I want to you to consider all of the options a family has on a Sunday morning.
If, by the time a family in your community has weighed all of their weekend options, they arrive at your church to drop their kids off – you need to recognize that they’ve made a pretty big decision. And, what happens in their first 5 minutes and last 5 minutes will shape their memory of your program.
A few years ago, I was interviewing a handful of applicants for an internship position at our church. A young man had submitted his resume and had reached the point in our application process where he came in for a face-to-face interview. Let me share a couple memories from the first and last moments of this interview:
Me: “Welcome [applicant], make yourself comfortable.”
Applicant: *trips* *falls* *gets up and takes a seat*
Me: “Are you alright?”
Applicant: *sneezes* *wipes large amounts of snot onto his shorts* “… can I start over?”
Me: “Thanks, [applicant] for your time. As we wrap things up, do you have any questions for us – or is there anything about you that you haven’t shared and you’d like us to know?”
Applicant: “Well… I failed a couple courses in college. Do you need to know that? It’s not because I didn’t do the projects – I just never finished them. I have a hard time finishing things. I get kind of bored easily. That’s why I’m taking some time off of school. I want to do something a little easier…”
Applicant: “…can I start over?”
I came across some paperwork from this interview a few days ago and, to be quite honest, I was surprised at all of the notes I had taken. In my memory, this interview only lasted a few minutes… though, in reality, it was much longer. This guy will always be the clumsy/lazy/sneezer in my mind because of the first and last impressions he gave our team. The reality is, he never got to start over. There was no RESET button on his interview.
This weekend, you have a chance to make first and last impressions on families in your community. They will see, in their first 5 minutes, how much you care about cleanliness and hygiene. Flu season is around the corner… do you have hand sanitizer readily available in your ministry environments? Parents will know, at first glance, if you have a process in place to keep their children safe and secure in your ministry. But, if you have a check-in system, you need to evaluate how quick it is. If your check in process takes longer than 180 seconds, Gina McClain would says that you’re making one of the biggest mistakes possible in children’s ministry.
When parents return, are you being strategic about your last impressions? Parents are going to ask kids two basic questions during pick-up: 1) Did you have fun? and 2) What did you learn? If children in your program cannot answer those questions, that is the thing most parents will remember. If you hope for a family to return, you need to make sure you’re being intentional about the last impressions they have as they leave campus.
At the end of the day, your ministry has one shot to make a first impression. Many parents decide whether or not they will return to a church long before they make it to your worship center or sanctuary. Help them make the decision to return by evaluating the first impressions they have on your church’s campus.