The more perfunctory something seems, the less a guest will feel any genuine sense of welcome.
I had just boarded my eighth plane in two weeks. Not my usual rhythm, mind you. I’m behind-the-scenes at The Unstuck Group. Or maybe “behind-the-screen” would better define it. Anyway, I sat down for the last leg of my trip home, iPhone in hand, earbuds in place, podcast episode starting up.
The flight attendants ran through their mandatory script, trying to smile while no one paid attention. (That’s a tough gig, really.)
We sat on the runway. We took off. The usual drill.
Then the captain came on to welcome the special passengers. This always happens, but for some reason it stood out to me this particular day.
“We want to say a special welcome to our airline credit card holders. We sincerely value your loyalty…” and so on.
Something jumped out at me during this scripted—and rather long—expression of thanks:
It’s the same every single time.
They’re addressing the people who fly this airline very frequently—and they say the exact same thing every time. Things on repeat fade into the background. Quickly.
A colleague who is actually one of these very special flyers told me the crew is evaluated on whether or not they read this welcome over the intercom on each flight.
Read that again:
They’re not evaluated on whether or not reading this script is effective, just on whether not they performed the task on the to-do list.
Turning Off Autopilot
Scripted welcomes and thank you’s don’t actually communicate value. It’s quite the opposite. The more perfunctory something seems, even if the intent was good, the less the recipient of the gesture feels any genuine appreciation.
Most churches want to be welcoming. Here at The Unstuck Group, we talk a lot about ways to make a good first impression for new guests. Here are a few recent examples:
- 4 Effective Ways to Connect With New Guests
- Greeting or Welcoming? Hospitality Is In the Details.
- How to Make a Guest’s First Sunday Count
- Thom Rainer on How to Become a Welcoming Church – Episode 55 |
The Unstuck Church Podcast
We do think you need to welcome first-time guests in your service. It needs to be a simple way to help them feel like you expected them and value them—which means you need to come across as sincere, not rote.
Take a look at this moment in your last month’s worth of services. Did it sound and feel the same every time? How would you rate that part of the service if you were evaluating through the lens of a first time guest?
Also consider the second visit, or the third visit, or even the casual but regular attendee…
When your “We’re Glad You Are Here” moment in the service starts to fade into the background, what else about the experience makes someone feel welcome? Valued?
My bet is that the airline credit card-holding, frequent flyers don’t feel valued in the least by that script. I bet they feel valued when they need to cancel a trip last minute for personal reasons and the person on the other end of the line shows them special respect. I bet they value more legroom, and more space for their luggage and fun vacations made possible by card-holder bonus points.
That is to say—they feel valued by how the people in the organization treat them and how the organization as a whole has thought about and prepared for them.
Including a welcoming moment in your service script matters, but it doesn’t matter as much as finding ways to become a genuinely welcoming church to people outside the faith.
It’s the effectiveness of our strategies, not a welcoming box checked “yes,” that counts.
Curious what your first-time guest experience is really like? That’s something we help you evaluate through the Unstuck Process. Learn how it works.