It’s the simple things…

Who wants more visitors? Who wants your visitors to come back? We all do!! Several years ago, Outreach Marketing did a survey of the top reasons people come back after their first visit. Preaching wasn’t very high on the list. Actually, the top three were Music, Children’s Ministry, and Rest rooms. Rest rooms? Yep, why? Because a good rest room can make as good a first impression as a friendly greeter and a bad one can do just the opposite!

First impressions matter!

It’s hard to emphasis how important it is to make a good first impression. The first impression skews all other impressions. Often, if you don’t make a good first impression, you don’t get an opportunity to make a second one.

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you know I’m a relatively new father (first year under the belt!) This new place in life has caused me to evaluate churches I visit differently. Places that I have visited in the past are now seen through the eyes of a parent and those eyes see things differently. Bennett is so incredibly precious to me, if I see something that makes me uncomfortable about the kids’ ministry, then he’s not going in. Interestingly enough, it’s not the flash or pizzazz that draws me in. Those things are fun, but not necessary. Simple is fine – if I make it past the check-in in desk. And surprisingly, that’s harder than you think.

When I visit a church, I’m typically going to arrive 5-10 minutes before church starts. If I show up as a visitor and you’re not ready for me, it’s a BIG turnoff. If I show up as a visitor and you don’t know where I need to go, it’s a BIGGER turnoff. Honestly, these two things will probably be enough for me to decide to keep Bennett with me. But if I show up and I’m told “the teacher hasn’t arrived yet” or “I don’t know who’s supposed to be here, I can take him until they show up”, that’s the BIGGEST turn off.

One of the mistakes churches make is treating everyone like they’re already part of the “family.” You want to be welcoming, but first time guests need to be treated different. Don’t assume they’ve made the choice to call your church home. You need to spend some extra energy to “woo” them.

Here are some simple things you can do to help create a positive first impression:

  • Have you check-in computers (or papers) ready 20 minutes before church begins.
  • Have a knowledgable volunteer (knows where classes meet, etc.) stationed at the desk 20 minutes before church begins and stays all the way through service.
  • Make sure the area is clean and free of clutter.
  • Have your classrooms staffed 20 minutes before service begins.

That’s it.

Are there other things you can do? Absolutely. But it’s the simple things that help make a good first impression. Bad programming can wipe out any gains you make on your first impression, but if you make a good first impression you may have a chance to correct those challenges. While good programming will have a hard time overcoming a bad first impression.

So, take a look – what is the impression you’re leaving on first time guests?

Stroke of genius or finally focused?

This past Saturday, I spent two hours in the morning and then two hours in the afternoon cleaning and organizing my garage. It was a hot and sweaty endeavor. Morning session was primarily throwing things away. The afternoon session was one of those kind of things that I really enjoy, it was completing little projects that needed to be done. I’m a big checklist kind a guy, so when I can tick off a few things on the list it feels really good. In total, I completed a half a dozen projects that had been on the list of things to do for several months. None of them took terribly long, I had just finally taken the time to get them done.

I had a similar experience at church just before Easter. We have lighting issues in our balcony when we dim the lights in the house, people can’t see the steps. Over the last several years we’ve had many people either stumble/trip or just full-out fall down. We’ve been very fortunate in that there haven’t been any major injuries. The lighting issue in the balcony isn’t new. It’s actually existed since the building was built in 1988.
I decided that the problem had to be fixed before Easter of this year. So, the facilities director and I sat down to come up with several different ideas. After several ideas (some good some insane) I finally decided how we would fix the problem. It involved running LED strip lighting down the wall and letting it illuminate the floor. It turned out to be a wonderful addition. As I was showing my pastor our handiwork, he asked a question “This is great, why didn’t we think of this sooner?”

The answer I came up with kind of disappointed me in myself. I told them it hadn’t been fixed because I hadn’t made it a priority to think through how to solve this problem.
This past weekend in the garage reminded me of this lesson. What we got done at Easter and what I got done in the garage on Saturday can make it look like I was really productive. Or based upon some of the solutions that I came up with, it could make me look like I had a stroke of genius! And while the answers to some of the problems may have been clever and creative, they weren’t really genius. They were really the result of taking time to finally focus on a problem that I knew existed.

Sometimes, as leaders, we avoid problems that we might have answers to just because it’s going to take time, effort, and money to fix them. We need to spend time focusing on known issues and fixing those. Sometimes we look for the big, the exciting, the public problems to solve, but it’s the everyday problems that we can provide solutions to which will help the organization.

So ask yourself, what problems have you avoided or what problems do you know exist that you don’t need a stroke of genius for, you just need to spend a few minutes focusing on finding a solution?

#OneYearAgo today…The Five Year Miracle That Happened One Week.

There were a lot of things that happened one year ago today. Rather than try and do 4-5 posts on Facebook, I thought a blog post would be easier.

Bennett was originally due on July 10, 2013. It became apparent that he was going to come early. We didn’t want to wait in Virginia for a call and potentially miss his birth, that’s why we left after church on June 30, 2013.

We arrived in Hot Springs, AR on July 1 @ 2:55pm (yes, that’s how vivid the memory is for me.) After we got the rundown on the situation, we setup an appointment the next day with our attorney. We needed to discuss how to proceed since the biological father was planning on contesting the adoption.

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July 2, we met with our attorney. He advised us to proceed like everything is fine. The biological father wasn’t listed on the putative father registry in Arkansas and therefore didn’t have any legal standing. While we were meeting with Nick, we got a call…Bennett’s birth mom had gone into labor.

We went to the hospital and waited for the big moment. We didn’t have to wait too long! At 1:52 pm on July 2, 2013 Bennett Lee Click was born! Below are the first two pictures we took him.

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Yeah, it’s was on our phones, but it was all we had.

Heather’s family was very excited!

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About 30 minutes later, we were able to go up to the room to meet Bennett and his biological parents. Unfortunately, Bennett’s birth mom didn’t want a picture taken of her – but she could have been related to Heather. She was very nice and outgoing. His biological father was cordial.

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It was an amazing afternoon. We spent about 20 minutes in the room with everyone. Then we had to leave. Bennett’s birth mom had decided she wanted 24 hours with him before we took custody.

As we left, they took Bennett to the nursery to get him warmed up. We stood there forever just watching him. Our son had finally arrived.

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We had to wait another 24 hours. Birth mom could change her mind still. Biological dad was going to contest the adoption. But we were still rejoicing – our miracle was ready.

Prove You’re Smart – Quit Reinventing the Wheel! #kidmin

caveman-wheel     In my twenty-six years of Children’s Ministry, I have learned something very important – I don’t have to figure everything out. A lot of the problems and challenges I face within ministry have been experienced before, by someone else! Learning from experience is good, but learning from someone else’s experience is better! All too often though, we as “the leader/guru” of children’s ministry at my local church, feel the need to come up with a new and amazing solution for a common every day problem. It’s like I wrote about a whole ago – we can create a Rube Goldberg machine for ministry. Imagine if for every car made in America, we assigned a rookie technician the job of creating something that would allow the car to move. What would they eventually come up with? A WHEEL! But how long would it take them? Fortunately, we don’t do that. And guess what? You don’t have to do that at your church either.

ScratchCover     There’s a new resource coming out that you can help bring to the marketplace. “Your Children’s Ministry From Scratch” is a tool for churches so they can avoid recreating the wheel with each problem they face. Like many great ideas, this project needs your support. Trisha Peach, the author, is an experienced children’s pastor. I’ve known her for many years, we both graduated from North Central University…a little while ago.

In her new book, the tools and resources provided will help a new Children’s ministry or an experienced Children’s ministry! Can you help her by providing funding to bring her new book to the local church? There’s only 37 hours left in the kickstarter campaign – so if you like to wait until the last-minute, we’re getting close! You can help out by clicking here and selecting a level of support. Thanks for being a part of this effort to help equip small and large churches to reach more kids for the Kingdom!!