A few weeks ago, I went on my own “conference” of sorts and plotted and planned to visit as many churches as I could in a week’s time. I have finally caught up enough and processed enough that I feel I can begin to share what I learned along the way! There will be many posts likely coming from this, but this is a good place to start the processing and conversation!
I am so thankful that my boss came up with the idea, and pushed me to make it as large and encompassing as I could manage!
I deemed my trip Tour-De-Churches.
It was the best, most refreshing, but also entirely overwhelming experience I have had in quite a long time!
To help you follow along, and also create a space for networking for you as well, I went to:
Crosspoint in Nashville, TN (Talked with Kylie)
Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, AL (Talked with Janah and Amy)
Passion City, Atlanta (Talked with Stephanie)
Northpoint, Atlanta (Talked with several staff members)
Newspring, South Carolina (Was hosted by Sarah, but met with SO many staff members/teams)
Elevation, North Carolina (Talked with Stephen)
Also, when I was at Northpoint, I attended their NP Lead Labs one day conference, which was awesome and a great (inexpensive) learning conference for churches to help them engage non-believers! But, it was also SUCH an amazing way to network with other churches. – I met some amazing people doing really cool things and had great discussions because of this!
One of the unexpected positives from my #Tourdechurches is that it is just nice sometimes to be around other people who are doing church ministry, and realize in solidarity how difficult it can be. It is intensely draining on you mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally and you must be careful to hit the reset button and refresh.
Here are some of the highlights that I learned:
and First Impressions looks different EVERYWHERE you go.
Cultivating a first impressions experience for guests is different for church. The strategy of every church I visited had vastly different goals. – Each of them the purpose crafted the experiences to be very different.
Every Church that I met wants to learn as much as they can from others. – #Sameteam
If your church does not have money/budget to spend on first impressions things: Every church I met with agreed, THE best way to create a friendly environment is how your volunteer teams are trained and are greeting and welcoming your guests.
If you are on a church staff: One of the most valuable things I have learned, be certain and clear about your goal each Sunday morning in regards to First Impressions, volunteers, and the guest experience. – Communicate it clearly and often.
Love. On. Your. Volunteers. – This was the biggest thing I saw globally at each church. They love on their volunteers well; the best ones create amazing community among serving teams and go above and beyond to take care of them.
Also, feed your volunteers! – Snacks, lunch, something, feed them as much as possible! haha
A great litmus test I learned: Take a few of your key staple pieces of materials, and ask someone who is not in your church (maybe is not even a believer), and see if it is clear, makes sense, do they understand it?… Test to see if you are using the right language.
If you think it is clear, it probably isn’t. The thing I think stood out to me the most is that there is a huge lack of clarity on the part of new guests. If you think something is clear, they are probably too confused to notice.
Smile and step into awkwardness. You must be ever-conscious of your face – Smile. Smile. Smile. But also, if you do not recognize or know someone, it IS your job (and that of your volunteers) to go say hello and introduce yourself.
Training. It is crucial; literally the life-blood of your teams to train them well. But, not just train them HOW to do their jobs, but also WHY what they do is important. – Also, simple piece of advice, never stop learning yourself.
I have a few additional blog posts here, here and here about this if you want to learn more! (with many more to come)
To Be Continued…
More to come.. I have a whole list of resources to share from these churches. That is coming next blog post! (I’ll back-post a link to this post once it’s up!)
I also plan on sharing some (attributed to anonymous) stories of people who had good or bad experiences, and talking through what I have learned in and through these situations…. Basically, stay tuned, there is so much more coming!