Bring “The Experience” to Your Church and Elevate Your Guest Experiences to a New Level

As my wife and I drove to our church campus recently, the drizzle became a steady downpour. While we knew that even a few drops of rain is often enough to convince people to stay in bed instead of coming to worship, we also knew that those who chose to come to our campus were in for a treat – most likely a treat few of them had seen, certainly not at church!

The Guest Experience Teams at Elevation Church LOVE IT when it rains – it gives them a chance to demonstrate how they set high expectations, and then exceed them.

You can read more about the specifics here, but my point today is what’s behind those actions.

You see, the Guest Experience Teams at Elevation use their gifts of hospitality and service to welcome, inform and serve Guests. We know the sermon starts in the parking lot (thanks Andy Stanley!)

Most importantly, we know that it takes effort and training to serve our Guests with excellence.

We are continually on the lookout for the best resources to use in training our Guest Experience teams.

And a great resource – from the world of Customer Service – is going to take Guest Experiences to a new level.

All churches have customers – you just call them by a different name.

How can your church be proactive in creating an Experience that will amaze Guests (and everyone coming to your church campus), and help them prepare for worship by being genuinely welcomed?

A great first step is to look to the organization that is known world-wide for its outstanding Guest Services – Disney. And there’s no better place to start than this book – The Experience: The 5 Principles of Disney Service and Relationship Excellence.

What can the Disney organization teach the church about Guest Experiences?

Walt Disney set the standard for Guest Services, and Disney Legends like Van France, Dick Nunis, Marty Sklar, and a host of others refined them over the years. From a single theme park in 1955, Disney has spread literally around the world (and across the oceans) with their unique methods of making everyone feel “magical.”

In 1983, a number of key leaders from across Walt Disney World formed a team that was designed to take the Disney Guest Experience to the next level. A part of that team was a young man tasked to enhance the service and presentation skills of the Disney Cast Members – Bruce Loeffler.

During the next decade, Loeffler and the rest of the team successfully planned, implemented, revised, and then spread basic principles of Guest Experiences to all Disney properties.

In the next two decades that followed, Loeffler continued to refine and extend those principles in his own consulting group. Now, joined by Brian Church, those principles can be found in The Experience.

The heart of The Experience contains five I CARE Principles:

  • Impression
  • Connection
  • Attitude
  • Response
  • Exceptionals

Don’t let the simplicity fool you! Packed along with the 5 principles you will find 10 “Non-Negotiables” for each Principle, followed by “Actionables” designed to help you put the Principle in practice in your own organization. Each Actionable is introduced by a “Quotient Question” to make you think and connect the broad Principle to a specific Non-Negotiable.


Simply Brilliant!

Easy? Not really – but your church doesn’t need easy solutions when it comes to creating a Guest Experience or revising an existing one. If it was easy you would already be doing it.

Here’s a short example of how you can use the information found in The Experience at your church.

I’m going to start at the beginning, and list the first Principle, the first Non-Negotiable, and how I’m going to modify the Actionables in leading the church Guest Experience teams I work with.

I – Impression

Non-Negotiable 1.1 – Engage The first Impression! Engaging and making the effort for initial positive contact.

Quotient Question How demonstrative and strategic are the efforts to make positive first Impressions with your Guests?

Actionable To the Guest, your Guest Experience Teams are the church – at least the first face of the church. It is your job to initiate and create a positive first Impression with each Guest you encounter.

Try This

> When first meeting a Guest, be personable and friendly. Welcome them with a genuine smile, eye contact, and a warm greeting. Rehearse this with your team and consider having a warm-up for teams that have contact with Guests. Consider it your “engagement calisthenics.”

> Before you start your day serving, take a moment in your team huddle and give each other a big smile – just in case you forgot what it looks like, Next, try a frown, next anger, next confusion, and finally apathy. It is important for you to see what Guests might see every day – and how it looks on you!

> Look Guests directly in the eye. The more genuine your warmth is, the more it reflects in your eyes as a smile. When you look Guests in the eye, it demonstrated confidence in yourself and a primary reason to trust you. Start with your team, building the eye contact habit – and watch the level of how people Experience you increase.

How simple – and how powerful – is that?

I deal with Guest Experience materials every day in my passion of helping churches make the best First Impression on Guests as they come to their church campuses. Like The Experience, almost all of them come from the world of Customer Service in the business world. Many of them are good…

…but The Experience has just ushered in a new level of helpful tools for Guest Experience leaders and teams to improve their game. Wisely, the authors caution against trying to do too much. The final chapter presents a “One Level Challenge” that encourages you to identify 12 areas that will become a monthly growth point for your teams over the next year.

Imagine having a readily-adaptable action plan for the encouragement and training of your Guest Experience Teams for the next year!

That’s just one of the benefits The Experience delivers.

The I CARE Principles and their supporting Non-Negotiables found in The Experience are the elements and opportunities that can help you enhance the Guest Experience for your church.

If you don’t have this excellent resource, I strongly recommend you order a copy of The Experience today – NOW – and begin a journey to Guest Experience Excellence.




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