Can your guests tell what you’re all about?

Your values and priorities need to be evident in everything you do. Don’t assume that people — even your long-time congregants — know the why behind your actions. | by Mike Clarensau

Here’s the challenge. Our Sunday services are typically a practiced journey through a very familiar order of service. We do the things we do and to the best of our ability. Our congregation has learned to appreciate, value and even be proud of each part. It’s our “thing,” and we do it as well as we can.

But is your “thing” revealing what you are really passionate about?

Be Clear About Your Values and Priorities

Your guests are solidifying their first impression of your church in an average of 12 minutes. So, while you want to welcome them very well and get off to a good start, do you want them deciding what they think of you without knowing the things you care about most?

We call those things “values” or “priorities.” They are the “why” of our ministries. Unfortunately, our guests often have to attend for a month or more before they begin to know what’s most important to us. They have to sort out what we care about from what we do, and most don’t stay around long enough to get that list figured out.

They think we like to sing because we do a lot of that. They pick up on how we value teaching since we do a lot of that, even in our smaller events. They probably can tell that we like to eat since most of our bulletin items involve food. And they can probably tell that we like to be busy because there’s a lot going on. But is that the right list?

Showcase Your True Values in Every Service

Think of ways you can let your true values show every Sunday. If you value worship (I’m sure you do), help your guests connect the dots by explaining the why behind all the music and offering moments. If you preach because you believe the Bible is the pattern for life we all need, tell people that. Don’t just assume everyone knows why it’s important.

Why do we take time in a service to shake hands with and smile at others? Because we want to be a family and get to know each other. We value friendships, and here’s a chance to get one started. Again, give me the why so I can value the moment like you do.

Try to eliminate those things that don’t reveal your priorities. For example, don’t make announcements just so people will get event details. Let the announcements you make reveal your priorities. For example, say, “We encourage everyone to join a small group because we value relationships and the learning that happens best in a smaller setting. We announce small groups because we believe each of us needs to be in one.”

When you announce an upcoming service project, say, “Serving is a way that we grow. Reaching out to others is vital to our development, so that’s why we’re serving at the local food kitchen this Saturday.” Help people connect the dots between your events and your priorities.

If you can’t clearly identify a connection between an event and your highest values, don’t waste service time announcing it. There are other ways to communicate event details! Let your guests see your priorities in everything you do.

On some level, your guests will walk away thinking they know what you care about. Work hard to be sure they have an accurate idea. Even those members who have been a part of our church for decades might not know why we do what we do. We can’t assume they do. Restore the meaning to every moment, and make it clear, so your guests will know who you are and why you think they should join you in what you are doing.

What does your church value most? Make a list of the top five values. Find ways to display those values every Sunday. Knowing what you care about is a critical part of someone’s willingness to become a regular part of your congregation. Give them the information, the why, they need to make that choice. CGM

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