Jason Young Buckhead Church

Jason Young is a hospitality, leadership, and emotional intelligence coach and communicator. He has worked with numerous churches and companies including Ford Motor Company, Life.Church, Chick-fil-A and others. He is also the Director of Guest Services at Buck... read more

The guest coming to your church does not think about their experience quite like you do.

You are familiar with everything. You know the lingo. You know the building. You know the people. They don’t. In fact, just finding the right place to park could be a challenge and they haven’t even made it into the building yet. 

You must empathetically journey in their shoes in order to create an experience that fits them. A guest experiences your church in micro scenes whereas staff and volunteers potentially see it from a macro perspective. Therefore, think scene-by-scene.

Here are five scenes to look into from the perspective of the guest. After all, you want them to come back, right? If you’re intentional about giving these scenes attention, you are well on your way to creating a remarkable guest experience!

  1. The parking lot – This is where the guest first experiences you (apart from online). Think of clear signage, happy volunteers, cones, stanchions, wands, vests, and the pace of volunteer gestures as they guide vehicles. Better yet, think of it as guiding people and not vehicles and your team will approach their role differently.
  2. The first doors – This is what the guest will try to figure out next. They want to know which doors are right for them to enter. They don’t want to feel stupid by looking ignorant or actually walking in the “wrong”’ doors. Have volunteers prepared to help guide or walk them into the building.
  3. The hallways – This is where they will navigate your building(s). Once in the hallways, they can get to kid areas or to the lobby. These areas can be confusing, so having a volunteer(s) present removes the potential feeling of being lost.
  4. The lobby – This is where the main gathering place is located. Here energy can be felt and they can take in a wider view of people. They will look at others to see how many people are like them. In this space is also where they can ask questions or potentially get more information. Having a well-identified space for guests can be helpful to them should they choose to approach your volunteers.
  5. The auditorium – This is where they will finally land. It’s one of those “we made it” places. They can now breathe and enjoy sitting, checking their phone, looking around the room, or chatting with someone near them. Walk them to a seat if at all possible. You can even ask them if they prefer to sit up front or towards the back. That simple ask feels personalized.

Guests who attend your church spend more time having experiences at stores, theme parks, and hotels than in your buildings. If companies work hard on creating experiences for the customer, why shouldn’t you strive to provide the same for your guests?

If the experience a guest has in the parking lot, entering the building, placing children in the right areas, and finding a seat is poor, they are distracted before the music or message begins. 

Details matter. As church leaders, we have a responsibility to remove obstacles that could potentially break the guest experience. Focusing on scenes that a guest will experience is important. When you do so, you are helping a guest feel something intentional and positive. Guess what? Guests often choose to come back because of how you make them feel.

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