Mar 21, 2012

5 Questions Guest Families Are Asking Themselves When They Walk In Your Church Doors

New families are asking themselves these questions when they walk in your church doors for the first time.  Answer them correctly and there's a great chance they will return.

Some of the questions will be answered verbally.  Other questions will be answered non-verbally through actions, attitude, demeanor, and carefully thought out preparation.   
Question #1 - WHERE DO I GO?
Remember what it's like to walk into a new place?  You don't know where to go, where to drop off your kids, where to find a restroom, etc.

Preparation:  
  • Have clearly marked guest parking...and make it the best parking on the lot.  Have parking lot attendants guide guests into this area.  You can do this by having an entrance sign that says "Guests, turn on your hazard lights for reserved parking."  
  • Have clearly marked outside signage.
  • Have greeters at each door.
  • Have hosts that help them get checked in and personally walk them to the right areas.
Question #2 - WILL THEY BE FRIENDLY?  
It's also easy to forget what it's like to walk into a new place and not know anyone.  Guests can walk in, see everyone talking in groups, and feel very intimated and out-of-place. 

Preparation: 
  • Have the right people greeting.  Make sure your greeters have a great personality, love people, and have the ability to make new people feel comfortable.
  • Make sure the friendliness factor is part of your church's DNA.  The friendliness factor must go way beyond the front door.  It should extend through their whole experience. 
  • Have a time of welcome and greeting at the beginning of the service.  Do not have guests stand or point them out.  They are feeling awkward enough already.  Simply have people near them greet them and welcome them.
  • Show genuine interest in them.  Move beyond the "welcome" and take time to talk with guests.  Engage them in conversation and find out about their family.  Have the attitude "there you are" instead of " here I am."
  • Have a guest reception after the service and invite guests to come meet the Pastor, have refreshments, etc.
  • Be just as friendly when are leaving as when they were coming in.  Have greeters at the doors thanking people for coming as they leave.  The smiling face they see when they are leaving will be what they remember the most.
Question #3 - WILL MY KIDS LIKE IT?  
This is one of the biggest questions you have to answer for families.  It's one of the main reasons people will choose a church.  Mark it down...if the kids aren't happy...mom and dad won't be happy.

Preparation:
  • Make Children's Ministry a top priority at your church.  This includes space, budget, volunteers, scheduling, resources, and staffing.
  • Make church fun for kids.  Fun simply means engaging...age appropriate...and relevant.  Listen and you will hear guest parent's ask their children, "Did you have fun today?"  Work hard to make sure their answer is a resounding "yes."
Question #4 - WILL MY KIDS BE SAFE?
With the volatile culture in which we live, parents will be wondering if their children will be safe in your care.

Preparation:
  • Have clear safety and security procedures in place...and follow them.  This includes background checks on all volunteers, no volunteers alone with a child, pick-up tags, etc.
  • When parents check in, share with them the basic safety and security measures you have in place to keep their child safe.
  • Provide parents with a pager when they drop off their child.  Assure them you will page them if their child needs them.
Question #5 - WILL THERE BE ANYONE I CAN RELATE TO?
They are wondering if there will be anyone they can connect with?  Anyone in the same season of life?  Anyone who will understand them?  Anyone who will accept them where they are?  

Preparation:
  • Have people from all generations as greeters.  If a young couple walks in and only sees senior citizens greeting, they are going to get the impression that the church is not for people their age...and visa versa.
  • Your congregation should reflect the social economic and ethnic diversity of your community.  Someone from any nationality should feel at home.  A millionaire and a hundredaire should feel equally valued and loved.
  • Create a "hospital" culture instead of a "museum" culture.  Message that people don't have to "have their act completely together" to be a part of the church.  Allow people to "belong" before they "believe" and start "behaving."
What other questions do you think new families are asking themselves as they are walking in your church doors?  How can you prepare to answer those questions ahead of time?  Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Posted by Dale Hudson

4 comments:

Excellent Post! It's amazing that proactively answering these simple questions will make any church and children's ministry thrive with growth!

Here's a question I think parents may be asking:

Will my kids be spiritually fed OR Will my kids learn about Jesus and the Bible?
Seems obvious, but many kids come back with a treat, but never really experienced a relevant lesson that they can share with their parents when they ask the infamous, "So, what did you learn today?" After our services, kids should be able to in one clear sentence relay the Big Idea.
I think that a clearly posted sign that outlines the MISSION STATEMENT and VISION of the children's ministry will help parents know the purpose and the "why" we exsist.

That's a great question to ask. My list just went to 6 questions. Thanks for your insight.

Another question, if I had to add one, would be "Who's in Charge?"

Parents sometimes wonder who is responsible for their kids while they're away. We have pictures of our volunteers who serve in each of our rooms displayed on the doors so that parents know the names and faces of those who will be serving their children that morning. Just thought I'd throw that out there.

Great post, Dale.
I'm going to share this with our team :)

-Ap

Great post - especially pointing out the importance of the kids being engaged and happy, as it is the whole family that needs to feel comfortable.

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