because I wanted to see how much they were and was very interested in purchasing a few to get started.
This search brought me toÂ http://www.2filter.com/Â and the subject of today’s blog entry. I am just getting started back into photography, so I am having to relearn terms like fstops, aperature, shutter speeds, etc. When I got to the web site, I was overwhelmed with text. Two columns of text, with few headings, and lots and lots of photospeak. While the site says at the top that it desires to help “new image makers understandÂ and select the best camera filters” their web site does not accomplish this goal. I tried to read to text, but it was filled with different types of filters that weren’t explained, and different makers of filters were given but no explanation of the differences between them were given. The site failed to remember that new image makers don’t understand what the administrator of the site already understands. I moved on from their site to another.Â
We do this in the church world as well. We use our own technical language, expect everyone who visits our church to know everything that we know, we make it difficult for them to get information, and when they don’t come back we scratch our head and wonder why. I really wanted to buy a filter, but I just couldn’t get the information I needed to make a purchase. Someone may really desire a relationship with Christ, but we put roadblocks in their way simply because we don’t take the time to think about the world from their point of view.Â
“10 Ways to Make Sure Your Guests Have a Positive Experience”Â
1. Â Assume they know nothing about your church (or any church). New people don’t care what year the church started, or the current building campaign, or how much was raised. This is “insider” information. New people need to now who the pastor is, where the bathrooms are located, how do I find the sanctuary, what time does the worship service start, where do my kids go and what will they be doing, what is available for youth, and how is the church going to help me (and my family) to be a better person. etc…
If you pull up to your church building on Sunday morning, would you know where to go next if you had never been there before? How would you know where to go? How do people know where the nursery is and what your process for taking care of their children? Clear information is directly linked to developing trust. Do they know that you have thought everything through; how do they know this? How does your web site help them to gather this information?
2. Â Don’t use church language, ie. “Christianese.” How many times do we say things like, “saved, Savior, blood of the Lamb, Ebenezer, Sweet Beulah Land (I have been a pastor for over 11 years, and have a doctorate degree and still don’t know what this means), sinner, blessed, fellowship (I know what this means, it means we get to eat something)” etc. with no explanation of what these terms mean and how they apply to what is being discussed, preached, or sung? I am not saying do away with these terms, only that you take the time to explain what they mean. You can’t just do this once, you have to do it every time you communicate — because prayerfully there will always be a new person who is reading, listening, worshipping, etc.
3. Everyone does not need to know everything. This is the opposite of #1, where you inundate the person with so much information that it becomes overwhelming.Â Give “headings” so they can carve through the information and easily get to the information they need. The web site mentioned earlier gave lots of information, but it was just overwhelming to a new person. Give your new people broad topics to choose from. This takes the form of headings on a web site, but you can also do this on Sunday mornings. Â In church life this could be a guest packet of information, an usher assigned to help them navigate through the worship morning, a helper stationed at the entrance of your children’s department.Â Â How can they find the specific information they need easily?
4. Ask your new people about their experience. Some of the best feedback I have received over the years have been from the new people. If they stick around then they love what’s going on, but there is always room for improvement. Some things we have discovered were (music is too loud, children’s ministry workers showing up too late (the guests were waiting around), not knowing how to get involved in ministries (specifically the worship team), etc.) This feedback helped us to deal with the issues, making the experience better for the next guest.Â Keep working on making things better, every week.
5. Place a high value on “outsiders.” Â It is so easy for churches to reach a certain size and then to “circle the wagons.” There is a critical mass of people to staff ministries, fill a worship area, and support salaries. But people are not there to make our programs work, pay our salaries, or make us look “successful.” Our calling is to reach people so that they can give God glory with their lives. The more people that can be reached for Christ means that there are more people giving God gory with their lives. This is a value that has to permeate the church body not just the leadership. If the church values guests, then they will talk with them, welcome them, and genuinely Â care about them. This will be felt and noticed by the new people.
6. Follow Up With them After Their Experience. This is way of saying thank you for investing your time. Â Our society today values time above anything else. The fact that you are taking time to read my blog entry is a blessing to me, because you could be doing many other things right now — so thank you. But those guests that God brings to your ministry could have gone anywhere but they can to your church, your ministry. So, as a way of showing your thankfulness, follow up and tell them.
In order to follow up with them, you need their information (duhh, I know). But how will you gather this information in such a way that is not intrusive or acqward? Try to have multiple points of gathering information and perhaps at the end of a Sunday, you will have enough legible information to send them an e-mail or nice note in the mail.
7. Give them a “Take-away.” Put something in their hand that is of value to them. You can include your information but the idea is not only have you given them a wonderful experience but you are communicating that instead of getting things from them, you want to invest into their lives. You want to give them something. Ultimately, you want them to know Christ and for Him to eternally change their lives, but even at this early stage you are communicating that if they do become part of your ministry, they will be apart of reaching even more people. They will be giving a part of themselves to other people. Remember, it’s not about communicating how great you and your church is, butÂ how you are going to help them grow and become a better person.
8. Â Invest in professional printed materials. Yes, with todays technology you could print stuff out at home. But the truth is that most ministry leaders that I have come across are not graphic designers. Invest the money in having a graphic designer put together a nice piece that you can give to your guests. Remember its about how you will help them, not how great you are! Â When they look at (and feel) this piece they will say, “wow” this is cool. It should not be an 80’s through-back with tacky clipart and a poor layout. You will kill a wonderful morning when you hand them a bad design piece about the upcoming “Eggstravaganza.”
9. Have bridge events. Give people “exit ramps” into your church/ministry. By regularly scheduling special events outside of a Sunday morning, people will have ways to develop relationships with you and other church members so that they can more quickly make a choice about making your church their new home. What events can they come to within a reasonable time (next couple of weeks) that they (or their family) can look forward to? What can they bring to the event so that they feel they are contributing (side dish, potato chips, help with a game station, etc.).
10. Let them know their next step. If I want to join the church, how do I do that? What is my next step? They can take as long as they need, but at least they know what to do, and who to talk with. If they want to join a ministry do they know how? What is required? How are you constantly communicating this?