fun life ministry

How Could the Church Have More Pleasant Surprises?

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Last week my son and I met Nicole for lunch at Chick-fil-A. This is a restaurant that has hospitality down pat and from which the church could draw helpful lessons. I have come to expect this when I go there to eat, but this time I had a surprise.

We had ordered a Kid’s Meal and was taking the toy (which was a computer game on CD) to the counter to trade it in for the board book designed for younger children. The cashier gladly took back the CD and asked if I would like a cup or a cone. I was confused. I was bringing it back to trade in for the board book. It took me a bit to catch on to what the cashier was telling me.

I could trade the CD in for a board book, or I could turn it back in for a kid’s ice cream cone.


What a great deal. I took the cone and there was a benefit for everyone. I will gladly make this trade again in the future.

This started me thinking about how to pleasantly surprise people at church? What do people (both new and regular attenders) expect when they walk in the doors to worship? In what ways could the church have more pleasant surprises? I haven’t come up with any out of the ballpark ideas yet, but will keep thinking as Chick-fil-A made a great impression on me.

By Andrew Conard

Christian, husband, son, brother, homeowner

4 replies on “How Could the Church Have More Pleasant Surprises?”

Give them free ice cream cones?? 🙂

In all seriousness, though, I think there’s something to be said for going above and beyond in serving others. I heard a professional photographer share recently that they spend hundreds of dollars on gifts for each of their wedding couples, just to send them gifts and give them an out-of-this-world customer experience. Because plenty of photographers can shoot good pictures, but what’s going to set this photographer apart and attract attention, if not rave reviews about amazing customer service and experience?

Britt – Thanks for the reply. Above and beyond expectations is the key. Great example with the photographer. What are the expectations for a visit to church that we could work to exceed?

I don’t have any great ideas — although I wish I did! Maybe close parking spaces, having hymns pre-bookmarked in hymnals, having all words to be spoken clearly displayed, having greeters at the doors, or fliers with maps and explanations that introduce visitors to the principles and values of the church, maybe having coffee available…. but we do all of this already.

I think maybe there are two different questions at hand. What I think you’re asking is how to make people feel welcome in church. But I think you also raise an interesting question of how we help people to worship.

Maybe the way we look at it is like this: When you go to Chick-Fil-A, you’re there for food (and in ordering a kid’s meal, a bit of fun for your kid). What better to do to go above expectations than to give more food or more options of fun?

But what would this mean in church? Clearly ice cream would be nice (!), but how does that better serve why we’re in church to begin with? We don’t go to church to get more stuff, we go to church to give back to God. People go to worship to feel connected with God, to give back, to praise. And we know that just asking people to give more or worship longer isn’t always received well. 🙂 So in that case, if ‘more’ isn’t always better… but maybe having more options is. Or maybe having better quality of worship/giving/praising is the key to providing a pleasant surprise (like being upgraded to first class on a plane).

What would that mean? Seat-back credit card readers to make donations from a card? Multiple rooms with various praise experiences available (poetry reading, singing, art, interpretive dance, etc)? Hiring acclaimed singers to perform praise songs during service?

Or maybe we just give them ice cream. I dunno. 🙂

Britt – There certainly isn’t much more we can offer than a chance to worship the living God. I do think that you have a great metaphor with the flight. No matter what class you are in you will make it to the destination, but how you get there will be qualitatively different. I think you are right that high quality options for worship is a key. There is likely other items in regard to other ministry items, but I like your insight. Thank you for sharing!

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