It’s week three of a new series called Taking the Guesswork Out Of Guest Services. If you’re a pastor or ministry leader of a church with no guest services team, a lagging guest services team, or a firing-on-all-cylinders team, or anywhere in between, we’re going to talk about the factors that make your team great. Submit your questions for future weeks in the comments below.

If you’re not a pastor or ministry leader and this sort of guest services nerd talk bores the mess out of you, feel free to watch this video of a sloth swimming.

A solid team begins with a strong vision.

Notice that I didn’t say a solid team begins with casting a strong vision. Plenty of people are great vision casters. Too few are great vision setters. And there’s a difference.

A strong vision at the outset of your team will define the team’s future culture. It will help you know your benchmarks, wins, and goals. It will almost self-define your to-do list as you try to get your team and your system off the ground.

But to help your team get the vision, you have to set the vision. So how do you do that?

  1. Study the subject of guest services like crazy. There are a growing number of resources out there from books to blogs to Twitter accounts, all authored by men and women who eat, drink, and breathe this stuff. Reading them will help you clarify what your process will look like. Here’s a post I wrote a few years back on some of my favorite resources, and here is a more updated document. In addition, one of my new favorite voices is Bob Adams’ blog. Also, you should visit lots of churches of lots of sizes who do guest services well. One 2-hour visit to another church will give you as many (if not more) ideas than a 200 page book.
  2. Contextualize for your setting. One of the great sins of church ministry is that we try to drag and drop what works in someone else’s context. Hear me: a megachurch first impressions model will not work at Possum Holler Baptist in Lickskillet, WV. In addition, not everything that works in a church your size can or should be replicated in your setting. We steal lots of ideas from lots of people, but at the end of the day we recognize that a model must be modified to fit our values, existing ministries, budgeting, staff structure, etc. In other words, we Summitize it.
  3. Develop some plumblines. A plumbline is simply a short, pithy statement that illustrates a big value. This took me a painfully long time to recognize and implement. As a matter of fact, it’s only been within the last year that we’ve built ’em. But they have done more to help us figure out what we value (and don’t value) than anything we’ve ever done. My goal is that every member of our team will be able to rattle off these plumblines in their sleep. The plumblines will be the thing that helps them define the right thing to do and the right moment in which to do it. We’re still clarifying and revising these, but you can see the starter series here.
  4. Build collaboration. Find some kindred spirits within your church. If there aren’t any, create some. Invite a friend or staff member or volunteer to read through a book with you, to visit another church with you, or to ask the “what if?” questions with you. Doing this allows you to invite someone in to see your blind spots, to dream bigger than you can, and to balance out the ministry you’re seeking to create. Besides, it’s just more fun to have a sidekick.
  5. Ask “What’s next?” Now that you have the vision cemented in your brain, how do you get it out there? How do you cast the vision to your future team? How do you get buy in from your leadership? How do you bring the lead pastor or staff on board? Again, a strong vision will self-define a lot of your to-do list. So start brainstorming, listing, and implementing.

What did I miss? Comment below.

Check out the entire series: