Blunder #1 in Assimilating New People
Suppose I come to visit you and you’re going to show me the town. Included in that is a visit to a new restaurant that just opened up last month.
Let’s do this, wild and crazy guy (generically speaking) that you are … I’m game.
So here we go – off to the restaurant. Nice little local joint with clearly a local flare.
We get to the restaurant and note that the parking lot is obviously a hand-me-down from the previous owner. Landscaping leaves a bit to be desired, as well. But, hey, we’re not picky. They promise a good meal and a great experience.
So we go inside and there is no one to greet us. No one anywhere, other than a couple of folks sitting at a back booth. Should have been our first clue!
Finally, we see a server, flag them down to ask for a seat. After about five minutes they get around to taking us to a seat.
We sit down and the table’s sticky. Either a clean damp cloth has not touched this booth for some time, or the cloth was damp but very unclean. Even the seat is sticky.
We wait and wait for the server to give us menus and after about 10 minutes she begrudgingly brings them over. And you guessed it … they, too, are sticky!
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After we flag her down to take our order she takes it back to the kitchen. We think she maybe was on a half-hour break because we don’t see her again forever. But then, we find her to ask about our order.
She goes back to check on it and it’s not ready. We wait and wait some more. We flag her down and she checks again. She brings it out. Guess what? It’s wrong.
So she sends it back and to speed up the story she brings it back out again 15 minutes later and … part of it is cold, part of it is burnt. We eat it anyway.
We wait for the ticket and she finally brings it over. Of course, it’s wrong. After she corrects it I pull out my card to treat you at which point I am told they only take cash. You’re the local so you head out to find an ATM.
In the meantime, I use the restroom. It’s beyond filthy. Oh my. How can they feed people and have a restroom like this all in the same building?
You get back. We pay, leave a tip (yes, we did) and leave with no one saying a word to us.
Three days later we both individually get letters in the mail that say something like this,
“Hey, friend, we are really glad you came to visit our restaurant. We sincerely hope you enjoyed the meal and your experience with us.
We’d love for you to come back. In fact, next week we are doing a special we think you’ll really like … asparagus, green olives and anchovies all wrapped in our own specially made white bread sandwich. Velveeta cheese can be added for $5.
And did we tell you we have a really cool kid’s menu for the little ones? Kids always love eating at our restaurant.
Here’s a $1 coupon for you to come back. Be our guest. And please do not hesitate to contact us if you need anything at all. We are here for you!
See you next week and make it a great day!
(Any of this starting to connect yet?)
Now, let me ask you. Are you and I going back to that restaurant? I don’t care if they gave us a $50 coupon. We are NOT going back! NO WAY!
Why? Because this restaurant failed to deliver on their promise of being a great new restaurant where we’d have good food and a great experience.
Now … Let’s talk church.
I understand I’m probing into an area that gets touchy for some pastors and church leaders. However, I’m telling you, too many churches do church like this restaurant.
I’m hoping you are a step or two up from this performance but let’s be honest. Too frequently, we do not do church at the level of expectation of the guest who comes to visit. Or certainly to what they deserve.
While we jump all sorts of hoops trying to get the guest to come back, we fail to acknowledge that when they were there in our service we pretty much did church for ourselves and didn’t do it very well. We were nice to them but secretly hoped they like doing church the way we do it.
The BLUNDER – Failing to deliver on Sunday morning or any of your weekend services!
If you blow off this discussion of BLUNDERS and continue to have people coming in the front door and out the back, you are not dealing with the reality of how you are seen by the guest.
Not to be pushy but hey, you have to pay attention to the weekend services. Sunday is EVERYTHING! I’m serious. It’s game day!
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I recommend you examine every single minute of your morning. How does every area of your church resonate with people new to the church? The parking lot experience, the building, children’s, worship, preaching, lobby and café gathering points …
What’s the conversation in the car going home? When they ask the kids how they liked it do the kids say, “It was okay.” Or do they say, “WOW! This was unbelievable. Super cool and I learned a lot too. Can we go back? Can we, can we, can we, pretty please?”
You can talk all you want about your great church. You can have the biggest, best, and most comprehensive assimilation plan on the planet, but if you don’t pay attention to game day, your weekend service, it will all be for naught.
Want people to keep coming back? Start your assimilation process before they enter your parking lot and continue it all the way through the service. Then at the end of the service you kick assimilation into high gear, saying good-bye with over-the-top enthusiasm to kids, youth, adults, families …
They have to know you genuinely thought of them and their experience at your restaurant church and that you purposed to deliver on your promise of a great experience … and good spiritual food.
If you’ll avoid this number one blunder churches make in assimilating guests, you’ll be well on your way to seeing more and more guests come back over and over again.
Why? Because there is no crummy church at your place. You deliver!
Check out these blogs on connections, as well.
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