Saturday, November 28, 2009

First Impressions - part three (and last)

This is a list of physical first impressions. There are whole books devoted to the Sunday morning volunteers. Let me give a brief list of these “personal” first impressions:
  • Your website was created by people for people. Make sure it is saying the right things about your church. Most visits to church websites are by church members seeking information about church programs. But does your site give non-members what they need (including a positive first contact)?
  • You may have police directing traffic in the street near your main parking lot. Are they courteous or surly? Make sure they understand they, too, are part of the image of the church.
  • Some churches have greeters in parking lots helping drivers find spots and directing them to a door. That is an excellent way to impress people – especially if those greeters accompany young families all the way to the welcome desk.
  • The front door greeters should have assigned doors – they’ll get to know the people coming in their door and vice versa. Make sure the greeters have the latest church directory so they can call people by name – it will really impress guests who see people greeted by name.
  • The Welcome/Information Desk volunteers should be extroverts off the scale: warm, friendly, and anxious to go out of their way to help people. Don’t let these critical volunteers burn out. Heap praise on them but also let them know how much is riding on their actions.
  • Parents want to know their children are safe – volunteers need to explain the safety (a better word than “security”) measures in place. Print up a card explaining the details – what to do when you drop off your child and how to retrieve your child. The Welcome Desk volunteers can explain these details en route to the classroom.
  • The Welcome Desk volunteers also need to walk with guests to their Bible study (Sunday School) room or the worship center. But the volunteer also needs to explain to the guest how to find their way out of the building after worship (many church buildings resemble rat mazes) or perhaps the Welcome Desk volunteer can ask a member sitting nearby to “host” the guests.
  • Names are powerful - guests will notice as they walk with their Welcome Desk volunteer when she greets passing members by name. It says a lot that these volunteers learned members’ names and greets each one by name.
You get the idea. If you don’t, then ask a fellow administrator to visit your church as if for the first time and give you a report with this checklist. Don’t shoot the messenger – she’s trying to do your church a favor by giving guests a great first impression of your church. After all, you only get one chance to make a first impression – make it count.

Lead On!

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