I want every guest to have the same experience my wife and I had on our first visit to Milestone Church – welcomed, valued, and authentically engaged. Since our first visit, Milestone has grown from a hundred to thousands in attendance, but when the heart is the same and the vision is carried, the experience can be replicated. Here are my thoughts on some guest connection FAQ’s to help you carry the vision for reaching people and building lives by welcoming guests this weekend.
Who do I introduce myself to?
That’s easy – people you don’t know! A healthy church is not just welcoming to guest but a genuinely friendly environment. Yes we want to serve our special guest and make them feel especially welcome, along with those who have come for a second time, a month, year, etc. As you are introducing yourself to people you don’t know, you will meet guests along the way.
If you want to intentionally welcome guests, here’s a couple cues to lookout for. First, guests walk in and look around like you did the first day at a new gym, help them find their way around. You’ll also find them sitting down in the auditorium 10 min before the service, reading the service guide/bulletin. For those serving at children’s check-in and classrooms, you have it easy because guests identified themselves! We have volunteer stationed at these check-in kiosks ready to host new families. You can even host them from the curb if you have dedicated guest parking where they identify themselves.
What do I say?
First off, let me tell you what NOT to say… “Is this your first time?” is never a win! For starters, it’s really hard to know and second you’ll be in an odd spot when they say “no, we’ve been coming about three years.” They’ll walk away feeling noticeably-unnoticed and you’ll walk away voicing an internal “I’m a moron!” Ha!
Even when you know it’s their first time, and you get it right – you’re still wrong! When you blindly identify them as a guest it means they stand out for some reason which mis-communicates to them they don’t fit in. Not good. Of course there are many other things you don’t want to say, such as… “When are you expecting?” Don’t say it! Don’t go there! No matter how obvious! ha!
After many mistakes. Here’s my secret line I use every time… “Hello I’m Steve, how long have you been coming to Milestone?” From there I can go pretty much anywhere. “Two years, great have you gotten involved in the growth track?….” or “Two hours, great, I’m glad you’re here…” Based off their response and body language I can tell if they want to talk some more or if that’s enough for now.
How do you remember people’s names?
We are our name. Knowing someone’s name is valuing them as a person, not as a guest, a target, a number, but someone that may be your best friend one day, the first person you lead to Christ, someone you take family trips with down the road. The more you value the individual, the more prone you are to remember their name or try to remember their name.
My secret – I write it down. I know I’ll talk to and meet hundreds of people on the weekend. So after I meet someone new, I discretely walk away pull out my iPhone and put their name and some info in my notes app. If I don’t have my phone, I’ll grab paper, a bulletin, or something I can look back at.
The following week when I see them again, I can greet them by name. There’s no greater way to show people you authentically care about them, then to surprise them by remembering their name. (For church staffers, you can also merge your notes with your standard follow-up process to provide greater personalization.)
What’s the win for connecting with guests?
Make their experience as easy (anxiety free!) as possible by answering questions before they are asked….”Where do we park? Check-in kids? Find classes? Restrooms? Water? Auditorium?” As you answer questions never point, but always guide. As you guide them along, learn about them and find out what they want to know more about. It may be more about Jesus, more about the youth program, more about kids ministry, small groups, outreach, etc.
A very practical win is resourcing them. Give them something of immediate value (coffee, water, pen, Message Series CD, Bible) or getting their information so we can send them a gift, send them information about the church, and inform them of their next steps. We send all of our guests a Sonic gift-card. This is another way we add value, and surprise them with a gift in the mail. “Did you fill out a communication card, we want to send you a gift in the mail?” It’s a small but impact-full way to model the generous giving and living of our members.
Sometimes there is an immediate connection. If the door is opened, maybe take them to lunch, invite them to coffee, welcome them to your small group or schedule a play date with the kids.
Finally, the BIG win of guest connection…… invite them back next week!
“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
Connection is an art, not a science! Prayerfully ask to be used each weekend to impact a life. Ministry may happen at the altar or from the stage, but more than likely it will start with a personal connection in the atrium. Make yourself available to be used by God, get His heart for people, and get them connected!
Colossians 3:23-24 NIV
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
You need a car in the DFW suburbs. Work, school, church, childcare, groceries, practices, errands, etc. no bus, no rail…. Bike, hike, horse, or hitch are your options. (Even tougher with kids.) You can greatly help a family, single-mom, or an individual in need by simply donating your vehicle. Your car could be someone’s miracle!
Milestone Church is full of people that have an extra car and people that have a need for a car. A team and myself are getting in the middle to help connect supply with need. In Acts 4:32-37 we see church leaders administrate in this way. So often people have the heart, but don’t know “how” or “who”. I want to help solve this with a team and resources.
- Milestone’s Auto Donation Page: Click Here
- Donating is hassle free, we will come get the car (running or not) from your home auto-shop or dealership.
- You will receive a tax deduction for the value of the vehicle in recognition of the impact you are making.
- Even if your car is not perfect, we have a Car Ministry team that has started a cash fund and donated services to make sure we get cars in proper working order. Safety inspection, Tires, belts, breaks, tune-ups, etc.
- Financial donations to the fix up fund allows us the ability to take in more donated cars and turn them out in reliable and safer working order. If you would like to do that, just note “Car Ministry” when you give online or with an envelope in service.
Things you can be praying for:
- People to be led by God to donate vehicles as they upgrade, or have extra
- People that know cars and can help assess condition/value/repairs.
- Mechanic/Shop that is willing to donate labor, and parts at cost
- People to join the team to help administrate and prayerfully meet needs
- Additional donation of money to the fix-up fund
- Spiritual impact in peoples lives through the miracle of meeting a need.
If you would like to become part of the Car Ministry Team, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
“I felt so nervous, like when I kissed her for the first time.” I’ll never forget that comment from a guy in my Small Group as he talked about praying with his wife for the first time. I’ve led many men’s groups, pastor a lot of men, strong men, courageous men, but almost all are scared to pray with their wives. Scared of that look, or laugh of rejection. “You? Pray? Ha!”
It reminds me of when I started doing triathlons and made the jump to lycra biking shorts. I put them on and pushed into the pain as I walked out to show my wife. Maybe she would say, “Wow those look good on you.” Or, “You look like a UFC fighter in those.” Nope. She laughed. Yep, that’s what I was expecting. Already pretty insecure honey, thanks for the encouragement. Laughter. Shock. Rejection.
That’s what men are bracing themselves for with the thought of praying with their wives. And considering how far out of left field praying together may be, the fears are granted. “Pray? What did you do?” I have worked on something for a couple of years that has really help guys out by taking some incremental steps towards praying with their wives. Follow these steps at the pace you’re comfortable with, or just go for it.
1st Base: Pray specifically FOR her.
Tell your wife you want to be praying specifically for her and ask her if there is anything you can pray for. Now write it down, don’t forget, pray daily, and follow-up on the need.
2nd Base: Pray silently WITH her.
Every night before going to sleep pause and pray silently together, near each other, at the same time. Close it after a minute or so by saying “Amen”. Before you pray, turn everything else off and even grab her hand when your up to it.
3rd Base: Pray vocally TOGETHER.
Now you’ve worked up to it. Pray out loud for your wife, family, kids… Nothing fancy, and it doesn’t need to be long, or even original. You can build towards that. I pray 90% of the same thing every single night with my wife. (Example below) I don’t get fancy, we’re not on our knees, she’s not crying. We’re having a meaningful, spiritual moment, going to the God who joined us, joined in faith together. Dear Jesus, thank you for my wife, our kids, our health, your provision in our life, I pray that you guard over our minds and dreams as we sleep, I ask your protection over our home, wake us up in the morning full of joy ready to meet with you. We love you Jesus and pray this in your name, Amen.
The best things I can recommend to make this all work, and your marriage work, is going to bed at the same time. I know everybody has excuses but this will help you connect, and keep you out of trouble. If you have to… work from bed, watch TV, read a book, paint, whittle, whatever, but get in bed at the same time. For me personally, this prayer time is a safety on my wife and I’s connection. If I’m not taking care of her, God’s less interested in listening to me. (I Peter 3:7) So before I feel I can genuinely go to God in prayer I have to press in to the tensions there are between us. This makes sure we reset every night. It helps.
I was failing to lead my family in any sort of consistent and meaningful spiritual development. We’d schedule weekly family devotions, but another ball game, practice, school project, or birthday party would usually prevail. We’d do quick daily devos with the flow of life, but my wife and I never felt like it was sticking. So I started to pray about this question. How do we train our kid’s to have our biblical values?
The first verse that came to mind was Proverbs 22:6, “Train a child in the way they should go and when they grow old they will not depart from it.” What stands out to me is the word train. To train, you need a plan, and it must involve repetition, examples, and dialogue to ensure transfer. I realized I needed to simplify what values I wanted my kids to leave our house with, and come up with a multi-year training plan not just a weekly devotional plan. I simplified these values to twelve, one value for each month of the year.
The second verse that came to mind was, Habakkuk 2:2. It says “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. “ So first, I wanted a place to write them out where our kids would see them every day. Second, I wanted to clarify these values so they could run with them. This means they need to be able to remember them easily, repeat them readily, and be able to live them daily.
Here’s how it’s worked… For the last year, every month the value is posted on a huge chalkboard frame in our kitchen eating area. (See picture above) Every time we eat. Every night we pray. Every devotional time. Every time we are in the car together. Every date with the kids…. Every time it naturally presents itself, we try to talk about the value of the month. We talk about biblical character examples. We tell the Bible stories. We talk about other examples from friends, current events and history. And then we often invite the question, “Have you had an opportunity to live this value today?”
After a year of doing this, I must say it has been awesome! The kids love it and are really getting it. The list and strategy may get some edits but I look forward to five, ten years from now, doing the same thing each month. My ultimate prayer would be that these are some of the values they teach their own kids one day.
Below is our list and I welcome you to use it and see if this approach to spiritual development and devotion works well for your family.
January – We honor God with our actions, attitude and words.
Daniel 3 – Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Jonah, John 12, Mary washing Jesus feet, Esther
February – We encourage not discourage others.
1 Samuel 30:6, I Thessalonians 4:18 , Cup filler illustration, put courage in
March – We contribute to the needs of the family.
Ephesians 6:1-3, I Timothy 5:8, Chores, Responsibilities
April – We do not compare to others; what we have, what we do, or what we look like.
Exodus 20:17 , 2 Corinthians 10:12 , Philippians 4:12, Galatians 6:4
May – We tell the truth, regardless of the consequence.
Exodus 20:16, Even when it hurts
June – We honor our father and mother.
Exodus 20:12, Ephesians 6:1-3
July – We do our best and do it right.
Col 3:23-24, Luke 16:10
August – We think of others before ourselves.
Phil 2:1-11, Mark 12:30-31
September – We are responsible for our belongings.
Steward, care for, clean, Luke 16:10, I Corinthians 6:19-20
October – We obey God’s word, the Bible, our source of truth.
Hebrews 4:12, Psalm 119:105, Joshua 1:8
November – We worship God, not stuff, people, or accomplishment.
Exodus 20:3 , Matthew 6:19-21, Matthew 6:33, Romans 12
December – We are givers because God has given to us.
John 3:16, Acts 20:35, 2 Corinthians 9:7
Please comment and let me know if this is helpful. Let me know what I should add, or what you would add to your family’s.
Do you have a plan for your family’s spiritual development?
Do your kids know what your family values are?
What do you want your kids to value when they leave the house?
“I played my best for him” and “He smiled at me” capture the essence of this powerful carol, “The Little Drummer Boy”, written by Katherine Kennicott Davis in 1941. Upon seeing the Magi give their extravagant gifts to Jesus, the poor drummer boy gives all he has—his song, and finds the approval of the baby Jesus.
While the traditional arrangement may not stir deep attachment, the moving notion of the lyric still stirs our hearts. We want to give more to Jesus, but what He really wants is all of who we are, with all that we have, worshipping all of who He is. Above you will see an updated arrangement by Chris Glenn, with vocal sung by Blake Campbell, pushing the limits of percussion and vocal effort to present a truly moving version of “The Little Drummer Boy.”
Whatever it is you are doing today, you can do it your best and do it for Jesus. It may be a drum, a computer, cell phone or shovel, make what’s in your hand worship Jesus, and he’ll be smiling at you.
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” – Colossians 3:23-24