Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Friends and Ministers,

"John" (not the real name), and I were talking recently, about being a visitor at a church, with his kids and wife. He so much wanted to find a place to fit in, to feel loved, welcomed, empowered and where his kids and wife would meet friends and grow in faith. Sounds like a lot to ask of a local church??  That is what I thought. But, as he described his experience and his hopes for his family, I could not help but to think....WHAT AN OPPORTUNITY.... He was asking to join, he was asking to be taught and led, he was giving access to his wife, his kids, his mind and heart and time and money..... WHAT AN OPPORTUNITY.... So, while it may be daunting for a local church to perform well under such pressure, I was challenged to partner with "John" in his search for a new church family. BTW: John and family had moved and left a great church, they were not wounded or living in rebellion or overt sin, they were just new to town and looking for a new local church.

It made me think about how we can deliver world class hospitality, scriptural servanthood and sacrificial leadership to his family.

From this process I considered how this may feel from the side of the church leaders and how we may look at the visitors to our church in a fresh light. These are my resulting recommendations to the church leader who wants to show "John" and his family how special they are to us and how we aim to serve them with the love of Christ.

1. A.D.T Model - Train our people to serve with the A.D.T. Model. See the blog post. Don't shy away by the fact it is aimed at sales training. The model actually works in parenting, church servant leadership, retail sales and hospitality industry.  The blog post is "3 Keys to Great Selling"


2. Treat them Special - This Christmas, host a dinner, (NOT a visitors reception or banquet) with fun children's performance & activities, youth testimony & meeting and VERY brief greeting from the Sr. Pastor. This formula for loving hospitality will be a huge blessing, when you add these elements together, Food, Gifts, Prizes, Children Ministry, Youth Ministry & Sr. Pastor, with a backdrop of light hearted, music & fun, you will have given a world class effort to bless the visitors from 2014. I would invite them all, personally, with an actual invitation and possible phone call. Spend the time and money on your visitors, ask the members to plan, serve and bless the visitors, instead of expecting their own Christmas Party. Nothing wrong with members having parties too, but think of Jesus and the wedding reception. We remember this story as presented in the Gospels, because Jesus blessed the people, not because he gathered the members to celebrate together. Put centerpieces at every table that visitors can win, offer serious prizes, like weekend getaways, free spa visits and other fun things, don't be cheap, get local businesses to help out. Don't talk too much. Have laughter, maybe even a Christian Comedy person. Have great smells and sounds, music and desserts....who doesn't love the smells and sounds of Christmas.  Offer Childcare for babies and small kids. Visitors are blessed by getting a break for just a few minutes. Charge $2 a kid to cover the childcare if needed, this helps them not get the idea they are entitled to free childcare every time the doors are open. Otherwise, make it free, treat large families, families of lower income, young couples and others who may find it more difficult to attend such event, with special help and care. Throw out the childcare costs, but make a point to mention the workers and the blessing it is to have them serving, makes a good cultural example.

BONUS IMPACT: For maximum impact, provide multiple opportunities for the party, several or at least two different time slots. People are busy and churches are so guilty of thinking their "thing" is the most important thing on the calendar of our families. For visitors to have two choices and an RSVP process, is to be truly hospitable and to eliminate a major reason many cannot attend, crowded schedules.

3. Show them the future - I believe many visitors fail to return or to commit deeply because they fail to hear or see a compelling reason to. We are often apologetic about our desire to ask for their commitment. We show a lack of passion for the lost, for the city, for missions or even for our calling to go and made disciples. I suggest we cast vision for the future, tell a compelling story about Jesus, his love and his grace. Don't just cast a vision for the church, cast vision for their life. What does life look like when you are forgiving, free, delivered, loved, healed, wise and hopeful. What does it look like when the fruit of the Spirit and the great commission are present in your home, instead of hate, anger, rage, disconnection, disappointment and lack of passion. I know of one pastor who makes a very passionate case for joining his church. He calls people to commit for one year, come to everything, get into small groups, serve with children, come on Sunday, and everything else. He makes it very clear, the reason is to learn about and get to know Jesus and his Body, not just to be good church members. He makes a joke, saying if they are want to leave after one year, if the church did not do their job to present Jesus and to serve them well, then he will leave with them and go to another church. It's a joke, but it comes across as a good challenge and it seems to work well. They do the hard work of serving the visitors very well and training members very well, and retain a very high percentage of visitors each year, training leaders, planting churches and mobilizing kingdom builders around the world.

4. Release the WOO - According to the Strength Finder assessments, which I believe are one of the best tools for discovering the way our members could be most successful and excited to serve in the Body, the WOO strength means, Winning Others Over. Find these people, not just the "sales people" or "happy or charming or good looking" people. Find those who are easy to trust, who communicate well, who don't try too hard and who naturally put people at ease, the WOO people, and put them out front and in direct contact with the visitors at the Christmas Party, the morning services and any other direct visitor contacts.

5. Put it in writing - There is not doubt, after many recent studies regarding commitment, people follow through and internalize their potential commitments more deeply and are more likely to take them seriously when they write them down. At the Christmas Party, offer a mega prize (55 inch TV, or a Cruise or whatever your price range allows) as a drawing for filling out a 3 questions survey at their table. Ask these questions...
a) What kind of church are you looking for? 
(very important for you to learn)
b) What specifically can we pray for you about? 
(very important for you care)
c) Would you be our guests in church for the next 3 months? Why or Why Not?   (very important for you to lead & ask)

6. Adoption vs. Assimilation - what is next? - If you are going to go to all this trouble, please have a plan and process going forward. Special communication to them saying thank you and inviting them back. Special services or meetings or classes. Think of this as an Adoption Process, not Assimilation. I will blog about this later, but I believe one of the largest and most profound failures of the modern church is to think in terms of assimilation. This is not Star Trek, we are not CyBorgs, we do not assimilate people. We are students of God's Word and God's Word calls this church thing we do, a FAMILY. People are looking for family, above all. We must lay out an adoption process and invite them into it. The strategy can be intentional and on purpose, but feel authentic and relational. That is the secret, to actually be fathers, mothers, brothers & sisters, aunts & uncles, who love well, listen often, play together, pray passionately and unashamedly invite others into the Family of God.

Design Driven Church Growth
The Dad Challenge


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