Recently we did some training with all of our ministry volunteers (we call them teams). During COVID, we have had to work creatively to keep serving our church family while also keeping our teams as small as possible. We decided to focus on three things: efficiency, cross-training, and simplification.
Efficiency had to do with doing the best with what we had. How do we do it better with fewer people? Cross-training and simplification drove us to ask: “How do we keep our teams on the same page?”
We decided to focus on the similarities of all the teams. So we decided to focus on these three goals:
It doesn’t matter what team you serve on—we want you to be eyes up, smiling, and looking to serve the person in front of you. Face first is about not getting lost in personal conversation, distracted by your phone, or busy daydreaming. Face first is about making eye contact, smiling, and being ready.
For us, it was the little things like our ushers facing the doors instead of facing the pulpit (back to the stage). We noticed that guests and attenders walk into a room of people facing the other way. What if our ushers turned to face where they come in? It made a huge difference.
Say the first word. Period. It changes the entire dynamic when a greeter says, “Good morning!” or your usher asks if they, “Can help you find a seat?”, or the nursery worker says, “How’s your morning going?” to a nervous mom. If your team says something first—people respond! When people respond walls begin to break down. Engage in conversation with everyone.
By the way, if the expectation for your teams is that they initiate conversation, it will happen more than if you are only hoping that they will somehow be friendly to guests. If your church is like ours, people are friendly and will be friendly to guests too. Perhaps they just need to be helped with what “being friendly” looks like in a church context.
We build policy and team guidebooks to make sure our teams stay on track. We build rules to keep consistency in our presentation and communication. If we are not careful—the law becomes the goal. “Sorry, that’s our policy” is one of the coldest statements we could make to inquiries. There may be times in which that statement is absolutely necessary, but the point is that we build policies to protect people. We don’t want to use people to protect policy—the drift happens easily and almost inadvertently.
How do we fight it? We remind our teams (and ourselves) over and over that people are first. We want to show them love! Let’s equip our leaders to solve problems then!
I recently experienced this firsthand at a conference I went to. Through a unique circumstance, I couldn’t go to a session I wanted to hear, so I went to information services to ask if there was a way to get the audio recording. This sweet, retired lady had no clue…but that didn’t stop her. She got my name and cell phone number and said, “I am going to figure this out. Can you meet me back here in one hour?”
About an hour later I stopped by. This sweet volunteer informed me they don’t give those out normally, so it wasn’t a high quality recording. However, she had already emailed it to me!
Is there more to serving others than just solving problems? Probably.
Are there many things that make a bigger difference in the mind and heart of a guest? Probably not.
If a guest perceives that we are ready and waiting (face first), that we want to kindly engage with them (talk first), and that we remove and help with any obstacles and difficulties (people first), then we are well on our way to building a new relationship! This is the kind of impact that will help someone continue to come and hear the gospel.
What are you communicating to to your teams?