First Impressions: My VIP Experience at Elevation
First impressions matter. Oftentimes in the programming and planning of church services, we can quickly neglect an important aspect of our worship gatherings: how we welcome first-time visitors.
As I travel around and visit churches, one thing I love to do is play the part of a ‘secret shopper’ and experience how a first-time guest is welcomed at a church. I thought I had seen and heard all of the tricks and styles of welcoming visitors to churches, but my recent visit to Elevation Church in Charlotte, N.C., changed my perception. They literally treat their first-time visitors like VIPs.
Here’s how it went down:
Rock Star Parking.
When we pulled up to the campus, there was a sign for first-time visitors to turn on their hazard lights to let the parking lot volunteers direct you to the VIP Parking reserved for guests. We did and were given a parking spot literally steps from the front door of the church.
A VIP Welcome.
As we were parking, a volunteer came to our car and welcomed us. She was incredibly friendly and genuinely acted excited that we were there. She explained to us that at Elevation Church, every guest is treated like a VIP. She then handed us a VIP brochure that included a short note from Pastor Steven Furtick, notes for where to go for your first-time visit, info for families with children, and ways to connect at the church. There was also an audio CD attached to the brochure that had a few songs written by the Elevation worship team and a message from Pastor Steven. All this in the first 45 seconds of being on their property.
An Incentive to Get Your Info.
We were also handed information cards and a pen and told that if we would fill those out and return them to a designated spot after the service, they would donate $1 to a local charity as thanks for sharing our information with them. That was pretty cool. Even though I was an out-of-towner, I loved the idea that I could chip in and help a local charity.
Warm Greetings All Around.
As we walked in, the VIP brochure I was holding was a dead giveaway to the volunteers, and each one of them greeted us enthusiastically. But I will add, it wasn’t too much and didn’t seem pushy. (I would note we were in the South; people are just friendlier there.) The volunteer that met us at our car literally walked with us into the auditorium and led us to an usher who directed us to our seat. Unreal.
Great Welcome From the Front.
We all know how awkward those ‘if anyone is new here, please raise your hand’ moments can be in church. At Elevation, they didn’t put any pressure on you to acknowledge your newness, but rather warmly welcomed all of the VIPs of the day and reiterated how we could get connected and where to go after the service to get more information.