Today’s blog post (like all Mondays) is an excerpt from a book that can help you, your Bible study group, and your church do an even better job at reaching people for Christ. I’ve chosen to focus on a section of the book First Impressions – Creating Wow Experiences in your Church.
If I were to ask you who your church’s competition really is, you might be tempted to say, “The church just down the street.” And to a degree you’d be right. But to a much larger degree you’d be wrong! Your competition is any company, person, or group that raises the expectation level of your people (and those who visit your church as guests). Here is what the author of the book, Mark L. Waltz, has to say about this:
OK, time out. Let me assure you I’m not saying other churches are our competition. As pastors and leaders, we’re not attempting to eat out other churches in town. We don’t watch what other churches are doing so we can ‘top’ them. No, the other Christ-centered churches in town are on our team. They are leading and loving for the same cause. They are arm-in-arm with our church, making a difference in the community.
If your biggest competition on Sunday morning isn’t another church in town, then what is it? Your competition, the rival that will keep people away from your church, is any business, service, or experience your guests have encountered in the past few weeks. The competition includes restaurants, malls, golf courses, and amusement parks…The competition for guests begins the moment they are wowed in another environment. (pp.17-18)
Here are a few ways that other businesses compete with your church by raising people’s expectations:
- You call your doctor’s office and the phone is answered on the first ring by someone with a pleasant demeanor. The same person then calls your church’s office and is put on “hold” while the secretary completes a conversation with someone in the church office – forcing you to listen to the tail end of it.
- A pregnant mom pulls up to her favorite neighborhood grocery store and finds designated parking for moms-to-be. She drives to your church and has to fight for a parking spot because none are designated for people in her condition.
- A guest of your church orders a package from an online retailers and the product is delivered the next day! Their expectations for efficiency just went up – and now they expect similar responses from your church…they want issues solved and questions answered within hours, not days.
- Some of the guests who visit your church were greeted by name as they stopped for a cup of coffee on their way to church. Will they find the same kind of treatment at your church? Now they expect it!
How might Bible study groups create “wow” experiences for guests?
“Your guests have high expectations that are formed every day from new encounters with excellence and conscientious care. Although too much of their world is merely adequate, they know excellence, and they return to a place where they experience it” (First Impressions: Creating Wow Experiences in Your Church, p.18). Excellence is in the details. That was the opinion of a church staff on which I once served. We came to believe that if we paid close attention to every detail of ministry, excellence would happen. It seemed to us that if we focused on the “small” things that went into making a great experience for a guest, excellence would happen. And it did.
- Greet guests quickly when they enter your classroom.
- Provide them with a copy of your group’s study materials.
- Ask members and guests to wear nametags so that people can call one another by name.
- Start on time.
- Be well-prepared to guide your group in an engaging study of Scripture.
Just remember: Your “competition” isn’t the church next door. It’s any person, service, or product that raises the expectations of your guests.