In light of all this, what are some ways to improve first impressions?
First, wake up to the reality that we have just endured a generation-changing event that will alter the way we do things going forward. Every industry has been disrupted. Much like 9-11-2001, the world, and the church, will be different going forward. Use the pruning of your ministry schedule to your advantage. Identify the critical components of your ministry and work to improve them. Do not restart none-effective ministries. Let them pass gracefully. COVID already did the hard work for you.
Second, consider the needs of your guests. Try to anticipate what they will want and need and then work to provide it before they even realize they want or need it. You want your guests saying, "They've thought of everything!" Have the solution ready before they realize they have a problem. Post-COVID, this includes making people feel comfortable in large group settings by creating safe distances between people, providing sanitizing stations, and limiting bottlenecks and pinch points in your hallways and foyers. Think through every aspect of the guest experience from the website, to the parking lot, to children's check-in, and to finding the auditorium. Make it easy. Make it safe.
Third, evaluate your digital presence. From your website to your app, make sure it is easy, intuitive, and high-quality. At Paragon, we are seeing many more churches asking for studios to improve their online content. Sunday School, small groups, youth ministry, and kid's church are all now going digital. Embrace the change and utilize new tools to communicate your message more effectively. Going forward, first impressions are not about serving Starbucks in the foyer and having the right swag in your visitor bag. It's about connecting and engaging with all of your guests, both live and online.