Did you know McDonald’s is one of the largest toy distributors in the world? It’s true. They’ve realized the key to getting people to come back to their restaurants is to get kids excited about coming back. McDonald’s understands that parents will go where their kids want to go. For them, a great kid experience is the come-back effect.
Guess what? For most parents visiting your church, this same dynamic exists. Parents will go where they feel like their kids will be happy and get the best care. My co-author and I share about this a bit in our new book, The Come Back Effect. Most first-time guests already have a certain amount of skepticism when they visit a new church, and for parents, that skepticism revolves around the care and safety their young ones will receive. One of the best things you can do to get the come-back effect going at your church is to create a great experience for parents and their kids. Here are a few helpful ideas from the book on how to do that.
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Staff the right greeters at the right doors.
At one of our North Point Ministries campuses, our average attendee is 33 years old. And there’s one particular door where most of our families with children enter. Knowing that, we staff those areas based on what I know to be true of those people. I often staff other fathers or mothers who have children. Or I’ll choose warm, grandfatherly type people there. It immediately turns an unfamiliar place into a comfortable place, because they know there are people there who can relate with them.
Don’t offer directions; escort.
When a parent needs directions to the restrooms or the kid’s rooms, don’t just tell them where they are. Escort them. They’re already busy enough wrangling their kid and hoping they don’t get embarrassed by something they do. Don’t add navigating a new building to their list of worries that morning.
Provide accountability and security.
Protectiveness is a natural parental response. Do all you can to work with parents and make them feel confident. Add windows to the rooms. Have proper safety protocols in place. And don’t be shy about explaining and posting those protocols.
Acknowledge the significance of a parent’s trust.
Your children’s ministry processes so many kids each weekend, it can feel like a machine. But for a parent, it’s a risk to trust strangers with their kids. Make sure your volunteers understand that and feel the significance of that. Then train them to put the parents at ease through the things they say and do.
Find ways to re-assure parents during the service.
Pager or texting systems are great ways to let parents know their children aren’t having a melt down. But that’s a bare minimum. Imagine the volunteer texting the parent a picture of their child having a great time during the service. Or imagine a text-based tracking system that informed the parents of what’s going on with their kids during the service. Think of it like those pizza-delivery-tracker systems restaurants are implementing on their websites.
Evaluate your children’s environments through the five senses.
Finally, realize that a parent’s first impressions of your kid’s ministry is all through the senses. Are the rooms clean? Do they smell good? Do they feel sharp edges on counters? Is the noise level stressful? Do the walls need a fresh coat of paint? Before a parent has even registered or given their child to a worker, they’ve already had their first impression of you. Make sure it’s excellent.
First-time guests are rooting for your church. They are hoping to have a great experience. But negative past experiences make them skeptical. If you can remove things that remind them of negative experiences from the past, you help them lower their guards. This lets them trust their kids are safe, enjoy the service more, and hopefully hear from God. When your guests experience that, they won’t be able to help but want to come back next week.
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