Recently our church hosted The Gospel Summit, a two-day intensive conference for pastors and church leaders from around the country. During one of my breakout sessions, I talked about some of the previously-unwritten “plumblines” that guide the first impressions ministry at the Summit. Each Monday I’m unpacking one of those plumblines for an expanded discussion. This is the second in a five-part series. You can catch part one here.

The why is more important than the what. 

The First Impressions Team tends to attract a lot of Type A people. They want to know the bottom line, the main objective, the 42 point checklist that will make them the most effective at their job.

That’s what I love about our volunteers: they want to know what it takes to get the job done. The Parking Team wants to understand the ingress plan, lot by lot, in order of priority. The Seating Team wants to know exactly when they’re supposed to drop the barriers in the rear of the auditorium and the nicest phrases to use to move people front and center. The Set Up Team wants to know what goes up in what order to maximize the morning: signage first, then traffic cones, then tents, then the auditorium and lobby walk through.

And we do provide a procedures plan for most of these teams, and we work with team leaders to revise these plans often. Our goal is a standard baseline of service so that we’re not reinventing the wheel every week when it comes to basic tasks.

But the greater goal goes beyond something that we can record on paper or measure with any set of metrics. All of the things listed above are whats: those items that help people accomplish their jobs. But the why is what we ask our team to focus on: the reason they’re showing up every week.

For us, the why is that we serve our guests as a reflection of the generosity of Christ. As our pastor says in his book Gospel, “As Jesus has been to me, so I will be to others.”

We serve well because we’ve been served well. We love well because we’ve been loved well. And we do both of those things in order to move people towards a relationship with Christ.

If we help our teams understand this, then the checklist fades into the background. The what helps our team prepare for guests; the why helps them respond to guests. When your team gets the why, they will understand the right thing to do in just about any situation. When they know the why, they don’t need you to hold their hand through their morning of service. When the why moves to a heart level, they’ll foster an environment that will make every person feel like a valued guest.

The why will give you the big idea…the win for your team.  Memorize the why, guard the why, and make the why part of your team’s DNA, and you’ll always have the right answer or course of action.

Seth Godin says it best: “The minute you follow instructions,  you’re no longer an artist.”

So what’s your team’s why? Start the discussion below.

Check out the rest of the Plumblines series: Part OnePart ThreePart FourPart Five.