Do you remember the game Candy Land? If you’re not familiar with the iconic board game, please click here. The game is a pathway through gumdrops, lollipops, ice cream, and gingerbread. Woven around players finding King Kandy, the lost king of Candy Land, its creator Eleanor Abbott, who was recovering from polio, designed for the game kids suffering from the disease to enjoy.
At the suggestion of the children, Eleanor submitted the game to Milton Bradley, who purchased it in 1949. The game became Milton Bradley's best selling game surpassing its previous top seller and rivaled games from Parker Brothers.
Now that I have taken some of you down memory lane, and introduced a few of you to the game, I’ve often wondered if Candy Land could also provide a pathway for the church? I’ve put together the idea of Candy Land as a type of guest connections pathway for the church. To view the Candy Land model, please click here.
Using Candy Land as a pathway, churches can assess each area of the Sunday morning experience for a guest. It starts in the parking lot and quickly moves to the greeting experience. Does your church have spaces marked for guest parking? Are there greeters in the parking lot?
Unbeknownst to us, for many first time guests, the worship experience isn’t the first impressions of our churches. Instead, the first impression happens from the time that a newcomer drives on the church property. People will observe the parking lot, assess the physical plant, directional signage, and so on.
Once a guest gets out of his or her car, there needs to be someone to greet them either outside of the church or inside the church narthex or lobby. Guests need to be welcomed at least three times before they are handed off to the ushers, who are responsible for seating people and attending to their needs during worship. After the benediction, I’ve found it to be a good practice to have greeters wish everyone farewell. But the guest experience doesn't end with the goodbye, as soon as a guest leaves, there should be some follow up to a guest's visit within 24-36 hours.
A follow-up is essential. And one of the critical metrics that a church needs to track is the retention rate from first time to a second-time guest. As a general rule of thumb, an average church can expect 8% retention of its first-time guests. For this retention to occur, the church must invite the same amount of new people as first-time guests as the church has for its average worship attendance (AWA) for the year.
For example, for a church of 100 AWA to increase by 8%, it would need to get eight new people as regular worshippers. Notice: The church must invite 100 new people as first-time guests for the year, or 2 people every Sunday to yield eight new people and increase the AWA from 100 to 108.
For the next few 3D Journey blogs, I will touch on different aspects of the 3D Journey healthy systems of Invite, Connect, Inspire, Serve, and Impact to describe ways of how churches might use a simple pathway to help first-time guests get connected, be inspired to give and serve, and make an impact in the community. If you have examples of how your church has created a pathway for the first-time guest, I would love to hear from you.
On the Journey,
P.S., It's dawned on me that I've completed my first year as your District Superintendent. Looking back on this year, I'm grateful for all the things that I've learned and your forgiveness for rookie mistakes! Twelve months ago, I didn't know what I didn't know. Today, I know a little more than I did last year. One thing that I do know is what continually drives me is helping our congregations to be healthy by equipping them with resources to imagine new ways of connecting people with Jesus. As we begin a new year together, I encourage you to imagine new ways to connect people with Jesus in your communities!