Tuesday, January 28, 2014

First Impressions

By Steve caton

Many church leaders unintentionally don't understand where to truly optimize their first impression because they view the worship service as the first encounter. In most situations, that’s not the way it works. In fact, most of guest’s first impressions are made while they deal with traffic and parking, enter the building, drop off kids, and enter the worship center. All this happens before the worship service begins. Long before the first song begins, guests have started making up their minds about the future. They will overanalyze everything that happens and will lean toward returning or not returning without having heard a word from the pastor.

I’m not suggesting that you will never get a second chance to make a good impression, but people are going to make a decision pretty quickly whether or not they want to be part of your church. Therefore, it’s important for us to understand what effective first impressions strategy truly is and what it is not.


Whether it’s greeters in the parking lot, a designated guest services team, or a welcome time directed by your worship leader, most churches have spent time thinking about how they can accelerate church growth with a good first impression. However, few churches have taken the time to outline every step of the process from the parking lot to the platform. Often times, this results in a church either missing an opportunity to make a good first impression in a certain area or creates a disconnect between the teams and ministries that interact with guests.

While playing secular music in a sanctuary that’s set to the optimal temperature of 70 degrees (because you read that in a study somewhere) may help first time guests feel comfortable, an effective first impressions strategy is much more about a system and process than an environment.


Churches that have developed an effective assimilation strategy follow the same pattern for success. Here are the seven key steps to creating an effective first impression strategy that engages first-time guests, from your initial hello to their return and— hopefully—active involvement:
  1. Define your church’s first time guest process.
  2. Train your welcome team.
  3. Treat guests as you would treat guests in your own home.
  4. Don’t lose track of your guests.
  5. Encourage feedback via social media
  6. Follow up and follow through with first time guests.
  7. Connect guests to your church community.
Assimilation and engagement don’t just happen automatically. It takes time, planning, and persistence to make it work. That process begins with the first impression, continues through the worship service and the follow-up, and extends through new relationships and taking ownership of your church’s ministry. If you want to learn more about how to effectively implement each of these steps, you download the eBook “Accelerate Church Growth” today.  Doing so will ensure that your church has a first impressions strategy based on a system and process for growing your church.

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