Volunteer Owned Best Practices...by Email


Excellent guest service - whether in a local church, community non-profit, retail business or service industry - is really the compilation of lived-out best practices. Those benchmark behaviors that may be simple and common sense, but they are set as standards of practice by everyone in the organization.

Best practices can be produced in a board room.

  • Respond to questions within 48 hours.

  • Answer the phone before the fourth ring.

  • Do what you do with excellence.

It can happen: best practices can come from the board room. But not most of them.

Most best practices come about in the moment. A one-time occurrence implemented by one team member that gets discovered and, because of its impact on communicating value, is repeated as a norm throughout the entire team. That’s what happened with our guest services four-point report .

A couple years ago our volunteer usher leaders began to email each other following each weekend of services. By Monday afternoon an email was circulating, celebrating highlights and asking questions about how to solve a challenge that had popped up. The email created conversation that birthed an ongoing best-practice-making machine. The Four-Point Email was born. It’s this simple:

  • Share a highlight from the weekend.

    • Anything positive counts.

    • A story about a guest interaction.

    • A high point from the service itself.

    • A nugget from a team member.

  • Tell about a challenge the team encountered and how it was solved (if one existed at all).

    • crying baby in the middle of the service.

    • The need for more wheel chairs than we had on hand.

    • An overcrowded room with standing room only.

  • Tell about a challenge the team encountered that you still need help with.

    • You dealt with it as best you could, but ultimately you know a long-term solution is still needed.

    • Not enough handicap seating.

    • Confusing signage.

    • Lack of information about an event or ministry.

  • Finally, share the name of an up-and-coming leader.

    • We’ll all pray—for that person and for the leaders who will be pouring into him/her.

    • This person may not be named an apprentice yet, but we all have our eyes open and our mentoring radar on.

 This four-point email keeps the communication going well past the weekend. Weekend teams are not isolated; they are united. Unique approaches are not limited to any one leader; they are sharedBest practices are not protected by a team; they are celebrated and practiced by the entire ministry. 

How are you establishing and implementing best practices?

(Revised excerpt from How to Wow Your Church Guests: 101 Ways to Make a Meaningful First Impression, Best Practice #94, pages 131-132)