Take a second and think back to the first time you attended a service at Exodus. If it was anything like mine, it was memorable because someone took the time to introduce himself to me. I’d been invited by a friend, but it was the welcome of others, who I didn’t know, that made me feel comfortable coming back. It was the introduction from a stranger that led to me getting connected at Exodus.
I love that Exodus is a welcoming and friendly place, but as we continue to grow, it’s getting harder and harder to keep up with new faces. Maybe you’re like me and you’ve seen someone from across the Commons and thought, “I think they might be new, someone should talk to them.” And we watch as they walk out the door without meaningful interaction.
Visitors come and go every Sunday and sometimes we miss them in the hustle and bustle. We don’t want to miss anyone. We want everyone to feel welcomed like so many of us did. While we are not all on the Greeter Team, which works hard to create a welcoming environment at The Mill every Sunday, we all have the ability and responsibility to contribute to creating that welcoming environment.
In the following three videos, I’ll share three ways that we can all contribute so that first-time guests do not go unnoticed: Meeting, Making the Pass, and Moving.
Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, meeting new people can seem a little daunting. I get it; sometimes I have to give myself an internal pep talk before I go and introduce myself to someone new. You may or may not be able to relate, but I’ve put my foot in my mouth enough times, saying “Is it your first time here?” only to be met with “No, we’ve been here from the beginning.” Talk about awkward! It wasn’t until Tyler Boyette told me I should lead off with, “I don’t think we’ve met yet.” that I felt equipped to have social interactions on Sundays. Who’d have thought a sentence that simple could give me confidence to meet new people?
We want to encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone and trust that a simple “Hi, I’m Josh.” can go a long way in making someone feel welcome.
It might feel overwhelming to think you need to meet every new person on a Sunday, so here is what we are asking you to do: “own your ten feet”. This means being responsible for meeting and interacting with people that come into your immediate area. It’s having an eye for first-time guests and making sure they feel welcomed and not assuming that someone else will. We all play a part in creating a welcoming environment for people to find their place to belong and part to play at Exodus.
One great thing about Sunday morning is that we get to catch up with friends we haven’t seen all week. I’m so grateful for the community that we have here at Exodus. These conversations are life giving and wonderful, and we want them to happen.
We also want to avoid first-time guests slipping in and out of The Mill without making meaningful connections.
So how do we balance catching up with our friends and meeting new people? We do this by owning our ten feet and being mindful of the many people around us that we haven’t met yet.
So I encourage you to focus on the ten-foot radius around you on Sunday mornings. If you see someone you don’t know, introduce yourself, ask if they have any questions, and make them feel at home. Own your ten feet.
Making the Pass
We have met someone new and the conversation is drawing to an end; what’s next? Don’t let things end there: “make the pass”. In basketball (and soccer and probably other team sports) there is a concept that coaches often say: “Make the extra pass.” The idea is, when you get the ball and are about to shoot, take a moment to consider if there is someone you could pass to that would have a better opportunity to finish the play and score the goal. If there is, make the extra pass. Relating this concept to what we do on Sundays, when you meet someone new, don’t stop at introducing yourself. Introduce them to somebody else. Make the pass. Does this person have questions about Community Groups? Introduce them to a Community Group leader. If they have young kids, introduce them to another young family. Whether it is a pastor, your Community Group leader, or the person you sat next to during service, introduce them to someone else. If it’s their first time visiting, introduce them to an Info Desk volunteer so that they can receive a welcome bag. Don’t let your conversation be the only one a guest has. Making the pass does not mean passing them off, it means making another meaningful connection. If you have met this new person or family, great, but now by introducing them to someone else you are increasing the amount of people they know and greatly improving their feeling of connectedness and likelihood of getting more involved. Let’s make it a priority to make the pass.
Sometime last year, a single mother and her four children came into the Worship Space looking for a seat just after the sermon began. They walked all the way down the aisle to look for seats, but couldn’t find five together, so they turned around and walked out. In an effort to ensure that this situation never occurs again, we made a few changes in the Worship Space.
We started scheduling ushers to help people find seats. We added some ropes, not to create a VIP Section, but to be intentional with our space. We try to maximize the front half of the room before we start filling the back. As a staff and First Impressions Team, we are doing our best to make sure our space is inviting for everyone, especially for first time guests. But we also need your help in this.
As a growing church with limited space, it takes everyone being aware of the need to “squeeze” and maximize the space we have. So if you see an empty seat in the middle of your row, please move in to make room for others at the end of your row. This creates space for others to join us without the awkwardness of walking up and down the aisle looking for enough seats for their family.
Our ushers are in the room doing their best to maximize our space, but we need your help to make this happen week in and week out.
Let’s commit to being intentional with our seating, and let’s commit to moving.
Exodus, from the start, has been a friendly people. By doing these three things: meeting, making the pass, and moving in to create space, we can continue to provide a welcoming environment.
We want to thank you for taking the time to read this. Thank you for making Exodus Church a welcoming place to everyone who walks through our doors. We look forward to greeting alongside you on Sunday!