1. If you asked the average person at your church who is responsible for greeting guests, what would they say?
2. If you asked the average person in your midst who was responsible for getting your guests to become fully-involved members, what would they say?
3. On average, how long do you believe you have---once a person visits your church for worship---for them to make a decision about whether or not they will return?
4. If I asked an average church member at your church what the church is like, how they would describe it? What would they tell me? Likewise, what would a member of your local community likely tell me?
5. According to church hospitality theory, what should your greeters and clergy be doing immediately before Sunday Eucharist?
6. Objectively speaking, does your church building look like a warm, welcoming, and accessible place? What are some of the ways you especially take advantage of your location/appearance to increase numbers of guests?
7. In what ways do you let the local community know about your church?
8. According to the most recent Lilly studies of mainline denominations, what are the two most common characteristics of growing churches?
9. According to a number of hospitality-related studies, what are most people truly seeking when they decide to make a church visit
10. Someone from Boise has just accepted a job as a front line supervisor at a factory in your community. They wander down the street one day to check out the church, knowing they will be seeking a church home for their family when they move. What typically happens if they drop by on a weekday? On a Sunday?
11. If I decide to visit your church for Sunday Eucharist, how do I know:
a. Where to park.
b. Where to enter.
c. Where to sit when I get inside.
d. Where coffee hour, the restrooms, and the Christian education activities are being held.
e. Where the office is, so I can talk with someone about getting my child baptized.
12. Your worship bulletin---how user-friendly is it? Is it produced primarily for your Sunday regulars or your guests?
13. What is the most important question you can ask a guest when they visit your church?
14. Do you use a lot of “Episco-Speak” in and around Sunday mornings? Would most guests know what you were talking about, simply by the language you use?
15. I’m a guest and you have greeted me. What things do you invite/ask me to do?
16. I’m an average church member at coffee hour. I see a person I don’t especially recognize. Do I think:
a. Well, I’d go up and introduce myself but, you know, I really don’t know a lot of people here and I’d be embarrassed if the person turned out to be a long-time member who just doesn’t come to church much.
b. Hmmm… that must be somebody new. But, I guess the greeters and rector know about them….
c. Probably just one of those Easter/Christmas people….
d. I’d go strike up a conversation but my friends are ready to head out for brunch.
e. I want to meet them! Maybe they would like to join us for brunch!
17. I’m a guest and have just attended Sunday Eucharist and gone home to read the Sunday newspaper. What now?
18. I’ve attended church once but didn’t come back the next two Sundays. How do you track me in your hospitality system and for how long?
19. Congratulations! I’m a guest who has decided to join. What expectations do you have of me as a member? How are those expectations communicated and discussed?
20. Great confessions time---in general, do you believe most people in your midst truly want your church to grow? Why or why not? If growth meant changing something about your church (like a worship time) what would the general response be? With respect to the overall area of hospitality and greeting at your church, what’s going well? What’s not going so well? Where could you use some help?
1. Greeting guests is EVERYONE’S responsibility in a parish. This is one of the most important points we will focus on when working with your parish on issues of hospitality. We can use several tools to assess and improve this aspect of your parish life. Those tools may include our mystery guest program, skits and role-playing, or work with your adult church school class.
2. Once guests are initially welcomed, we have found that most people lose interest and essentially believe it is “the rector’s job” to encourage these guests to become full-involved members. Again---our work with your parish will demonstrate how this is truly an intentional, strategic team effort involving ALL of your leadership and parishioners.
3. Most experts say you have as little as just a few minutes before a guest will make up their mind about your parish. This doesn’t, however, excuse the need for good follow up because some people WILL have an initial impression but give you another chance at another time when THEY are in a different place in their life.
4. One of the things we do when working with your parish on hospitality and growth is try to assess what your own parishioners believe about your church AND how your local community views it. We use a lot of different types of tools to get to some of these answers---including something as simple as dropping by the local McDonald’s or WalMart and asking people about your church! All of this leads to the important task of training people in your parish to see everyday opportunities for one-on-one evangelism AND to learn “positive talk” techniques when speaking to each other and to potential guests.
5. Church hospitality experts say that, fifteen minutes prior to Sunday Eucharist, your clergy should be at the door greeting guests and parishioners while your greeters should be out in the parking lot or on the street greeting people at their cars and offering them assistance. A radical idea?! When we work with your parish on hospitality, this is one of interesting types of concepts we explore.
6. Another tool we employ is taking a “virtual tour” of your parish. What does your entranceway say about your church? Is it warm and welcoming? Is your narthex a dumping ground for lost umbrellas and mittens, old worship bulletins, and leftover candle stubs from Christmas? First impressions and good signage count! When we discover what you need, we also have a sign grant fund to perhaps help you with your signage issues.
7. A community information plan is important to your overall growth strategy. We will help you develop one that is simple, free or low cost, and do-able
8. The two most common characteristics of growing churches are MISSION and THE ABILITY OF CHURCH MEMBERS TO ARTICULATE THEIR FAITH STORIES TO EACH OTHER AND TO THE OUTSIDE WORLD. If you need help learning to tell your faith stories, we have exercises to help you do that.
9. People are seeking affiliation---a way and a place to belong. How can your parish help that happen? Our hospitality training helps you to connect with that need AND your guests.
10. How accessible is your church at times other than Sunday mornings? How is your telephone answering machine message? How easy is it is for drop-by guests to connect with you? These are all important issues we deal with during a hospitality assessment.
11. These are all also important items we look at during a “virtual tour” of your parish.
12. Worship bulletins are like your calling card, for better or worse. We can help you make your bulletin more “guest friendly” and effective.
13. “Great to have you with us! What brings you here today?” This type of friendly, open-ended question can help you to initiate a conversation that can lead you to identifying your guest’s needs and fulfilling them.
14. “The psalter appointed for today is Psalm 35. We will read it antiphonally.” “Sign up sheets for softball are in the ambulatory.” The Episcopal Church can sometimes sound like a private club that speaks a foreign language! Our training helps you to intentionally talk in language that is helpful and non-intimidating to your guests.
15. This question has to do with guest tracking and assimilation. Every parish needs a real assimilation plan and our training will help you to develop one for your guests.
16. This question has to do with our own parishioner attitudes about how we interact with our guests. One of the things we can do is some training with your church school adult class is explore positive attitudes that can really help them to meet and greet newcomers.
17. Again, this question deals with the whole area of your guest assimilation plan. How do you follow up on Sunday afternoon and beyond? We can help you develop a real plan that is do-able and effective.
18. Tracking who visited when and whether or not they came back is an important part of a real guest assimilation plan. We’ll help you to create one!
19. Research has shown that today’s church shoppers often aren’t interested in “joining” a particular church. They are more like “free agents” with no real commitments, even though they may be worshipping with you each week and serving on some of your committees and in other leadership roles. How do we communicate expectations and actually ask people to formally join us? Our training examines some strategies that may work for you and your parish
20. Does your parish REALLY want to grow? Does it want to grow if that means growing with some people who may not be “like” the people in your parish right now? What if growth means having to change some old routines or habits? One of the first things we work on is discussing with your leaders and parishioners whether or not they really want to grow, and why or why not, so that we can engage in a process with real integrity, intentionality, and commitment.