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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

“First and Ten Impressions” to Reach First-time Guests in Ten Minutes

Written by James Walker
source: Lifeway
For every football fan, the phrase "first and ten" is something to celebrate. The "first and ten" is an opportunity for a new set of downs. It is a new opportunity to score a touchdown. It is an opportunity to keep a drive alive. For church leaders, "first and ten" needs do have a totally different meaning. These are strategic numbers if we are to reach those who attend our churches on Sunday. We know that first-time guests formulate their opinions of your church within the first ten minutes on your campus. This ten-minute period is the only opportunity your church gets to make a first impression.  
Parking Lot Impressions
There are no second chances to make first impressions. The count down begins as guests drive onto your parking lot. Use these questions to evaluate the impression guests get when driving into the church parking lot.
  1. What is the first thing they see coming in?
  2. Do they see signs or someone showing them the designated guest parking and where to enter the building?
  3. Do they see a clean, well-maintained building from the outside?
At the Door Impressions
This is just the first few minutes into the "First and Ten Impressions." How are you doing so far? Next, the guests will be coming through a door. When they approach, the door, there are several questions that need to be answered.
  1. Is there someone at every entrance to greet guests with a warm, friendly, and caring heart?
  2. Are the greeters knowledgeable about directions and information about the church?
  3. Are there signs and information directing them to the Welcome/Information Center?
Sunday School Impressions
This is the half-way point of the "First and Ten Impression." Are your guests still with you? Now comes a pivotal area in the whole "First and Ten Impression" strategy. The Welcome/Information Center must be exactly what the name suggests.
  1. Are the greeters welcoming and fully-informed about the church, times for events/activities, Sunday School classes, facilities, and worship information?
  2. Are people prepared to walk guests to their classes whether that means walking over to the preschool, children, student, or adult area?
  3. Do the Sunday School classes have people designated to welcome new guests when they arrive?
Worship Impressions
For many churches, first-time guests attend worship before attending a Sunday School class. Because most of the first-time guests you have come through your Worship Service, you will want to make sure that worship experience is a positive one.
  1. Are there ushers who provide a worship guide (for some this is still called the  bulletin) and escort guests to seats?
  2. Are your ushers assigned to a specific section and spending time getting to know those who sit in those sections?
  3. Are the ushers introducing the guests to those seated around them?
How did you do with your "First and Ten Impressions?" Did you pass or do you have some work to do? You may want to go deeper in looking specifically at the buildings and property. We have a free six page evaluation called "How to Evaluate Your Church Property" to aid in making the best impression. Join us in the Minister of Education Community at to share your ideas about making a lasting "First and Ten Impression" to see lives changed.  




James Walker

James Walker is the Education Ministry Specialist at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, TN. James and his wife Jennifer serve as Sunday School leaders at Hermitage Hills Baptist Church in Hermitage, Tennessee. They have two children and their family is very active in making Christ known in the community.