Can your guests tell what you’re all about?
Here’s the challenge. Our Sunday services are typically a practiced journey through a very familiar order of service. We do the things we do and do them to the best of our ability. And, our congregation has learned to appreciate, value, and even be proud of each part. It’s our thing and we do it as good as we can.
But if your “thing” revealing what you are really passionate about?
Remember that your guests are solidifying their first impression of your church in an average of twelve minutes, so while we want to welcome them very well and get off to a good start, do you want them deciding what they think of you without knowing the things you care about most?
We call those things “values” or “priorities.” They are the “why” of our ministries. Unfortunately, our guests often have to attend for a month or more before they begin to know what’s most important to us. They have to sort out what we care about from what we do, and most don’t stay around long enough to get that list figured out.
They think we like to sing, ’cause we do a lot of that. They picked up on how we value teaching since we do a lot of that, even in our smaller events. The probably can tell we like to eat since most of our bulletin items involve food. And they can probably tell that we like to be busy because there’s a lot going on. But is that the right list?
Think of ways you can let your true values show every Sunday. If you value worship (I’m sure you do), help your guests connect the dots by explaining the why behind all this music and those offering moments. If you preach because you believe the Bible is the pattern for life we all need, tell me that! Don’t just assume I know why it’s important.
Why do we take time in a service to shake hands with and smile at others? Because we want to be a family and get to know each other. We value friendships, and here’s a chance to get one started. Again, give me the “why” so I can value the moment like you do.
And try to eliminate those things that don’t reveal your priorities. For example, don’t make announcements just so people will get event details. Let the announcements you make reveal your priorities. So, we encourage everyone to join a small group because we value relationships and the learning that happens best in a smaller setting. We announce small groups because we believe each of us need to be in one.
And we announce an upcoming service project because serving is a way that we grow. Reaching out to others is vital to our development so that’s why we’re serving at the local food kitchen this Saturday. Help people connect the dots between your events and your priorities.
By the way, if you can’t clearly identify a connection between an event and your highest values, don’t waste service time announcing it. There are other ways to get event details communicated! Let your guests see your priorities in everything you do.
On some level, your guests will walk away thinking they know what you care about. So work hard to be sure they have an accurate idea. Yes, the members have living our service order for decades, and we might assume that they know why we do what we do (they probably don’t). But restore the meaning to every moment and make it clear so your guests will know who you are and why you think they should join in to what you are doing.
So what does your church value most? Make a list of the top five and find ways to display those values every Sunday. Knowing what you care about is a critical part of someone’s willingness to become a regular part of your congregation. So give them the info they need to make that choice.