4 Things That Should Happen in the First 7 Minutes in Our Churches Each Sunday

FourToday, as I continue discussing Nelson Searcy’s book Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests into Fully-Engaged Members of Your Church, I will look at the 7-minute, pre-service period when first-time guests decide if they will return for a second visit. Searcy refers to this time as the time “from the street to the seat.” This is the time before the service even begins. Searcy says “Your pre-service mission is to make every effort to take your guests’ guard down and even put a smile on their face–before the service begins.

4 THINGS IN THE FIRST 7 MINUTES

  • GREETED: Welcomed with a smile. Searcy says we should memorize the sentence “everything speaks to first-time guests–everything.” He says we should strive for excellence and he defines excellence as “doing the best you can with what you’ve got.” Journey Church discovered from their surveys of first-time guests that one of the things they noticed and appreciated most were the smiling faces and the warm welcome as they entered the building. NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF A SMILE!
  • DIRECTED: Simply and politely shown to where they need to go. Guests should be directed either by a sign or a volunteer–preferably by both. When it comes to first-time guests, Searcy said the real estate axiom “location, location, location” should be replaced by “signs, signs, signs.” Searcy says that signs are the single best way to ensure that guests can find what they need. I strongly agree, but I think a church can overdo it in this area. You can get so many signs that none of the signs stand out. Having said that, I’ve only seen a couple of churches that had too many signs.
  • TREATED: Shown respect, and happily surprised with comfort food and a drink. Searcy says, “first-time guests want to feel respected and welcomed. They want to know that you are happy they’re there and that you are serious about making sure they have a good experience.” One of the best ways to convey that message is through food, but it should be well done. Searcy says, “Don’t skimp on food. This is not the area to try to save a nickel. Don’t halve foods to make them stretch. Don’t glare at the person who takes three donuts. Good food lets your guests know that you care enough to offer them something for free that will meet a need.” Provide a good, quality coffee with flavored creamers and large cups. Provide juice, bottled water, and a high quality donut. Some may also want to provide bagels and other alternatives.
  • SEATED: Led to comfortable, appropriate seats. If possible, guests should be led to a seat. It is often very awkward when they try to find a seat on their own. The usher will feel comfortable asking someone to slide over, but the first-time guests usually will not do so. Guests typically are among the last to enter. As a result, it is more difficult for them to find seats on their own. A great usher can strategically seat guests in sections that have people their age.

By the way, be sure to buy Searcy’s book, Fusion. We are only touching the highlights here, so you will want to read it from cover to cover. Here are a few of my other posts on similar topics.

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5 Core Values

The next two days we are participating in a staff retreat here at the Kentucky Baptist Convention. During our extended time together we are going to review and discuss the five core values that we hold dear as a staff–those things that are at the core of our organization that affects all of our decisions and interactions. I’m thankful and humbled to be a part of an organization that stresses these important areas because they are Biblical, Christ-honoring, and practical.

5 Core Values

1.  Trustworthy.  Can be relied upon as a resource to ease ministry pain, not create more.

 “Like a broken tooth or a lame foot is reliance on the unfaithful in a time of trouble.”  Proverbs 25:19

2.  Encouraging.  Finds joy in ministry, and in helping others find joy in theirs.

“Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.”  Romans 14:13

3.  Accountable.  Strives to make a Kingdom difference; understands that ministry is not simply about activity, but on proclaiming and expanding the Kingdom of God.

 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”  Colossians 3:23

4.  Mature.  Actively responsible for his/her own spiritual formation.

“Train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”  1 Timothy 4:7-8

5.  Sensitive.  Listens humbly to diverse voices, seeking understanding and reconciliation.

“Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.”  Philippians 2:3 (HCSB)

 

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Resolutions

My friend, Dr. Paul Chitwood serves as the Executive Director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.  He recently published a very well-written challenge that I would like to share with you.  I echo the following words of Dr. Chitwood as we seek to magnify and honor the glorious name of the Lord Jesus in 2012:

With this first 2012 post, I’m hoping a New Year’s resolution list for Kentucky Baptists will be well received. I offer no earth-shattering new insights. I simply challenge us to be faithful to the basic call of Christ upon our lives and obedient to the fundamental teachings in God’s word. If every Kentucky Baptist would commit themselves to the following resolutions, our churches would flourish, every lost person in the Commonwealth could hear the gospel, and the cause of the Great Commission would be rapidly advanced.

First, would you resolve to walk closely with Jesus through concerted prayer and daily Bible reading? Our Lord exhorts us in John 15:4, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” The first call of the gospel is the call to be in Jesus Christ. He is the source of spiritual life and spiritual power. Apart from him, we will remain powerless.

Second, would you resolve to obey Jesus in all things? Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it” (Luke 11:28). Matters like sexual purity, financial stewardship, personal honesty, sobriety, and refraining from gluttony are not negotiable for those who have confessed Jesus as Lord of our lives.

Third, would you resolve to share Jesus with at least one lost person each week? The command to be witnesses and the promise of the Spirit’s empowerment to that end are clearly stated in Acts 1:8. As for the lost, “how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard” (Rom 10:14)? Yet, multiple studies and surveys reveal most of us never take the initiative to tell lost people how to be saved. Pray that God would give you the opportunity to share the gospel with just one person each week.

Fourth, would you resolve to love and serve Jesus’ bride with more passion than ever before? Your church isn’t perfect but it needs you. And you need the church. We simply cannot be faithful followers of Jesus apart from his church. Love and serve her.

Fifth, would you resolve to commit more of your resources to Jesus’ Great Commission? The sin of greed has captivated us. Rather than starting with a tithe and giving generously beyond that, the average church member gives less than 3 percent of their income. If we merely gave a tithe, church ministry budgets and the Cooperative Program mission budget would triple, resulting in an exponential harvest of souls in Kentucky and around the world.

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