First Impressions Church Resources and Where to Get Them

One of the best parts of my #tourdechurches trip was that I got a slew of resources from other churches, learned how they do guest services, guest relations, hospitality, and of course manage and train their volunteers!

At least once, if not two or three times throughout the month I get contacted by another church looking for resources, trainings, and simply wanting to talk and learn from each other. My favorite part is that they are all sizes, shapes, and colors. Everyone is looking to collaborate and learn, it is a beautiful picture of how God will grow and move His church. I love that my job allows me the chance to get to network with these other churches, to learn from them, and share what I have learned.

One of the biggest things I have realized as I learn more about what I do: there is a severe lack of information about First Impressions for churches. – Even if you expand your search to guest services, guest relations, hospitality etc.. there is very little (compared to pastoring, leadership, discipleship, worship, prayer, and kids/youth ministries etc..) that can serve as a resource or training. Most of what you find are basic “tips” buzzfeed style. So, because of the lack of information, I have begun to compile information to share with you.. The best part, most of it is FREE! Boom. Winning.

img_0748

Materials for guests and volunteers at Elevation Church

Lots of churches have created their own materials and resources, but there’s little out there for assistance to learn and grow from other churches like other ministry areas.

My goal is to create a place and begin networking to find information, to learn, and share. Some of this will be excellent and others mediocre.. The helpfulness of the resources will depend on your needs and church culture most likely.

I am hugely passionate about First Impressions and the Church; it matters to me a lot. I love when I get to train my own leaders and volunteers, or when I get to spend time with other churches doing the same thing. #Sameteam

I want to become a resource for people trying to learn how to reach others from different cultures, beliefs, backgrounds better. Understanding where they are coming from so you know how to engage with them, make them feel loved and cared for is hugely important. Paul was so great at this!

When I went on my Tour de Churches (You can read a bit about it here), I learned some cool things that you should know!

img_0750

A few of the Grow Network Materials

Church of the Highlands in Birmingham Alabama has a Grow Network, and IT IS FREE. You can sign up and they will help you grow your church! They have thousands of resources… all free!

Also, while I am at it, here are a few articles I have found on Hospitality and First Impressions for the Church. (Most of which are a couple of years old at this point):

Should Your Church Stop Having a Stand and Greet Time? – By Thom Rainer

Top Ten Ways Churches Drive Away First-Time Guests – By: Thom Rainer

Christian Hospitality is Key to Being and Inviting Church – Huffington Post

Inviting Someone to Church Without Being Awkward – Existence Church

Many of the resources I have found, like these below, are more just basics…
Sort of like a “First Impressions or Hospitality 101” for Churches:

Implementing Hospitality – Churchleadership.org

Fix Your Church Hospitality 

First Impressions: Ten Ways to Make Guests Feel Welcome

Then, there are some very helpful “outsider” perspectives that I think everyone should read, consider, and share with other church attenders to help everyone understand:

10 Common First Impressions Mistakes that Churches Make

Also, because I think it is helpful Google Church First Impressions and learn more… Read it all! – No, seriously, read as much as you can from as many different perspectives as possible.

Become a student of what it feels like to be an outsider to the church; because the longer you have been an ‘insider’ the harder it is to remember what it was like to be an outsider.

 

What does Scripture say about First Impressions?

Read more about the topic here, here, and here! – Also, keep coming back because I will be blogging more about the scriptural basis for First Impressions in the upcoming weeks and months. Coming soon are some stories that help to put all of this into perspective as to why First Impressions at Churches matters so much to me.

More resources and blog posts to come.

Do you have Hospitality, First Impressions resources and materials to share?

Do you have any questions?

Comment below!

Yes, It Is Normal…

I want to be known for my blending of Grace and Truth exactly perfectly…

Unfortunately, I tend towards Truth naturally and really have to work on being better at HOW I say things.

And, in the spirit of honesty, one of my biggest struggles is learning how to blend Grace into my words to mitigate my natural leaning towards Truth in a way that reflects the Holy Spirit and Jesus well.

You see, I believe that one of the biggest tricks the devil uses against us is making us to feel like we are isolated. I think often many do not share openly their lives in a way that could be helpful to someone else because it is personal, private, and feels intimate… But, if we are alone, and if that thing we are struggling through is believed to be abnormal, if we are the only one, then clearly we are weak or there is something wrong with us…

I regularly find myself in conversations with people that allows for me to share my own story, struggles, and in a completely honest light offer them authentic encouragement because, after all, we are now in this struggle together.

Over the last few months, I have been given this amazing opportunity to share about my ministry/job with other churches around the country. Some of them were referred to me, others found my name and title (First Impressions Director) on our website, and others I am not entirely sure how they found me. But, I have gotten to talk to them, encourage their ministries, hearts, and share whatever information I could about how and what I do… As well as simply connect over our common bond of “overwhelmed but passionate” for our ministries.

One of the biggest things I have come to realize, regardless of the ministry, church size and even occupation, it needs to be said frequently: 

What you are feeling, that’s normal. 

It doesn’t really matter what you’re feeling:
Overwhelmed,
Annoyed,
Blessed,
Content,
Frustrated,
Excited,
Like you’re drowning,
Struggling,
Overjoyed,
Dry inside,
Agitated,
Numb, etc…
AALLL of the feelings are normal, they are being experienced by someone else also in your same place trying to keep that same pace.

I have been asked SO many times, “How do you manage it all?”

And, my very real and honest answer:

Sometimes I handle it well, flawlessly, and feel energized!…

Aaand then other times, I find myself binge watching Netflix with a glass of wine and snacks, locked away in my room with my puppy for six hours. – Totally healthy coping mechanism 🙄

Sometimes my daily Jesus time is SO GOOD! Then all of a sudden I look up and it’s been TWO WEEKS and I’m not entirely sure where my Bible is even located.

Sometimes my journal and prayers are overflowing, and other times I just sit and stare blankly.

Sometimes I wake up looking forward to my day, having slept well and stoked about what I have planned. Other times I hit snooze until I’m late for work (sorry boss!) and have to bolt out the door without brushing my teeth (I promise I make up the work time)!

Sometimes I go to the gym and eat so well totally dominating the meal prepping for the week. Other times I can’t even remember the last time I ate something other than fast food.

Sometimes I am overwhelmed with the love and joy for my job and life. Other times I am just overwhelmed with a heavy and discouraged heart.

Life is hard. 

Following Jesus is hard. 

Life and following Jesus are all real things, real struggles, authentic joys and sorrows, love and hate, anger and repentance. These are normal life things that so many try to hide or pretend are not a normal part of their lives. Why are we not highlighting the good, bad, beautiful and ugly as ENTIRELY normal?!

Some days we will feel ready to go and like we can conquer the world. Other days we will do all we can to merely survive the day. 

So, Yes, it (whatever “it” is) is normal. 

Don’t let the smiles, adventures, Instagrams, Facebook posts, snapchats or 30 second conversations of and with others fool you… We are all swinging back and forth on this pendulum of so good, and really just trying to survive the suck.

 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.”– 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Trust me, those feelings are normal, and experienced by others! Share your feelings with others, be honest, choose to help someone else see their feelings are normal and accepted too.

12022506_827899133123_4780259355695535530_o