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Improving your church's
As you walk into an unfamiliar restaurant, a waitress greets you
with a hurried and indifferent, "Be with you in a minute hon." She
sticks a tooth-marked pencil behind her ear. Her dress is a faded
yellow uniform with gravy stains across the front and down the side.
You've just experienced the impact of an image a significant impression
from encountering a person, place, or thing. In just a moment or
two you have learned a lot. On the basis of your brief encounter
with this waitress, answer the following questions.
- What kind of food will be served?
- What kind of atmosphere will you find in the restaurant?
- What kind of people frequent this restaurant?
- What kind of people probably do not frequent this restaurant?
Your church and Sunday school project an image too. The influence
of image is significant and determines why some people come but
don't stay, and why some people don't come at all.
Look at your church and Sunday school through the eyes and experience
of a Sunday morning guest. What impression would you get? Is it
the kind of image you want to project?
Become aware of the impression your church and Sunday school make,
and make your image work for you.
What Elements Affect Image?
- People. What are the appearance, attitude, and conduct of leaders,
workers, and members?
- Facilities. What is the appearance, upkeep, and design of building
- Environment. Is the noise level confusing or orderly, peaceful
- Colors. Are they matched, contemporary, or dated?
- Arrangement. Do the space, program, and overall organization
speak of order?
- Smell. Is the air clean and fresh or stuffy and unpleasant?
- Context. How would you describe the location of your church
and surrounding area?
Image is the picture that comes to mind and the expectation we
get at significant impressionable moments. Image is never neutral.
It works either for or against us. It either helps or hinders us
in our efforts to reach people.
In 1981 Scandinavia Airlines lost $20 million. The following year
SAS earned $54 million. What was the secret of the turnaround? Jan
Carlson, CEO of SAS, led the company to a customer-focused approach.
He said, "We have to better manage the 50,000 daily moments of truth
with the customer," and he coined the term Managing Moments of Truth
for his company. As the company's attitude and approach became more
customer-focused, it became more successful.
Every church and Sunday school has thousands of these moments of
truth. How well they are managed determines whether guests are satisfied
and will return.
Impressionable moments----the direct and indirect contacts that
guests and prospective guests have with us----could include the
- Driving to the church
- Entering the parking lot
- Finding a parking space
- Entering the building
- Internal appearance of the church
- Greeting at the door
- Receiving the bulletin
- Finding a seat
- Greeting by fellow worshipers
- Listening to musical prelude
- Listening to announcements
- Opening prayer
- Worship experience
- Listening to prayer
- Listening to offering appeal
- Listening to special music/drama
- Listening to sermon
- Appealing for response to sermon
- Listening to closing prayer
- Exiting sanctuary
- Talking with other members
- Picking up literature
- Exiting building
- Exiting parking lot
- Follow-up from congregation
These impressionable moments can be magnificent or miserable, depending
on how well the church manages them. They can be magnificent moments
if the guest receives more than he expected, but moments of misery
if his expectations aren't met.
Church Image Analysis
The Church Image Analysis is a tool that can help your church and
Sunday school determine and improve their images. Use this evaluation
with your leaders, members, and visitors. The CIA can be viewed
from a personal perspective or how you think a guest may see your
church. Compile your results, and take action to improve your image.
Rate our church by marking the following statements on a scale
of 1 to 8.
- 1 to 2 means "Need much work in this area."
- 3 to 4 means "Need some work in this area."
- 5 to 6 means "Doing adequately here."
- 7 to 8 means "Doing excellently here."
1. When I drive by the church and walk up to it, I get
a positive impression.
2. The lawn and landscaping appear well-maintained.
3. The appearance of the building is positive.
4. The church is easy to find and easy to spot from my car.
5. The church sign is easy to read, attractive, and up-to-date.
6. The church sign gives basic information about church and service
7. There are signs that direct visitors about parking, Sunday
school, and worship services.
8. There is at least 20 percent additional space on high attendance
9. There are at least three visitor parking spaces for every
100 people in attendance.
10. There is adequate, accessible handicapped parking.
11. The church entrance is easy to find.
12. The foyer is warm and inviting.
13. The foyer is clean and neat.
14. The foyer is large enough not to be congested.
15. The greeters are warm and helpful.
16. The congregation is warm and friendly, including pastors,
teachers, staff, and leaders.
17. There are informational and directional signs for guests
(i.e., rest rooms, nursery, classes, and information).
18. The auditorium is accessible for everyone, including the
19. The auditorium is attractive and up-to-date.
20. The auditorium is well-lighted.
21. The auditorium is physically comfortable for all, including
22. The sound quality in the auditorium is adequate.
23. The platform is uncluttered, attractive, and neat.
24. Hallways are wide enough to allow for comfortable people
25. Hallways and stairs are well lighted.
26. Hallways, stairs, floors, walls, and ceilings are well-maintained
27. Exit signs are visible and lighted.
28. Stairways are wide enough to handle traffic flow.
29. The nursery is in a convenient location.
30. Nursery furniture is clean, comfortable, and well-maintained.
31. The nursery is warm, inviting, and attractive.
32. Nursery floors, walls, and decor are well-maintained.
33. The nursery is clean and odor free.
34. The nursery has adequate space and supervision to be safe.
35. Each classroom is attractive.
36. Each classroom is neat and organized.
37. Each classroom is clean and odor free.
38. Each classroom has enough space for the group that uses it.
39. Each classroom has safe, appropriate furniture for the group
that uses it.
40. Each classroom is physically comfortable.
41. Rest rooms are conveniently located and handicapped-accessible
42. Rest rooms are clean and odor free.
43. Rest rooms are properly supplied.
44. Rest rooms have adequate facilities for men, women, and children.
45. The offices are easy to find.
46. Offices are clean, neat, and odor free.
47. Offices are spacious.
48. Offices are attractive.
49. Office equipment and furniture are well-maintained.
50. Music in the worship service is the type preferred
by the people we are trying to reach.
51. The worship service is alive and inspiring to the type of
people we are trying to reach.
52. The quality of the worship service meets or exceeds the expectations
of the people we are trying to reach.
53. The content of the worship service meets or exceeds the expectations
of the people we are trying to reach.
54. The worship experience meets or exceeds the expectations
of the people we are trying to reach.
55. The worship service emotionally and intellectually affects
the lives of people we are trying to reach with the truth and
presence of God.
Exposure to Ministries
56. The quality of the class, group, or ministry meets
or exceeds the expectations of the people we are trying to reach.
57. The content in each class, group, or ministry meets or exceeds
the expectations of the people we are trying to reach.
58. The personal involvement in each class, group, or ministry
meets or exceeds the expectations of the people we are trying
59. People gain a sense of belonging through meaningful relationships
in each class, group, or ministry.
Use this group exercise to get a better understanding of your current
church and Sunday school image. Then take positive steps to improve
- Draw a circle. Begin at the top, to represent the moment when
a guest first has direct or indirect contact with your church
and Sunday school. Identify the impressionable moments all the
way around the circle until the guest leaves.
- Identify and discuss three to five of these impressionable moments
that are magnificent----in which the guests will probably get
more than they expect.
- Identify and discuss three to five impressionable moments that
could be moments of misery----when guests get less than they expect.
- Use the Church Image Analysis with leaders, members, and visitors
to gain a better understanding of your present church image.
- Compile the results of the Church Image Analysis.
- Take action to turn the potential moments of misery into magnificent
- Take action to improve your church's image by evaluating the
low scores on the Church Image Analysis.
You decide to return to a restaurant based on your first impression
and met (or unmet) expectations. A guest determines whether he will
return to your church and Sunday school on the same basis. Often
a person's image of God and Christianity is determined by the church's
building, ministries, and people. We need to do our best to provide
positive images. We get only one chance to make a positive first
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