The Power of a First Impression – Part 1 of 4 (Assimilation and Easter)

With Easter fast approaching (Sunday, April 24), I want to devote some time on the blog in the coming days to help you upgrade your assimilation system.

In other words, I want to help you keep more of your first-time Easter guests this year.

In the first seven minutes of contact with your church, your first-time guests will know whether or not they are coming back.

Think about that: Before a single worship song is sung and before even one word of the message is uttered, their mind is made up!

Now obviously, these newcomers aren’t making a logical decision based on the character of the church or the clarity of your doctrine.

Instead, they are taking in clues about your church’s atmosphere and the people’s friendliness on a much more rudimentary level. Their subconscious minds are working overtime to evaluate their compatibility with this new environment.

So the question for you becomes, What’s actually being judged?

And how much control can you have over making their experience ring positive?

Pre-Service: From The Street To The Seat

The pre-service period is your first opportunity to interact with guests.

You should use it to bring their guard down and even put a smile on their face before the service begins.


By controlling the way they are Greeted, Directed, Treated and Seated.

Today I’m beginning a series of posts where I’ll address each of these four areas of Pre-Service and help you upgrade your first time guest experience, starting with:

1. Greeted

Memorize the next sentence and embed it into your thinking: Everything speaks to first-time guests.

From the moment guests set foot on your property, they tune in to receive the message your church is sending.

And your church is always sending a message, whether you realize it or not. The condition of your building, your sign, your grass and your parking lot all speak to guests… So make sure they are giving a welcoming impression.

You have an obligation to strive for excellence.

Examine your church through your guest’s eyes… What are you communicating?

The most critical part of the “greeted” area of initial contact is who your guests meet when they make it to the front door—your greeters.

A friendly face offering a warm welcome speaks volumes!

Greeters should practically radiate the underlying message you want to send to your guests: “We are nice people, and we are glad you are here!”

So…. What can you do about the way people are GREETED at your church this week?

* Conduct a “smile practice” before you chose your greeters for the main door.

Have all of your volunteers give you their biggest, most genuine smile, and then position those with the most welcoming energy as your first-line greeters.

Check in next week as I continue this series of posts.

P.S. If you’re truly ready to keep new people from slipping through the cracks at your church, check out The Assimilation Intensive.

With over 8 hours of audio training and dozens of sample files and documents, this is the most comprehensive resource available to help you turn First-Time Guests into Fully-Committed Members of Your Church.  Click here to Download Now and Save $100.00!

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About Nelson Searcy

Nelson Searcy is an experienced church planter, coach and church growth strategist, working with churches in over 45 denominations. Nelson is also the Founding and Lead Pastor of The Journey Church, with locations across New York City and in San Francisco and Boca Raton, FL. He first developed the Assimilation System 10 years ago at the Journey Church and has since implemented and improved these strategies with over 3,000 churches across all sizes and denominations. He started coaching pastors in 2006 and has personally coached over 2100+ senior pastors, helping them break common growth barriers like 125, 250, 500, 1000 and beyond, all while maintaining personal life and ministry balance. As founder of Church Leader Insights and the Renegade Pastors Network, he has trained more than 50,000 church leaders (3,000+ church planters). He is the author of over 85 church growth resources and 17+ books, including Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests Into Fully-Engaged Members of Your Church and The Renegade Pastor: Abandoning Average in Your Life and Ministry. His continued mission is to help church leaders around the world cooperate with God in creating healthy, thriving churches. Nelson is married to Kelley and together they have one son, Alexander.

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