The Sunday experience

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My wife and I ate at a nice, swanky restaurant recently.

We felt like we were eating food that could be served on the Food Network. ¬†Which is a far stretch from what we normally eat. ¬†I learned what amuse bouche is (I had a pan-seared sea scallop with a slice of grapefruit, in warm vanilla sauce). ¬†I had rillette and risotto…both of which I had to Google to know what they were. ¬†The food was unbelievably good.

And as impressed as we were with the food, we were equally impressed with the service.  5 things stood out:

  1. We made our reservations online. ¬†We’d never made online reservations for a restaurant before, but this process was incredibly easy. ¬†We felt served even before we arrived at the restaurant.
  2. Our waitress was cross-trained.  She served our food, and could also talk us through the complimentary flavors, the local farms where they purchase their meat, and the precise way that each of our dishes was prepared.
  3. Our waitress wasn’t our only server…when we needed something, any server walking by would attend to our needs.
  4. I got up to use the restroom, and when I returned, my napkin was refolded and placed back on top of the table.
  5. The chef was feeling generous, and gave us a free tasting of his newest soup.

In short, it felt like the whole evening was about serving us, like we were truly honored guests. ¬†And shouldn’t we be treated guests like that on Sunday morning in our churches? ¬†Do we really offer that same level of service? ¬†Because there are lessons to be learned here, whether your church is strong or weak when it comes to your Sunday morning experience.

Principles for serving on Sundays

  • Look for ways to surprise your guests with generosity. We paid a lot for our meal, but the fact that we felt served made us think less about the cost, and more about the experience. ¬†And if “time is money,” then the people visiting your churches are “paying” a lot. ¬†Make it worth their time.
  • Cross-train your volunteers and staff members. Our waitress cared about our entire experience, not just getting her tip. ¬†And healthy team members know that, while their area of service may be primary for them, there’s a lot more that goes into a given person’s experience on Sundays than just their one area.
  • Serve relentlessly and creatively. The whole refolding-the-napkin-when-I-go-to-the-bathroom trick was awesome. ¬†And it only took them 10 seconds. ¬†But it took intentionality. ¬†All of their servers had to keep an eye out for people who stood up to leave their table. ¬†And that’s what it’s going to take to serve people on Sundays, too.
  • Prepared in advance to serve well. Serving with this level of class takes planning. ¬†It doesn’t just happen naturally. ¬†You, as staff and leaders, must plan ahead if you want your teams to serve well. ¬†Brainstorming, dreaming, and mapping out action plans, is key if you want your guests to feel honored.
  • Know that Sundays aren’t the first, or last, impression. Our experience may have technically started when we arrived at the restaurant, but it certainly didn’t start, or end, there. ¬†Taking this into account is important as you’re thinking through the message your church is conveying in your community and online.

Think, “What would this look and feel like for a first-time guest?” ¬†Let that question propel you to creatively brainstorm with your team.

We’ve become raving fans of this restaurant.

Are you creating raving fans of your church?

What are you doing to creatively serve your guests?

 

Christ follower, husband, father, writer, small groups pastor at Saddleback Community Church. Communications director for the Small Group Network.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Bandaidmom

    Great post /comparison

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Thanks Bandaidmom!

  • http://twitter.com/BrettVaden Brett Vaden

    Recently our ‘order of worship’ bulletin was changed from a nice tri-fold with cool logo, fonts, headings, etc. into a plain 8 1/2 by 11 double-sided sheet of beige-colored paper with hardly any perceivable order or aesthetic-appreciation. Can we say, “Nose dive from excellence to effortless?”

    Thanks for your post; it’s refreshing.

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Saving money so you can be even more generous…brilliant!