In the fall of 2011, I collaborated with Worship Facilities Expo on a brief survey about guest services practices to its online audience. The survey was not intended to be a scientific survey, but instead sought baseline information to indicate trends in guest services in churches.
The 22 questions dealt in broad areas ranging from sanctuary size to number of worship services held weekly to the number of volunteers in guest services roles to training for guest services teams. From the responses, a snapshot of guest services practices in churches is beginning to take shape.
I’m in the process of preparing an updated survey, but I thought it would be helpful to look at the original results one more time: Here’s a look at some summary findings, four key points, and an invitation to continue the conversation.
Selected Survey Stats
- Responses came from 33 states in the US and 9 countries around the world
- Church attendance ranged from 100 to 19,000
- The majority of churches responding offered multiple worship services
- The majority of churches responding had only one location
- About one-third of respondents had auditoriums seating 300 or less; almost one half had auditorium seating for 300-800
- Guest service components include a wide range of services – from parking to greeting to ushers to information centers and more
- The size of Guest Services teams ranges from a few to hundreds
- Leadership of Guest Services teams is primarily voluntary
- 1-3 hours of initial training is provided to Guest Services teams by a large majority of respondents
- Almost half of the respondents offer no updated or ongoing refresher training
- A large majority of respondents have no formal statement of expectations for Guest Services teams
- Recruiting and retaining team members and developing leaders are the biggest needs of Guest Services teams
- Respondents had great success stories and encouragement for other Guest Services teams
A more detailed review of the survey responses began to show a pattern – there were four key findings that a majority of the respondents identified:
1. Guest Services Components The survey identified the following eight areas of typical Guest Services teams: Prayer, Greeters, Ushers, VIP/First Time Guests, Resources, Next Steps, Set-up, and Parking. Additional responses included Kiosk check in, Hospitality time with Pastor, Gift for Guests, and Communion. The largest areas of service were Greeters and Ushers – every respondent had some level of service in these areas. Prayer was another large component, reported by majority of respondents. Areas on the low side were VIP/First Time Guest and Parking.
2. Expectations/Covenant Less than twenty percent of respondents indicated that their Guest Services teams had a formal statement of expectations or covenant agreement.
3. Greatest Need As with any mainly volunteer ministry, a wide range of needs were identified by the respondents. After a closer review of individual responses, the following three areas began to emerge:
- Training of existing volunteers
- Recruitment of new volunteers
- Organization and leadership of the volunteer teams and process
4. Success Stories Respondents were asked to list a brief success story of their Guest Services teams. The responses were able to be categorized into four areas:
- Being known as a friendly church and/or providing a warm environment
- No success story! (more below)
- Commitment of the Guest Services team members
- Follow-up by Guest Services team members
It’s beyond the scope of this post to go into detail on all the findings, but a review of the four summary findings above do provide a unique glimpse into what Guest Services teams are doing – and how they might be challenged to improve on their services. Here are a few that I see:
- Guest Service teams are a very visible and important part of the experience on your church campus – no matter the size. From the street to the seat, your Guest Services team has an opportunity to provide a ministry to Guests and members so that they enter into worship ready to worship. Adjust the services you provide to the scale of your church, but make sure that your Guests and members have no doubt they are welcome
- Guest Services teams – like all volunteer teams at your church – need a vision to serve, a target to aim at, and guide to serve by. A statement or expectations or covenant of service – common to all volunteer teams in your church but tailored to the specifics of Guest Services teams – is the best way to help them minister to the people they encounter every weekend.
- Not surprisingly, Guest Services teams want to know what they are supposed to be doing – and given the tools and training to carry out their jobs. It’s critically important that your Guest Services teams – and all volunteer teams at your church – be a part of solid training at the initial training AND ongoing continuing education along the way.
- Serving should mean celebrating – individuals serving on your Guest Services team provide the front line, first contact experience with Guests and members. They should be delivering and receiving powerful opportunities to pour into people’s lives. When the second largest category of responses to the survey’s “Success Story” question is “None,” something needs to change!
You’ve probably figured out by now that Guest Services is a big deal to me! It’s more than a big deal – it’s 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.