Weekend Service or Weekend Experience?

Whenever I serve as a secret shopper in churches, I try to look for things that can be easily changed and bring quick results. Usually the order of service always makes it to my report. I have experienced about every flavor. Some services feel like a race car that would hit seventy miles an hour, slam on the brakes and repeat. In other churches, the services were formatted and predictable. The bulletin told you when to stand up, sit down, stand up again and when to pray. 

 Regardless of your approach to Sunday, I think there is a critical question to be asked; "Do we want to create a weekend service or a weekend experience?" There is a huge difference between the two. Whenever my wife and I go to a Kentucky Wildcats game in Lexington, it's more than a game. We put on our blue attire and anticipate a great evening. When we walk through the doors of Rupp Arena, there is a buzz in the air. People are excited, giving out high-fives and cheering, "We're #1!" While the game is the best part of the evening, the blue-painted faces, pre-game cheering and interaction with the fans make it more than a game...it's an experience. 

When we think about a Sunday weekend experience, we have to think deeper than the stage or pulpit; preaching is the centerpiece of the day and an important part; but it isn't the only part. For both new guests and members, the experience begins when they pull into the parking lot. Is there an excitement in the air when they enter the building? Are people happy to see other people (especially new people)? We may never get people to paint their faces blue on Sunday, but here's six things that can help you to create a weekend experience instead of a weekend service:


Do you have intentional teams in place with a rehearsed game plan? Think outside of the box; do something different, like building a ninja team. There's no better way for new guests to begin their experience than being engaged with warm and friendly helpfulness.
Pre-Service Music 

Is there high-energy music playing in your community areas? There's nothing more weird for a new person than walking into a quiet room of whispers and side conversations. Music creates a comfortable environment for everyone, even new people, to have conversations. 
Worship Style 

I have seen churches attempt to either blend traditional and contemporary, or have two different services. Consistency is important, whether you have one or multiple services. You must approach worship with today's generation in mind...which means hymnals will not deliver an attractive, relevant experience. 

Awkward pauses, misplaced announcements can make a Sunday experience feel choppy.  Be strategic with your transitions. Try to keep something in the background through each transition. Silence kills the flow and energy on Sunday mornings.

The weekend experience begins as soon as a new person walks into your building. Reaching and keeping new people means having a facility that doesn't take people back to the Beaver Cleaver era. You would be amazed what a little paint, wall vinyl and a scheduled "throw away old junk" day can do for your facility.

For new guests, the experience doesn't really have to end when they leave the building; you have an opportunity to extend it with the right follow up. Start with a nice (short) hand written letter with a P.S. (which always gets read). Make sure the P.S. points them to a simple next step for when they return.

What are you doing to create a healthy weekend experience?


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