Before being called into full-time Church Communications ministry, I spent about 15 years working in the customer service industry for two major clothing companies. (Yes, that’s 15 Black Fridays and 15 Christmas seasons.) Oftentimes I was forced to endure — er, I mean, attend — mandatory meetings and training sessions designed to better enhance my skills as a retail employee. I’ll be honest: I utterly loathed these so-called meetings. I can’t tell you how often I thought to myself, “I’ve been doing this for over a decade. Why do I need to drag myself out of bed to attend a 7:00AM meeting on a Saturday morning?” Not even the free doughnuts and coffee made up for sitting through two hours of mind-numbing content, cheesy corporate videos, and monotonous lectures from managers who didn’t want to be there any more than I did.
But the truth is that even the most seasoned and experienced employee needs to be reminded of the basics from time-to-time while simultaneously remaining open to learning new and innovative ways of seeing and doing things. And one thing folks in the customer service biz are learning now more than ever is that people place an extremely high value on convenience. In fact, I would argue that, when it comes to businesses and restaurants, COVID-19 has caused people to value convenience more than community or relationships, at least for the foreseeable short-term future.
You don’t have to look much further than Chick-fil-A and Starbucks to see what I mean here. One caters more to convenience, one more to a community atmosphere. I’m a regular connoisseur of both, but sadly my local Starbucks hasn’t allowed customers to sit inside at tables (community) since the start of COVID. Sure, you can still walk in and place an order, but once you’ve received your beverage, you have to leave. No more coffeehouse atmosphere office sessions for me. Of course Chick-fil-A just opened up a third drive-thru line and kept moving those cars right on through. Why? Because they prioritize efficiency and convenience.
And so do church seekers and first time guests. They aren’t a part of your community fellowship yet.
With that in mind, here are a few habits churches need to ditch if they want to have any chance of seeing guests return for a second visit: