One Word Makes the Difference

Guest Services in the church is a passion of mine. I want churches to realize that they have a chance – usually a single chance – to make a WOW! first impression on Guests coming to their facility this weekend.

Here’s a challenge for you: a single word will change your mind-set on this topic:

When it comes to ChurchWorld, more often than not we have visitors.

It may be a little thing to you, just a word, but I think it’s actually a powerful first impression that needs to change.

Do you have Visitor parking? Visitor packets? A Visitor’s Center? Do you welcome your visitors during the worship experience? And on and on…

The first step in creating a WOW! Guest Services experience is to remove the word visitor from your vocabulary, never to be used again.

It’s a little thing to be sure. But it’s a mindset change that will really impact how you create the rest of the experience at your church.

You are expecting Guests this weekend.

Guests come to your place, looking for a warm greeting, a smiling face, and an experience designed to make them feel like, well, Guests. Nothing phony, manipulative, or in-your-face; just welcome them as guests with the most sincere, energizing, and loving experiences you can.

Can we agree to start with a simple change that conveys a powerful image, one that will be reflected through your church?

Over the past several years, in conversations with hundreds of church leaders on the topic of Guest Services, that one word has been like a light bulb being turned on – it’s like “Wow – I get it!”

Now that you’ve got it, I want to stretch you a little bit more and plant a seed for future posts:

The magic formula for Guest Services in your church can be broken down into 4 categories:


What business is your church in?

Only you and your leadership team can answer that, but I am suggesting your church is in the people business. Your church doesn’t manufacture and sell an object, but you do seek to produce something: changed lives.

The “raw materials” you start with are the pinnacle of God’s creation – after all, we are made in His image. But even so, we are all in process. Somewhere between birth and death, all of us are on a journey. Your church needs to balance the frailty and possibility of everyone you encounter, and create experiences that accept them where they are, challenge them to move toward where they need to be, and walk with them along the way.

Churches that understand their “product” and create vital, life-changing experiences – those are the churches that are making a difference in our world today.

What are you creating at your church?


Think like a designer – be an environmental architect

Just as an architect asks a number of questions before designing a building, church leaders who want to be environmental architects must ask questions to reveal the function of the space, which in turn determine its design.

If you were to own the architectural responsibility for every environment in your church, you should be asking questions like:

  • What’s the purpose of this environment?
  • Who will use this environment?
  • What do we want people to experience?
  • What do we want people to leave with?
  • Who’s responsible for quality control?

Now just in case you were wondering, this concept of space is not limited to physical place. Environments (the physical kind) matter very much. But a good environmental architect is also creating psychological space in much the same way.

You’re on a journey to create experiences that keep people coming back.


Guest Service leaders need to understand design thinking.

Design has the power to enrich our lives by engaging our emotions through image, form, texture, color, sound and smell. The intrinsically human-centered nature of design thinking points to the next step: we can use our empathy and understanding of people to design experiences that create opportunities for active engagement and participation.

Just as a product begins with an engineering blueprint and a building with an architectural blueprint, an experience blueprint provides the framework for working out the details of a human interaction, including emotive elements, from beginning to end.

It captures how people travel through an experience in time. Rather than trying to choreograph that journey, its function is to identify the most meaningful points and turn them into opportunities that positively impact the individual. What might be a source of discomfort or pain is now an opportunity for an experience that is distinctive, emotionally gratifying, and memorable.

The experience blueprint is at one and the same time a high-level strategy document and a fine-grained process analysis of the details that matter.

It’s time to create an Experience Blueprint for your Guest Services!


You have to have a great team in place first before you can begin to deliver excellent experiences.

In the equation Creating Experiences = Product + Place + Process + People, the most important part, the starting place, the foundation which all else is built on – it’s people.

The experiences that you are attempting to create, the places and spaces in which they are housed – both literally and figuratively – are important. But you don’t get anywhere without the people.

When an organization helps its team members bring pride, excellence, and playfulness to every aspect of their task, those team members literally have the chance to change the lives of those around them.

People want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. They want to be a part of something that touches their hearts.

Everything matters – but everyone matters more.


Intrigued about Guest Services at your church? Look for more information in upcoming posts here, and drop me a quick note and tell me more about what your church does in the Guest Services area.


One thought on “One Word Makes the Difference

  1. Pingback: You Are in the Guest Experience Business – Whether You Know It or Not « 27gen

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