Don't let a bad first impression be a lasting impression
When people step into a church worship event, they should come in contact with numerous volunteer teams that are all there to make sure the experience is a great experience. We want guests to say “Wow! I’m impressed,” within the first 10 minutes of their visit. We want people to know that they are important to us by providing a warm, and safe environment for them to take their next step toward Christ.
First Impressions Matter
First impressions are lasting impressions. We’ve left restaurants, hotels, and stores because of our initial impression.
· It smelled badly.
· It was dirty. Or worse, unsanitary.
· It just seemed unsafe.
· The first person we met didn’t care.
· There was no one to meet. No one.
· We waited. And waited. And waited no longer.
· Some of these places we’ve endured for the first visit, but as we left we knew: we’d never be back!
What are the first impressions of your church worship event?
· Do people know where to park?
· Do people know where to enter the building?
· Is there significant amount of signage that will help guide guests to the best area of greeting and information?
· Is the entrance inviting or awkward?
· How many people do guests interact with before the Worship Experience Starts?
· During the worship experience, can they understand what is happening?
Below are some specifics things to put in place to help make a great first impression.
C.T.U. (Chairs, Tables & Ushers)
These teams serve in snow, rain and sunshine to assist guests in finding an open parking space.. They also provide security during the services, throughout the facility. They welcome guests with greetings from the curb to the front doors to the entry of the auditorium. Once inside the auditorium CTU offer assistance in finding a seat.
E.P.A. (Environmental Protection Assistance) Guest Services
These teams provide information at the information table, hand out bulletins to partners, attenders, and guests. Coffee & refreshment tables are catered and prepped. These tables are maintained throughout the service by the EPA. During setup the EPA also makes sure all signage (I,e, Children’s areas, bathrooms, and specialty tables are prepared and manned throughout the service.
Here are some tips for your EPA team:
Main Door Greeters:
· Greet every person coming through the doors
· Shaking hands is not required – read body language
· If someone needs further help of any kind, offer personal assistance if possible, or take them to another team member who can help them
· Minimum of 2 greeters at the main doors
· Remain at door 15 minutes after service begins; longer if traffic flow dictates
· Return to your door position immediately following the service to hold the door for those leaving
Auditorium Door Greeters:
· Distribute bulletins or handouts
· If someone needs further help of any kind, offer personal assistance if possible, or take them to another team member who can help them.
· Offer assistance to parents with young children; direct them to age-appropriate ministry
· Encourage people to sit toward the front, even though there may be adequate seating elsewhere. They’ll be able to see full facial expression up close! Remember, the front row is always open!
· Set up all brochures in an attractive, eye catchy yet not eye obtrusive manner.
· Read up on and familiarize yourself with all information in the bulletin so that you can answer guests’ questions and provide the best possible guest service.
· Be ready for guests by 1/2 hour before services start.
- Smile! Look approachable, friendly, and willing to help at all times.
· All other guest service volunteers should come out from behind the kiosk to intermingle with the guests without the kiosk as a barrier.
· When the auditorium is full, help usher/greeters with the set up of the Atrium (chairs, noise level, worship atmosphere, taking the offering, etc.)
· Be able to free yourself up to assist newcomers to the downstairs area for their children, provide a tour of the facility, etc.
Remember, first impressions matter. Don't let a bad first impression be a lasting impression.
Ways to Make the Ask
As a culture, we've become wary of making the ask. We're afraid of offending someone or pushing too hard, but often the response is, "I would have done it sooner, but no one asked me." Below are some ideas to help you make the ask to call people into life with God.
Ways You Personally Can Practice Reaping
Ways to Reap as a Small Group
Pick an activity that everyone in the group enjoys. This could include:
Consider who to invite to your small group reaping party. (Open Your Eyes to people around you.)
The evening of the activity, Open Your Ears. Listen to hear where people are coming from.
Take care of the people who come. Open Your Hands.
Reaping as a Large Group
There are, of course, many ways you can use large group events to pull people in and help them experience the love of God. Here is one example, what we called the Anybody Thirsty? Worship Gathering. Below, I've laid out a sample schedule for the gathering.
6:00–6:30 p.m. Meet & Greet Time
Gathering room with seeker friendly environment. This could include:
Whenever you're in reaping mode, asking someone to respond to what God is up to, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Be tactful, but not timid.
It is true that when Jesus interacted with people, He carefully controlled the volume of truth He shared in portions that matched the individual’s capacity to receive. Most people tend to err on the side of being overly cautious about just the right timing and delivery. So, don’t be overly concerned about tactfulness. Be bold in proclaiming the Good News about Jesus.
Spend less time talking about evangelism and more time actually sharing Good News.
Jesus knew that talking and training versus action could be the tendency of His followers. So he gave his disciples opportunities to share what they had seen and experienced.
“Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and . . . they went out and preached that people should repent.” Mark 6:7, 12
If we are faithful in proclaiming, God will be faithful to draw people to himself..
“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” 2 Corinthians 9:6
Reaping Whats, Whys, and Hows
In the last two blog posts, we covered cultivation and planting. Next comes reaping. Simply put, reaping takes place when you challenge friends to respond to the truth of God's Word. It is the natural result of cultivating and planting. If we cultivate in love and plant in God's truth, the result will be the challenge and joy of the harvest. (Ecclesiastes 3:1–2, 2 Corinthians 9:6, Galatians 6:9)
Reaping a response to God’s truth involves an understanding of the difference between our job and God’s job in the reaping process.
Our job in the reaping process of evangelism is to:
This partnership with God calls for bold proclamation with prayerful dependence.
Skills That Need to Be Developed to Do Our Job
To fulfill our part of the reaping process there are two skills that can be developed to enhance our effectiveness.
Enhancing Our Reaping Skills—Presenting the Gospel
One of the hindrances to reaping is best expressed by this statement: “I would love to tell my peers about Christ but I don’t know how to share the essential elements of a Gospel presentation.”
I suggest starting by memorizing Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Do you believe it? Then, live it!
Enhancing Our Reaping Skills—Calling for a Response
Jesus was a master communicator when it came to getting individuals to respond to spiritual truths. He would often paint a word picture and then ask people questions that caused them to evaluate their spiritual condition. He always made space for their response.
Calling for a Response in Practice
You can use the same two steps to call for a response. First, paint a word picture, like this:
Then, ask these questions:
In my next blog post, I'll show you a variety of ways reaping might look.
5 Simple Ways to Plant God's Truth
We can begin to plant the seeds of God’s truth into the cultivated hearts of our spiritually lost peers using any of the following five simple ways.
1. Share What You Learn
For the next 30 days every time God teaches you something, share it with a Christ-following friend. As an overflow of your walk with Christ, you will soon find it more natural to share the same truths God is teaching you with your spiritually lost friends.
2. Share It Again
Maximize every opportunity for your friend to hear God’s truth and meet other Christ-followers. Remember, most people need to hear the Gospel seven times and know several Christians before they are ready to trust Christ.
We can plant seeds of God’s truth as we live out genuine Christianity by confessing our sins and seeking restoration in relationships.
Get to know where your friends are coming from… what’s their story?
“Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” 1 Timothy 4:15–16
Sharing what God has done in your life is a persuasive tool for communicating God’s truth.
Revelation 12:11 affirms the power of personal experience: “They overcame [the accuser] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.”
It Goes Two Directions
God created us to live in a VERTICAL relationship with Him. He loves us and we love him.
God also chose to create us to live in HORIZONTAL relationships with each other in community.
It is Biblically incorrect to conclude that all we need is God. A more accurate statement is that we all need God and one another. God has designed us that way.
God created us as NEEDY people. Just as we need water to drink, air to breathe and food to eat, so God also created us needing healthy horizontal relationships.
The 10 Valid Needs of People
In The Great Commandment Principle, David Ferguson identifies ten needs that are met in different ways throughout life—by God through His Word and our relationship with Him. We can partner with God in meeting these horizontal needs in the lives of other people. These ten needs are:
1. ACCEPTANCE —dignifying others by accepting them
“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” Romans 15:7
2. AFFECTION —expressing care and closeness; saying “I love you.”
“Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ And immediately the leprosy left him.” Luke 5:13
3. APPRECIATION —expressing thanks for the efforts of others
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:10
4. APPROVAL —affirming the importance of a relationship
“And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’ ” Mark 1:11
5. ATTENTION — showing genuine interest in another’s interests
“We should have equal concern for each other.” 1 Corinthians 12:25
6. COMFORT — easing the hurting with words, feelings and touch
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3–4
7. ENCOURAGEMENT — stimulating others to love and goodness
“Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds.” Hebrews 10:24
8. RESPECT — treating another as having importance and dignity “Show proper respect to everyone.” 1 Peter 2:17
9. SECURITY — harmony in relationships
“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:16, 18
10. SUPPORT — helping to carry another’s burdens
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
By partnering with God in meeting these valid needs of those around us in our horizontal relationships, we can fulfill the Great Commandment of loving God and loving others.
Within our Kairos Church Planting network we say, "Vision brings hope and a Plan brings confidence." This is a memorable way to recognize that we need to know where we headed and how we're going to get there.
We also say, "If it's in your head it's a dream; if it's on paper it's a plan." The power of putting something down on paper (yeah, that's figurative, as I'm writing this on my iPad) is amazing. More things will actually get done when we see it written then when they just rattle around in our minds.
If making a plan and writing it down are so powerful why is it that so many of us don't do it? My answer is we often overthink planning. We think planning means spending days agonizing over the issues, researching all possible answers, and preparing that way too long, no one will ever read it, doorstop of a plan. If that's what it takes--count me out! I can't do that kind of planning. Let's leave that to the Pentagon.
Instead I use this very simple 5 question planning process:
Most of the time, even for long term, complex processes, you should be able to put all this on one sheet of paper. Do that and you've got a pretty simple but darn good plan.
Remember even an idiot with a plan is more likely to succeed than a genius without one.
Good luck. Why don't you sit down and make a plan right now. if it fits on one page (one side only) send it to me. I'll love seeing what you're working on.
It’s the time of year when resolutions and plans, hopes and dreams, are pasted on our mirrors, stuck on our walls, or presented in PPT strategy sessions. As an organizational leader and an individual the problem I have with resolutions is not the planning—it’s the execution!
Recently I was at an event where the speaker had written “flawless execution” alongside the diagram of his talk. Wow, that got my attention. Can you believe the first thing he said was he wasn’t going to do the talk he had planned. He spent the next twenty minutes of his sixty-minute time slot talking about himself! His info, when he got to it, was good. But we lost one-third of his time! His problem wasn’t his planning—it was his execution!
Ram Charan and Larry Bossidy in their book Execution say, “Execution . . . is a discipline of its own.” Here are four ideas that can help you and your team practice the discipline of execution in a way that makes sense, gets the job done, and doesn’t make us feel like failures.
I have a friend who was a naval navigator. He once told me, “Navigating is easy. As long as you know where you are leaving from and where you are going to everything in between is fluid.” Fluid planning has the why, the reason for our plan, as its starting point. Its ending point is what we want to accomplish. If our why is strong and our what is appropriate everything that lies between is the fluid plan.
One of the major breakthrough events in my life was when I accepted the idea that consistency is not king. And that’s not an easy idea to accept. We’ve all been told the fable of the tortoise and the hare—right? But life doesn’t come at us consistently. Life comes in waves, in fits and starts. Inconsistent action gives us permission to let our energies and focus meet the demands of life while returning us again and again to the action necessary to achieve results. Inconsistent action reduces the guilt that paralyzes us and which can eventually so demotivate us that we quit.
Reality is hurtful because it’s the force we’re always having to adjust to. Reality refuses to leave us alone. It interferes with our plans (which are obviously great because we made them). The hurt of reality, however, is primarily felt in relation to our unwillingness to accept its presence. The more we resist reality the more pain it applies. Instead of viewing reality as the enemy accept reality as a constructive guide. Reality rewards us when we work with it and redirects us when we get out of sync.
A plan is an act of courage in and of itself. But, as soon as we make a plan public, from the moment we take the first step, fear climbs onto the seat beside us. Fearful courage accepts the fact that fear and courage are companions. So when you feel the fear creeping up on you look around to see where courage is. Courage is not the absence of fear, it is acting in spite of it.
Flawless execution is probably the mythic unicorn of strategic planning. I pray these four ideas encourage you to keep on executing your plans for the good results you want to accomplish.
Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work. —Peter Drucker
A Church Planting Story - Chapter 5
Planting a church is about gathering community. Jared and Laura made purposeful connections and also let the Holy Spirit go to town to pull together a group of people who were ready to live like family, to be like Jesus, and to work hard to make Missio happen.
The church launched at Northgate Community Center at the end of April 2018. The room was filled with team members, friends from far away, and people from the community. Guillermo, a custodian at the neighborhood elementary school, stood up and told about how Missio has already poured into the lives of families at their school. This was a complete change in attitude from the first time he met Missio. Let’s just say his expectations from people who called themselves Christians were very, very low. You’ll have to ask Jared to tell you the story sometime.
Moving from Launch into the long growth phase of church planting means recasting vision over and over again. There’s no end date that you’re ramping up for, so you keep recasting vision for things like presence and deepening presence. It means developing a consistent rhythm for small groups, Sundays mornings, and service. It’s like creating a mini launch three times every year.
Remember back at the beginning of this story, we talked about Jared and Laura going to strategy lab? Initially it was to take their dream and turn it into a plan. But that plan was built on a framework that wasn’t there yet. So, after a couple of years, they went back to Strategy Lab with some experience under their belts, and rebuilt the plan using what they’d learned along the way.
Just recently, they went to Strategy Lab for a third time, this time not as a dream, but as a church. They were able to work on their yearly calendar and set goals for Christmas, Easter, and the start of school.
This little church has a big heart. Twice this year, they’ve given their whole contribution to support their neighborhood elementary school. They’re feeding hungry people, giving warm coats to people who need them, and shining God’s light in a corner of our country that proclaims itself to be “beyond” its need for God.
But light speaks.
Here’s what one Google reviewer has to say:
“This place is the Light of God, pure and simple. All are welcome. Every single being. Which is what church ought to be everywhere in my oh so humble opinion. A far cry from what we see out there in much of the church these days. Here -one is received, nourished and so cannot help but want to deliver the same to those in their every day."
A Church Planting Story - Chapter 4
Paul tried to be all things to all people, but that didn’t mean he was all things to everyone all the time. He adapted to the place and the people he was with at any given moment “to win as many as possible.”
Jared and Laura wanted to do more than stand on the street corner and shout out that they were planting a new church. They wanted to be in people’s lives, to forge new relationships with all different kinds of people.
Jared, who lost a brother to addiction and hard life choices, wanted to be in the lives of people like that brother. So he sought out the shelters and the detention centers. He volunteered to help victims of domestic violence and to ride along with the police. He and Laura, with their neighbors, saw repeated evidence that drugs were being bought and sold right beside their house. Instead of throwing their hands up in despair, they went to work. For months, they documented cars’ makes and models, time of day, license plates, and more. When they’d amassed enough evidence, they turned it over to the police, who were able to break up a drug ring in North Seattle because of the Kings and their neighbors.
Earlier this year, North Seattle United met to worship. 16 churches from North Seattle gathered in unity and solidarity. It was exciting, energizing, inspirational.
The next morning, Jared went to his office. The sidewalk outside was littered with heroin needles. The temptation was to crash back to earth with the reality of darkness in Seattle. Jared allowed himself that initial pessimism, but then he said, “No. Let’s not be depressed by how little difference we have made. Let’s let the reality propel us to change.”
Even when they feel like they’re not making a difference, they are. They continue to address real life head on, convinced that even when they feel like there’s no movement, there is.
Jared reminds himself that the 10 months it took to break up the drug ring was about persistence. And if that doesn’t feel like they made a dent, it’s just a reminder that the enemy is strong, but our God is stronger.
We must be diligent. God will not be defeated.
A Church Planting Story - Chapter 3
When Jared and Laura skydived into Seattle in 2014 (not literally, but it was just as scary), they had their plans, their dreams, and their expectations. Piled on top of their own expectations for success, were those of their church partners, supporters, and coaches.
But moving into Seattle quickly brought a couple of truths to light. Seattleites do not easily fall into relationships with each other. The Kings were moving from Nashville, a highly Christian city where people are open to each other to a place where people are closed and suspicious. The metro area of nearly 4 million people may represent half the state’s population, but many people in Seattle feel completely alone.
To combat their own alone-ness, the Kings purposefully sought out partnerships. An early and important relationship was formed with Epic Life Church, a church with a similar vision that was a few years further along. Epic Life gave the Kings a place to belong while they put down roots and built community. Jared credits this relationship to God, who put Epic Life in their path when they didn’t even know that was what they were needing.
Beyond that, Jared purposefully forced himself into other relationships—with neighbors, with people at the gym, with anyone who might be called into service for Seattle’s lost people. The Sojourn team, a campus ministry group that moved to Seattle to work on the UW campus, brought a much-needed energy and excitement to the groundwork of Missio.
As Jared says about partnerships, “We realized early on that as Church Planters, we had to fight for relationships so that people could fall into relationships where we fought for them. That is how you find partnerships. You fight for them.”