Parking is More Than Just Cars

Yesterday’s post introduced the concept of parking teams and how important they are to welcoming guests, members and attenders to your campus. Today I want to expand the parking concept beyond just cars.

I lead the Guest Services (Parking) Teams at Elevation Church’s Uptown location. As the “first face” of Elevation, my crew and I get weekly opportunities to practice guest services and make a lasting first impression. We don’t just park cars; we also:

  • Sanitize all touch points and spray air freshener in the elevator cabs and stairwells of the parking deck we use
  • Pick up trash along the route from the parking deck to the theater
  • Put up 22 parking signs (3 different types) in a 2 block area around the theater
  • Pull the parking ticket from the dispenser and personally hand it to guests entering the deck and welcome them to Elevation
  • When possible, push the call button so the elevator is waiting for guests to take them from the parking deck levels to the ground floor
  • Hold the door for guests entering and leaving the parking garage elevator lobby
  • Validate parking for all Elevation guests
  • Provide VIP (our first time guests) and family parking right next to the theater
  • Know what’s going on Uptown so we can help any and everyone who has a question (sporting events, concerts, special activities, etc.)
  • Provide umbrellas to guests when it’s raining for the walk from the parking deck to the theater
  • Give a verbal greeting to everyone coming and going – in at least three different locations
  • Be alert to any special needs and radio them ahead to the VIP tent
  • As guests are leaving, we take the validated ticket from them and feed it into the dispenser, giving them a verbal blessing as they head out of the garage

And that’s just the parking team!

Elevation’s audacious Guest Services Team also has Greeters, a First Impressions Team, VIP Tent, and Connections Tent (but that’s another part of the journey).

All this BEFORE a guest has stepped into the theater for worship.

Your church is different from my campus – you probably don’t have a parking garage. But you do have parking lots – and that is an excellent opportunity for you to make a powerful first impression.

Take the principleParking is your first opportunity to make an impact on your guests – and apply it to the context of your place. What will you do this week to implement/change/improve your parking team?

Do not underestimate the power and influence of the first impression your parking lot makes!

Establishing a Culture of Service

Yesterday’s post introduced what I have found to be the number one question I encounter in talking with leaders in ChurchWorld:

How do we discover/train/keep more volunteers in our church?

I have dozens of conversations with church leaders every week. In almost every conversation – no matter what the original topic – the question above comes up. Large or small, rural or urban or suburban, traditional or contemporary, denominational or non-denominational, the question is always being asked.

Yesterday I began a series of posts on the concept of volunteers in ChurchWorld. I introduced the topic with the first of two  articles written in 2009 for Church Solutions magazine. They were based on a unique experience I had at my church that summer – one that changed my perspective and trajectory. You can read the first one here. And here’s the second… 

Establishing a Culture of Service (originally written for Church Solutions magazine in August 2009)

If you took a poll of church leaders about some of their biggest problem areas in churches today, you are sure to find some variation of “we need more workers” in the top three. I grew up in the home of two very committed parents who served in a lot of different church positions over the years. As a young teenage believer, I helped out where I could. As a young married adult, my wife and I volunteered for numerous positions in our college and seminary churches. While serving in church staff positions for over 23 years, I also served in different volunteer capacities. When I transitioned into the role of a church consultant, I continued in volunteer roles in my church. As I look back over these decades of experiences, the need for more workers is a prominent and consistent memory.

What if it didn’t have to be that way?

A few weeks ago I wrote about Elevation Church in Charlotte NC and their efforts in enlisting volunteers for their kick-off Sunday in the fall. In that post, I noted the events of the day and posed a question: Where do I sign up? It wasn’t a rhetorical question, because my wife and I had already made the decision to serve on the volunteer staff at Elevation. Here is the rest of the story.

On that “No Show Sunday” Elevation had an additional 560 volunteers sign up. That was critical because on 8/23/09, the church opened their first permanent campus, added three new worship services at two campus locations, and upgraded the facilities at their third location, thus requiring the additional volunteers. In the two weeks before the opening and expansion, each of the campus locations had volunteer recognition and training events on-site. Each of the 4 areas of volunteering had a session with the team leader going over the responsibilities of that area. Volunteers were given the task of “shadowing” a position to see if that was indeed where they wanted to serve. Our team leaders emailed and called us before our first Sunday of service. A volunteer leader packet came in the mail. So it was no surprise that a whole new cadre of volunteer leaders were eagerly in place on the first day!

Some observations of my recent experiences at Elevation:

  • Does your church have a culture of service? Do you expect that everyone will serve somewhere, doing something? If not, why not?
  • Many times, all you have to do is ask. People want to serve; they just need permission from you!
  • Make sure you are ready for the response. If you asked for volunteers and got 50 or 100 or more, would you be ready for them?
  • Establish a training/shadowing process. Volunteers don’t need 4 weeks of intensive training before they serve; most can begin right away with a minimum amount of training, continuing to learn as they serve.
  • Do you have a process to keep up with volunteers, seeing how they are doing and challenging them to strive for more?
  • Do you celebrate the volunteers who serve in your church? You couldn’t pay them to do what they do, but it is nice to recognize their gifts of time and service throughout the year.
  • Is volunteering a high value for your church? Do your full-time staff positions recognize the crucial role volunteers serve and respond appropriately?

I have been fortunate to serve in dozens of volunteer leadership capacities over the past four decades, but I’m very grateful to be a part of a church that knows the value of volunteers, challenges us to go beyond ourselves, and do it all while serving our Lord.

What’s the culture of service like in your organization?

 

Church Leaders Are Always Asking This Question…

How do we discover/train/keep more volunteers in our church?

I have dozens of conversations with church leaders every week. In almost every conversation – no matter what the original topic – the question above comes up. Large or small, rural or urban or suburban, traditional or contemporary, denominational or non-denominational, the question is always being asked.

With that in mind, I wanted to visit the concept of volunteers in ChurchWorld. I’ll introduce the topic today and tomorrow with a couple of articles written in 2009 for Church Solutions magazine. They were based on a unique experience I had at my church that summer – one that changed my perspective and trajectory.

Volunteers-The Lifeblood of Your Church (originally published 8/9/2009 in Church Solutions magazine)

 What do you do when a church experience built on volunteers throws a “No Show Sunday”? That was the experience at all of Elevation Church’s (Charlotte NC) multiple campuses this weekend as the staff designed a unique service both to honor current volunteers and encourage new volunteers as Elevation (3 campus locations, 8 services) prepares to add their first permanent site this fall and increase the number of services at each location.

Initially crafted as a response to being “a one-man show”, the weekend services began with no greeters, no parking crew, or no signs all over the place – typical Elevation features. As a matter of fact, one of Elevation’s core values is honoring guests. Not this weekend! Participants walked in to the campus locations with only a single sign at the entrance: “Elevation Church worship today”. No welcome team of any kind. Only a couple of staff members checking in kids at the different children’s areas. No resource booth. No energetic music or hosts outside the worship center: just a single sign pointing out the printed lyric sheets. A bare stage with a couple of portable speakers and a single mic stand. At each location, a single worship leader came out and led the crowd in music printed on the sheets. 

When it was time for the sermon, Pastor Steven Furtick was onscreen as usual, with a simple greeting: “Welcome to the worst Sunday ever at Elevation Church!” What followed was a powerful message for the church today, based on Jesus’ first public miracle as recounted in John 2:1-11.

  • The wedding scene in John 2 reflected a time when guests received honor; today at many churches, guests show up and we have nothing prepared.
  • Jesus disassociated himself, deferring to another time. He owed nothing at the event, but gave everything. We, who owe everything, give nothing.
  • Mary’s “do whatever He tells you” gave us instructions for obedience.

I was reminded of a comment by Uptown campus pastor Larry Hubatka several weeks before: “You never get the full experience at Elevation until you volunteer.” I wrote it down, and it came back full force today in the absence of all volunteers.

Elevation Church is driven by volunteers: 1,860 volunteers are in the database. Each weekend over 860 volunteers work over 3,295 hour per week in the four broad areas of Family Services, Guest Services, Production, and Administration. 

The powerful close came when Furtick reminded the audience that when Jesus turned the water into wine, the only ones who witnessed the miracle were the servants. When you serve, you get to witness the power of God.

Where do I sign up?

(the numbers at Elevation have changed now – we have 7 campuses, twice as many volunteers, and are continually expanding – but the principle is the same)

Tomorrow: Establishing A Culture of Service