Growing your church one experience at a time


Have you visited a Starbucks lately? If you have, chances are better than not that you received a smile, were asked your name and, if you didn’t like your drink, were offered a replacement with no questions asked. Traveling as much as I do gives me plenty of opportunities to hit a local Starbucks and, even though I tend to prefer local establishments over chains, I greatly respect and appreciate the consistent experience I get at Starbucks. That’s why Ryan Stigile’s recent article about why people like Starbucks more than the church caught my attention.

As I read Ryan’s article something immediately stood out to me about the secret to the Starbucks experience. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said, “Success is not sustainable if it’s defined by how big you become. Large numbers that once captivated me … are not what matter. The only number that matters is ‘one.’ One cup. One customer. One partner. One experience at a time.”

What a great reminder that the larger your church grows, the smaller you have to become!

How do you do that? Let me highlight the ideas that Ryan shared along with a few additional thoughts.

Creating a personal experience, even in a large church

  1. Ensure that personal connections aren’t overtaken by systems. This is a critical concept and one that might seem counter to how you would expect us to feel at Church Community Builder. The truth is that systems are meant to help you scale your care for people, not diminish it. How do you do this? This is accomplished by always valuing people first and systems second.
  2. Train staff and volunteers on how to think, not what to do and say. A consistent experience doesn’t have to mean you are impersonal. In fact, caring for your visitors effectively requires equipping staff and volunteers within reasonable boundaries. How do you do this? Here’s a simple way to set volunteers up for success.
  3. Focus on mission-driven metrics, not mass-driven metrics. It’s easy to focus on top-line growth, but digging deeper often tells the true story about discipleship. That’s why it’s important to know exactly what you’re trying to accomplish. It also means tracking the right metrics for church growth.

If, like Starbucks, you can shift your thinking from how many people show up this week to creating one personal experience hundreds (or thousands) of times per week, the Kingdom impact will be exponential!

Do people walk into and out of your church without having a personal experience with anyone else? What will you do this year to eliminate that experience?

Topics: This entry was posted in Leadership Roles, This entry was posted in Connections Ministry, This entry was posted in Blog, This entry was posted in Volunteer Ministry, This entry was posted in Executive Pastor

Posted by Steve Caton on January 26, 2016