[Catch up on Part 1]

There’s a room in our office complex that has a perpetual supply of week-old Bojangles biscuits and sometimes smells like clam chowder.  We affectionately refer to that room as the “kitchen,” well, because that’s what it is.

My favorite area of the kitchen is a cork board where we post all of the guest feedback cards that we receive in the mail.  Every time a first-time guest fills out an info sheet in the service, we send them a thank-you letter for attending and include a postage-paid card.  In full disclosure, some of the comments that come back aren’t all that edifying.  Helpful?  Yep.  But not warm-fuzzy edifying.  I’ll talk about those another day so we’re keeping it real, but today I’m going to keep it positive, or else the theme o’the day is ruined.

Here are a few responses to our fill-in-the-blank, “This is what I noticed first”… (my comments follow in the parenthesis).

  • Happy people. (Does your church ooze happiness, or do they simply tolerate the fact that they’re there?)
  • Good direction-givers and greeters. (Do guests know where to go when they show up?)
  • Casual dress – loved that! (Are you still encouraging people to dress for a funeral when they’re coming to a celebration?)
And on the “This is what I liked best” line…
  • The woman at the welcome tent that greeted me and personally walked me over to the sanctuary. (Are you still pointing guests to a destination that they’ll forget five seconds after they leave you?)
  • At the nursery they didn’t allow a child to stay because he was sick.  [That’s] hard to do but so appreciated by the other parents! (What hard decisions are you making in the short-term that helps you have a long-term win?)
  • Music and preaching.  Thanks for the water bottle! (Do you “gift” your guests to give them a wow! moment that breaks down their defenses?)
  • Several people introduced themselves to me. (Are your official greeters the only ones doing the talking?  Guests notice!)
Bottom line: every person who sent back a card – and those who didn’t – thought they knew what to expect.  Some of them may have had their expectations met.  Some may have been disappointed.  But my prayer is that a majority of them had their expectations exceeded.
When you exceed someone’s expectations, you raise the possibility that that someone will return a second time.  When they return a second time, you raise the possibility that they will hear the Gospel again, that they’ll build relationships, and that they’ll stick.
Summit peeps, as we dive into the new Why I’m Not a Christian series this weekend, there’s no doubt that we’ll have many new people showing up.  The obvious target audience for this series has some apparent expectations for what they’ll encounter when they come.  What are you doing to shatter, then reset, then exceed those expectations?
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