The Guest Perspective

Along with Network Navigator Jeff Harris, I am onsite this weekend in Houston, TX, conducting Guest Perspective Evaluations for two clients. Jeff and I spent time Saturday cruising the communities around the two churches, conducting a “windshield survey” of the areas.  Even though we have also spent time in the digital world of Google Maps, it’s always great to see and experience first-hand the neighborhoods of the churches we are working with.

On my flight out from Charlotte early Saturday morning, I continued reading Andy Stanley’s newest book Deep and Wide. It’s a great book for a bunch of reasons, but I’m going to pull a few quotes out here for their relevance to what Jeff and I are doing today.

Every Sunday people walk onto your campus and determine whether or not they will return the following week before your preacher opens his mouth. And that’s not fair. But it’s true. The moral of the story: Environment matters.

Environments are the messages before the message. The messages your environments communicate have the potential to trump your primary message.

By the time I (Andy Stanley) stand up to deliver what is traditionally considered the message, everybody in our audience has already received a dozen or more messages.

The quality, consistency, and personal impact of your ministry environments define your church. To put it another way, your environments determine what comes to mind when people think about your church.

I think we should determine the messages our environments communicate. We should choose the messages before the message. It’s our responsibility to shape the way people view our local churches.

The moment a church, or even a group of leaders within a church, catches a vision for capturing the hearts and imaginations of those who consider themselves unchurched or dechurched, environments take on new significance.

The longer you’ve served where you are and the longer you’ve done what you are currently doing, the more difficult it will be for you to see your environments with the objectivity needed to make the changes that need to be made. The shorter version: Time in erodes awareness of.

Every one of your ministry environments is being evaluated every week. Based on that evaluation, some people choose not to return. Additionally, every volunteer and staff member is evaluating the success of his or her particular environment against some standard. If you don’t define what excellence looks like for your staff and volunteers, they will define it for themselves. And when you don’t like what you see, you will only have yourself to blame.

Stanley’s words are a powerful reminder of just how important your Guest Experience is.

I’ve got my talking points for the Guest Perspective Evaluation with the Executive Team:

Environment matters.

Time in erodes awareness of.

Those phrases, with several hundred images and about 5-7 minutes of video, will make for a very interesting time come Monday morning.


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