Personal First Impressions (part 10 of 10)

1985 June-Barcelona-15 Children's class - Iglesia Bautista Bonanova June 1985

  • Parents want to know their children are safe – volunteers need to explain the safety (a better word than “security”) measures in place. Print up a card explaining the details – what to do when you drop off your child and how to retrieve your child. The Welcome Desk volunteers can explain these details en route to the classroom.
  • Names are powerful – guests will notice as they walk with their Welcome Desk volunteer when she greets passing members by name. It says a lot that these volunteers learned members’ names and greets each one by name.

 

 

You get the idea. If you don’t, then ask a fellow administrator to visit your church as if for the first time and give you a report with this checklist. Don’t shoot the messenger – she’s trying to do your church a favor by giving guests a great first impression of your church. After all, you only get one chance to make a first impression – make it count.

 

Lead On!

Steve

 

 

Personal First Impressions (part 9 of 10)

2013 04-April 4 (32) Watford; Initial greeting @ Harry Potter Studio Tour

  • The Welcome/Information Desk volunteers should be extroverts off the scale: warm, friendly, and anxious to go out of their way to help people. Don’t let these critical volunteers burn out. Heap praise on them but also let them know how much is riding on their actions.
  • The Welcome Desk volunteers also need to walk with guests to their Bible study (Sunday School) room or the worship center. But the volunteer also needs to explain to the guest how to find their way out of the building after worship (many church buildings resemble rat mazes) or perhaps the Welcome Desk volunteer can ask a member sitting nearby to “host” the guests.

 

Lead On!

Steve

 

 

Personal First Impressions (part 8 of 10)

2013 04-April 5 (164) St Albans; Door @ base of tower

  • Some churches have greeters in parking lots helping drivers find spots and directing them to a door. That is an excellent way to impress people – especially if those greeters accompany young families all the way to the welcome desk.
  • The front door greeters should have assigned doors – they’ll get to know the people coming in their door and vice versa. Make sure the greeters have the latest church directory so they can call people by name – it will really impress guests who see people greeted by name.

 

Lead On!

Steve

 

Personal First Impressions (part 7 of 10)

2016 01-January 12 (9)

  • Your website was created by people for people. Make sure it is saying the right things about your church. Most visits to church websites are by church members seeking information about church programs. But does your site give non-members what they need (including a positive first contact)?
  • You may have police directing traffic in the street near your main parking lot. Are they courteous or surly? Make sure they understand they, too, are part of the image of the church.

 

Lead On!

Steve

 

Physical First Impressions (part 6 of 10)

2012 April 14-JMU (7) Library sign

  • Welcome desk location
    • Your Sunday morning welcome desk should be visible instantly and not crowded by workers talking to each other about Saturday’s ball game. Get the desk as close to the primary guest entrance door as you can – maybe even out on the sidewalk! If guests don’t know where to go, they’ll go somewhere else or go home.
  • Interior church signage
    • Is your interior signage coordinated? Is it in clear and large print? Is it visible down hallways? Some churches have color signage for different buildings or different age levels such as green carpet and green signs for elementary school classes. Just don’t make the mistake of changing your signage style with every new building.
    • New signage is expensive – but it can have a “wow” effective both on members and guests. Use color – it is very effective in all areas of your church buildings.

 

Lead On!

Steve

 

Physical First Impressions (part 5 of 10)

2014 12-December 27 (2080) Barcelona; Sagrada Familia Passion Entrance doors

  • Marked entrance doors
    • Are the doors you want guests to enter clearly marked? If you have multiple buildings, how do guests know what door to come in? Perhaps some clearly visible wording over the door like “Main Entrance” will cut through the confusion.
    • Regular attendees may enter through “short-cut” doors. If a guest follows a member into one of those side doors, the guest is immediately lost – not a good first impression. Help guests know which doors to use (and which not to use).
  • Appearance of entrance area
    • The main guest entrance lobby should be busy with people and signs to convey an image of an active, on-mission church but not cluttered with “funeral parlor” furnishings. Make the first impression an attractive, warm, colorful visual experience.
    • Word of caution – the furnishings in your lobby telegraph the demographic your church seeks to reach. Your grandmother’s furniture, while pretty, will appeal to, well, your grandmother and not 20-somethings. What does your lobby say about your target audience?

 

Lead On!

Steve

 

Physical First Impressions (part 4 of 10)

2016 03-March 15 (7)

  • Lawn care
    • Is your grass cut and leaves raked on Thursday or Friday, especially during your growing season? Do your trees have mulch beds? Every three months, walk the entire church grounds with your lawn care provider – let him know your expectations clearly.
    • Dead trees and dead branches are dangerous to people and cars – cut them down. It’s cheaper than a lawsuit.
    • Trees are great – they help the church’s “green” image and provide shade. But, get trees with color (maples, cherries, crepe myrtles) instead of pines – people driving by will notice colorful trees. Avoid oak trees, they’ll tear up your pavement and sidewalks. Ask your city nursery for advice – you might even get trees for free (I did).
  • Flowers and color beds
    • You need to have something in your color beds year-round (unless your winter flowerbeds are covered in snow). Flowers say a lot to guests – get flowers with lots of colors. I guarantee it will get attention.
    • Get rid of bushes in islands because they block the driver’s view as she looks for an empty spot. If you want bushes, put them against the building (and use azaleas or hydrangeas).

 

Lead On!

Steve

 

Physical First Impressions (part 3 of 10)

2016 01-January 25 (9)

  • Parking lot entrance signs
    • Can drivers see quickly (at 35 mph) where and how to get into your driveway?
    • What about coming in at night, in snow, or rain – is the driveway marked with reflectors, poles, or other visual aids?
  • Parking lot maintenance
    • Every other year get your parking lot re-striped. Well-marked lines help people park cars properly. It also cuts down on “creative parking.”
    • “Creative parking” can lead to fewer actual parking spaces and to a bad impression to guests. It is also a hazard if it blocks access to emergency vehicles.
    • Some first-timers come to an evening performance. Light the parking lot so they can see how to get back to their car and continue their positive experience after the special event. Of course, residential churches need to consider the impact of lighting on neighboring houses and turn off parking lots at a reasonable hour.
  • Guest parking
    • Ensure your guest parking (not “visitor parking”) is near the main entrance doors. Label these clearly so members don’t park there.
    • Some churches replaced “handicap parking” with “Special Needs/Sr. Adult Parking” so police cannot ticket non-handicap vehicles. It serves the same function but gives more flexibility.

 

Lead On!

Steve