This coming weekend your church is going to have guests. According to a survey by LifeWay Research, growing churches will have approximately 5% guests, and non-growing churches will average 1-2% guests. Regardless of which category your church is in, guests are coming. Will you be ready? Did you know there are 3 important “7s” – 7-minute periods when guests are making judgment calls about your church and their experience there?
- The first 7 minutes on campus. Place yourself in the position of a guest. As they pull onto your campus, an imaginary clock starts ticking. Where are the guest parking places? Which door do I enter first? Which building do we go to? Those are just a few of the questions that a guest has in the first minute on your campus. Are there greeters in the parking lot to help give direction? Are there people who can provide help to single moms struggling with kids and strollers? Once inside the building, is there clear signage and can a guest know how to navigate a strange and unfamiliar campus? Can the guest move easily from the foyer to the worship center (or children’s classrooms)? Tick-tock. Time is up. How was this 7-minute experience? Good enough for the guest to want to come back? Bad enough they have already decided not to return?
- The first 7 minutes in the worship service. When a guest enters the worship center, another imaginary clock starts ticking. Can the guest sit where they want, or have members taken up the good seats? Do members sit on ends of rows, or have they been coached to sit in the middle of a row so that guests can more easily find a seat? Tick-tock. Has anyone spoken to the guest family, or are people too busy catching up from last week to notice the new family? Did the service start on time, and was the opening anthem, hymn, or announcement done with quality? Time’s up.
- The first 7 minutes in a Bible study group. If a guest comes to one of your Bible study groups, what will they experience in the first 7 minutes? Will a trained class greeter make them feel welcome? Will members of the group take the initiative and speak to the guest? Is the teacher of the group on time (hopefully he or she is there early!). Will the guest be provided with a Personal Study Guide used by the group as they experience Bible study (hopefully each classroom has extras in anticipation of guests being present). Tick-tock. Time’s up again.
So you see, we have 3 main opportunities to influence a guest in a positive way. If we are savvy, we will coach our group members and church members to be on the alert for guests, and to help make these 3 critical “7s” the best experience they can be. Are you ready for next Sunday? Tick-tock.