February 28, 2024

Structuring Your Staff to Reach & Connect New People – Episode 337 | The Unstuck Church Podcast

structuring your staff to reach connect new people

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Reaching & Connecting New People (Part 4)

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In our current series, we’ve been talking all about how to connect with new people wellā€”both how to make their first time connecting with us a great experience, and how to help them take their next steps after that.

In the final episode of our series, we’re going to focus on what kind of staff structure and roles are needed to be a church that reaches and connects people well.

After all, the way we staff and structure our team is revealing of what we really prioritize as a ministry.


In this episode, Amy will walk step-by-step through every new person’s experience with a church. Then, through that lens, we’ll talk about the roles and the structure that is necessary to be ready for these new people and to help them get connected and take a next step.

  • The journey of a new guest
  • Four dedicated leaders every church needs
  • Staffing & structure for connecting new guests
  • Staffing & structure for encouraging next steps

Reaching & Connecting New People in 2024

At this free webinar, the Unstuck team & special guests will walk through proven strategies and best practices for creating intentional weekend services that reach and connect with new people.

Your building and your website are two extremely influential pre-visit experiences that help determine if people currently not connected to your church will be willing to give it a try. [episode 337] #unstuckchurch Click To Tweet Guest experience leaders need to have an eye for what the outsider sees and experiences at every step of their journey. [episode 337] #unstuckchurch Click To Tweet Every church needs a dedicated leader over their spiritual formation/discipleship pathway to ensure that these steps are working in tandem with one another. [episode 337] #unstuckchurch Click To Tweet We need to clearly communicate and expose people to the next steps we believe they need to take, and then we need to cast vision around them. [episode 337] #unstuckchurch Click To Tweet
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This Episode is Sponsored by SecureGive:

Giving presents challenges for growing churches. Cumbersome donation forms and dated administrative features of most giving systems leave you lacking the tools you need. But, SecureGiveā€™s 7-in-1 system makes donating easy and secure, provides in-depth analytics and management tools for your team, and integrates with your Church Management System. Itā€™s the system that scales to fit the needs of growing churches.

For our Unstuck listeners, SecureGive is offering 6 months of free software to get your church started. Visit SecureGive.com/unstuck to learn more.

Other Episodes in This Series:

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We use #unstuckchurch on Twitter, and we start a real-time conversation each Wednesday morning when the episode drops. You can follow me @tonymorganlive and The Unstuck Group @unstuckgroup. If Facebook is where you spend your time, I’m there, too.

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Sean (00:02):

Welcome to The Unstuck Church Podcast, where each week we are exploring what it means to be an unstuck church. One of the primary reasons ministry plans fail is that there’s no one ultimately responsible for them. Sure, we might think that the entire team is responsible, but if one person doesn’t feel the weight of ownership, it’s unlikely that the plan will be effective. On this week’s podcast, Tony and Amy continue our series on reaching and connecting with new people with a conversation on how churches can structure their staff teams with newer attendees in mind. Before we get into today’s episode, though, I want to tell you about an upcoming opportunity we have for leaders of multisite churches. Our next multisite leader cohort kicks off April 23rd, and registration for it closes on March 8th. During this year-long cohort, you’ll get to connect with executive pastors and multisite directors from nine other like-minded churches around the most common challenges every multisite church is telling us they’re facing right now and actively get to participate and learn from each other. To learn more and secure your seat, check out the information in your show notes. Now, before this week’s conversation, here’s Tony.

Tony (01:11):

Giving presents challenges for growing churches. Cumbersome donation forms and dated administrative features of most giving systems leave you lacking the tools you need. But SecureGive’s 7-in-1 system makes donating easy and secure and provides in-depth analytics and management tools for your team. It also integrates with your church management system. It’s the system that scales to fit the needs of growing churches. For our Unstuck listeners, SecureGive is offering six months of free software to get your church started. You can visit securegive.com/unstuck to learn more.

Tony (01:45):

Well, welcome to The Unstuck Church podcast. I love going first because that means, Amy, I’m gonna be asking the questions, and you’re gonna be bringing most of the content today. Am I right?

Amy (02:06):

I think that’s right, given what we’re talking about.

Tony (02:10):

We’re gonna talk about staffing here in a second. But, Amy, have you been engaging with churches recently?

Amy (02:17):

I have. Man, it’s been a blast. Just got back on Sunday from working with a great church out in Pennsylvania and looking forward to head down to South Carolina this next week to work with another one of my favorite churches. I’ve been, I’ve known them now at, I think, Tony, we’ve served them for four or five years now. So, fun to get back and work with them again.

Tony (02:36):

Yeah, absolutely. Well, as I mentioned up front, Amy, we’ve been talking a lot throughout the series about how to connect with new people well. Both how to make their first time connecting with us a great experience and how to help them take their next steps after that. And today, we’re actually going to focus on what kind of staff structure and what roles are needed to be a church that connects people well. And, Amy, since you’re our, you are our resident expert when it comes to staffing and structure, I’m going to let you take the lead on this one. So, are you, you’re good with that?

Amy (03:13):

Yeah. And actually, when I was thinking about this topic this week, I thought about how it all starts really with a person’s first time coming to church. So, let me start today. You’ll hear my passion area in this one, Tony. But let me start today by walking kind of step-by-step through every new person’s experience with a church. And through that lens, we’ll talk about the roles and the structure that’s necessary to be ready for those new people and to help them get connected and take a next step.

Tony (03:42):

That sounds great.

Amy (03:42):

All right. So, when we think about how a new person gets connected to your church, it actually starts with the pre-visit. And what’s the pre-visit, you might ask? Well, there’s two key things that a new person often experiences before they ever step foot inside a church, Tony. First, I think it’s the building itself if the church is on a visible public road. But many people are forming opinions just by driving by the building. I can think about that in my own town. We have what we call kind of church row, and there is, there’s, there are things I think about those churches as I drive past them all. So, how that building looks, I think, will inform an opinion and play into a person’s decision to either take a next step towards the church or not.

Tony (04:24):

That’s right, Amy. In fact, when we, when we secret shop churches, that’s one of the things we look at first. Is the building a draw? Was the signage clear? Was it readable? Was it professional? The bottom line we ask is, “Did the external look of the church and the accompanying signage help draw me to attend the church? Or did it do the opposite?”

Amy (04:46):

That’s right. And sometimes, it’s hard to remember what our building looks like when we are connected to a church, but hopefully, for all of our listeners, you can picture those kind of church rows in your town, too, and take a fresh look at some of those buildings and then think about yours. The second key area, Tony, a person often visits before they visit is the website. So, we often ask the question, “Does the website and our online presence help draw me to attend the church?” And the first thing a new person, I believe, will notice is if the website is voiced to them or if it’s voiced to all the insiders at the church. And again, when we do this, when we evaluate church websites, we ask questions like, “Does this feel like a place that I could go to just as I am? Was the content they displayed, was it relevant? Can I easily find information about what to expect? Were service times prominently displayed?” And if the answer to those questions are positive, I think people will explore a little further. Maybe even watch part of a church’s service online so that they can understand what it’s about and what to expect. But if it doesn’t check the boxes of those questions I asked, I personally, I think I might stop before that point and maybe not take that next step to get connected to the church. And so, overall, the key takeaway here is that these two pre-visit experiences are extremely influential on if people currently not connected to your church, will be willing to give it a try.

Tony (06:13):

Absolutely. Okay, Amy, say this new person checks out the website, and they do, they do decide to show up on Sunday. What’s next?

Amy (06:23):

The next thing I think a new person experiences is just driving onto your property. And while it might seem obvious, again, I bring this up because once you’re connected to a church, you probably don’t even think about these things anymore. You’ve like habituated to your environment, and you probably already know where to go. And so, let me just highlight one area that will help connect new people or, I think, drive them away. And it’s your signage. You know, some people call it wayfinding, but simply put, it’s asking, “Can a brand new person easily find their way around? Are there signs to help a new person find the essential areas like kids’ ministry, the bathrooms, the worship environment?” And while this isn’t a super common experience, while I’m secret shopping, I actually have been to a few churches that were so big, meaning the grounds and the facility were so spread out, that the only way I really knew where to go was by where most of the cars were parked. And then, when I went inside again, it was just, it was confusing. It wasn’t designed for the outsider.

Tony (07:23):

Yeah, I’ve had that similar experience for sure. One particular church had several different venues, and the signage was so, so poor that if I wasn’t being paid to secret shop, I might have just turned around because of how exposed I felt walking around aimlessly.

Amy (07:39):

That’s right.

Tony (07:39):

Not being able to find my way around the building. I mean, most churches do this pretty well, but it’s important to highlight it because it’s an important part of a new person’s ability to connect at the church.

Amy (07:50):

And a lot of people just wanna find where they need to go. And so I like how you described that. You know, when you feel like you’re walking aimlessly, you start to feel like this spotlight is on you. But, anyways, continuing on the journey, the next critical experience for connecting with new people is really the quality of your guest services team. And ideally, the guest service team will put me at ease and make me feel like this is a place where I would fit. And I don’t know, great guest service team members, I don’t know how else to say it, but they just have a high E.Q., Tony. They can read people, meaning they don’t under-greet or over-greet. And, ideally, you know, when I secret shop or even when I just go to new churches, hopefully, there’s someone that looks a bit like me, people that are my age. And so we have to have diversity in those guest service teams. And if I had my kids with me, of course, I hope they would greet my kids and help me figure out where to go. Just one shout-out, one positive experience I had, and I have a lot of good guest experiences, by the way. But, I, one positive experience I had in this area was with a church, The Journey out in Newark, Delaware. I was secret shopping both of their locations. And the person who met me at the door had such a high E.Q., both locations. They greeted me well, and they said, “By the way,” and they pointed out, you know, “There are the restrooms, and over here’s the auditorium. The service starts in about 10 minutes, you know; so feel free to grab a cup of coffee. And I hope you have a great experience.” Just so easy. And, by the way, he actually caught me. One of them caught me at one of the locations after the service, and again, in a really comfortable way, asked me how the experience was. So, that was a great one.

Tony (09:29):

That that is, I’m pretty proud of the folks at The Journey, Mark Johnston and the team there. And by the way, I was just connecting with them recently. Their church is just growing like gangbusters, and so fast that they’re, they’re actually trying to hire some new people to join the team just to keep up with the pace of growth that they’re experiencing. So, but kudos to The Journey for that great guest experience on Sunday morning.

Amy (09:58):

Yeah, definitely. And, and then, to go on after hopefully interacting with the guest services team, a new person is now handed to the team that puts the weekend service together when they go through those auditorium doors. And again, here’s what I’ve observed from weekend service teams who do it right, meaning the teams that do this best at connecting with new people. First, they give cues that they’ve been expecting new people. You know, at the top of the service before the band starts playing and everyone stands up, they actually welcome new people specifically, and they let them know what they’re going to experience.

Tony (10:32):

Yeah. Amy, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to a church and at the end of the countdown, the worship leader just yells, “Welcome, everyone! Let’s stand!” And then they jump straight into music and singing, and I have no idea what the song is, if I should participate. And some of them eventually welcome new people, but then, it’s, it’s, you know, 30 minutes into the service. And so, it’s just not, it’s as if they’re not expecting new people to show up for a service on Sunday morning.

Amy (11:01):

Yeah, I see that, too. I think the lead pastor is often tuned into new people in the room, and so they give that welcome. But it’s like you said, it’s already halfway through the experience. Tony, I was recently at a church where what you just described was my experience. The worship leader shouted, “Welcome, church!” over the music and then asked everyone to stand up. And I watched them sing for 15 minutes, and then, they moved right into communion. And again, there wasn’t a word spoken to me, the new person, to explain or introduce what was happening. And it’s easy to miss if we’re not really expecting new people to show up. But when guests are welcomed at the top of the service and are given a few just simple cues as to what they should expect, it makes a tremendous difference in their ability to just relax and take, take the experience in. The next part of the experience is the teaching. And when we talk about teaching that helps people connect and take a next step, there’s a few things that we inspect. And I won’t go through all of them, but we think about things like engagement. “Did it, was it delivered in a, this authentic way? And did the speaker use, I don’t know, illustration story, humor that connected with me and related with me?” Those things are really important on that engagement side. And second, a big question we ask is, “Was it practical? Did it address a real need in my life? You know, did the teacher take that biblical content and present it in a way that was relevant to everyday life?” And I think, Tony, that’s probably one of the most important questions. Because if we wanna connect with people so that they take their next step, if we have a message or a teaching that doesn’t apply to life, my life, then I’m wondering if that hour was worth it. Do you agree?

Tony (12:43):

Yeah, I do, Amy. I mean, if we’ve designed this experience well, a, a new person is going to want to come back. And for brand-new people, that really is the next step that we want them to take. We just want them to come back again in the future.

Amy (12:58):

That’s right. And, Tony, that’s why I really enjoyed the Try5 example that we talked about a few episodes back where Pastor Nate and his team at Lifepointe are simply focused on getting new people to come back and try it again. Because I think once a person’s been on your campus five times, they’re much more likely ready for that next step and their next way to connect.

Tony (13:20):

Alright. So we’ve walked step-by-step through the journey that every new person takes when visiting your church and the different teams that they encounter along the way.

Amy (13:29):


Tony (13:30):

So, Amy, how can we structure our staff team and hire the right leaders to make this journey as welcoming as possible and encourage new people to take their next steps?

Amy (13:43):

Well, when it comes to the new person’s experience, I think, Tony, there’s a few critical roles that someone on your team needs to be the leader of. And, of course, depending on the size of your church and the size of your team, this may be a staff role or it may be a volunteer role. But either way, you need a dedicated leader over your weekend experience, over your guest services, over your website and over your facilities. These leaders need to have an eye on what the outsider sees and experiences at every step of their journey, just like we outlined. Of course, the senior leadership team at the church needs to be wired this way as well, and they should be inspecting these things and keeping an eye out for it. But we need specific leaders in place to bring the voice of an outsider into every aspect of that weekend experience. And when these things are done well, Tony, I think it’s much more likely that the people who are already connected to your church will actually invite their friends and their family to experience your church.

Tony (14:41):

Yeah. This is one area where it becomes glaringly obvious what churches really value. For example, a church might say they’re committed to reaching new people, but when we take a look at their team, it’s clear that their people resources are more focused on insider programs like adult ministries, Sunday school and things really for the folks that are already connected to the church and, in many instances, already convinced that Jesus is their Lord and Savior. But there’s very little staffing around actually trying to engage with new people and then connect new people to the church.

Amy (15:17):

I, I agree. I’m just gonna say it again ’cause I, I think you’re so spot on. Most of the staffing, when I’m working with the church and I’m looking at their staffing teams, most of the staff is dedicated to those next steps that really people who are already committed to your church need to take. And we are often very light on owners, name those owners who own those critical spaces for the new people that we actually want to come back. So weekend positions, connecting with new people, those key staff leaders or volunteer leaders are gonna be critical. But, now, let’s switch gears to focus on the people who are newer to your church, and maybe they’ve come a few times. Maybe they’ve tried five, but they haven’t taken steps beyond the weekend service yet. So, from a staffing perspective, the key leader that needs to be in place for helping these people take their next step is the dedicated leader over your spiritual formation or discipleship pathway. And, you know, if you’ve listened to our podcast or attended our webinars, listeners, you’ve known Tony and I say the healthiest churches have one designated leader over all of their spiritual formation steps. Because when everyone owns this area, no one does. So, this leader not only defines what the big next steps are that they want people to take as they become a disciple of Christ, but they also need to think of the smaller steps people need to take towards these big steps.

Tony (16:38):

Yeah. And, Amy, one leader over the entire spiritual formation process, as opposed to what we’ve seen in a number of instances where people, there’s leadership over key next steps like connecting to a group or connecting to serving or engaging in missions or all those other things that we want people to do. But they end up being almost teams that are competing for people’s time and attention, rather than working as one team to encourage people to take all those next steps. One of our Unstuck ministry consultants, Chad Hunt, was on the podcast this summer, specifically talking about guest services. And Chad is the senior pastor of Victory Hill Church in Kentucky. And he shared with us how their team uses a funnel diagram to illustrate how they want people to take their next steps. And they talk about it as needing to start with low relationship and low time commitment steps. And each of those little next steps increase in relational capital and time investment as people move through the funnel. And you can hear more about the strategy that they’re using at Victory Hill Church in episode 304.

Amy (17:50):

Yeah, I love that, Tony. And, you know, we’ve already talked about what those little steps might be in that earlier series. So, for the purpose of today’s conversation, the key point I wanna make is that it’s critical for a church to have a leader over that discipleship pathway. And they might be a player coach. They often are, actually, where the leader of the discipleship pathway or the discipleship steps is the leader of groups. And they also oversee serving and missions and prayer and care. But when you have a leader in place, they have to use their wisdom to know when to highlight or lean on a specific next step that you want people to be taking. They need to ensure that those steps are clear, and they’re communicated regularly through the various means. I mean, that could be as simple as keeping those key steps in a worship program if you hand those out. It could be pre-service slides to bring awareness. It could be partnering with the senior pastor on message series to equip him or her to preach around those critical next steps. In other words, we need to clearly communicate and expose people to the next steps that we believe they need to take, and then we can cast vision around them.

Tony (18:54):

Yeah. Amy, in fact, I think it’s fair to say one of the biggest mistakes we see churches make is that they think an announcement is the same as casting vision around a next step that we’re encouraging people to take. Most announcements, they just give the logistics. So, as an example, here’s our event to encourage group connections. This is the time that this event’s gonna occur. This is the room that it’s going to be in and on and on and on. The right leader, though, will ensure that we tell a great story about why being in a small group is so important in the life of following Jesus. And so it’s more about the why that needs, we need to cast that vision for why this step is important, rather than just the logistics, which is typically what we hear in platform announcements.

Amy (19:39):

Exactly. So, just to reiterate, here’s my advice on structuring your spiritual formation area. Put everyone in charge of a, of a spiritual formation step on the same team, and make one of them the leader over all those steps. That leader may still have responsibility, again, for one of the steps, but he or she would also have the added responsibility to ensure that these spiritual formation steps are working in tandem with one another. And like you said earlier, Tony, they are not competing with one another.

Tony (20:07):

Well, I love it, Amy, when we can help churches put good structure around a great strategy to carry out the mission that they’re called to. But any final thoughts that you wanna share as we wrap up today’s conversation?

Amy (20:20):

Sure. I, I wanna once again invite our listeners to join us for our free webinar that’s live tomorrow. If you’re listening to this episode on the day it releases, we’ll actually be joined, Tony, by Chad Hunt, who we mentioned earlier, and two other great voices to discuss how we can use our weekend services strategically and intentionally to reach new people and help them take their next steps. So, I encourage you to register at the link in your show notes, and join us for that conversation tomorrow. And, of course, if your church is struggling in this area of finding the right leaders for these key areas or creating the right structure to align your ministry strategy, we would love to help you, and you can find more information about our staffing and structure process at theunstuckgroup.com.

Sean (21:03):

Well, thanks for joining us on this week’s podcast. At The Unstuck Group, our goal is to help pastors grow healthy churches by guiding them to align vision, strategy, team and action. In everything we do, our priority is to help churches help people meet and follow Jesus. If there’s any way we can serve you and your church, reach out to us today at theunstuckgroup.com. Next week, we’re back with another brand-new episode. Until then, have a great week.

Tony Morgan

Tony is the Founder and Lead Strategist of The Unstuck Group. Started in 2009, The Unstuck Group has served 500 churches throughout the United States and several countries around the world. Previously, Tony served on the senior leadership teams of three rapidly growing churches including NewSpring Church in South Carolina. He has five published books including, The Unstuck Church, and, with Amy Anderson, he hosts The Unstuck Church Podcast which has thousands of listeners each month.

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