Your Team Wants You to Ask Yourself These 10 Questions about Trust

The more conversations I have with clients, family and friends, the more I’m thinking about trust these days. Seems there’s precious little trust actually being experienced in work places and homes. Let’s start by defining trust.

My online dictionary states that trust as a verb means: to believe in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of something or someone.

Conversely, the same dictionary defines distrust this way: to doubt the honesty or reliability of; regard with suspicion.

My experience confirms that people know quickly whether they are trusted or distrusted; whether their supervisor believes in their strengths or regards them with suspicion. People know when their leader hovers, limits, takes back a responsibility or removes authority.

It’s in You. And Your Team. Let’s Access It.

You know it’s good - your leadership, your team, your work, your life - but, there’s a gnawing sense that it could be better. More focused. More replenishing. More you.

I only have a few spots left

10 Reasons You're Not Ready to Welcome New Guests

You don’t intend to not be ready. You really want everyone to feel welcome. You even have some greeters at the front door. People are shaking hands, and they appear to be friendly. 

However, every weekend people walk into churches across America and feel less than welcome. They don't know what to do or where to go. They feel like strangers.

Here are 10 reasons you and your church may not be ready to welcome new guests to your weekend service: 

  1. Your culture is developed for “family” and every weekend is a reunion. Unfortunately, guests can sense when they aren’t treated as family.
  2. You have a “friendly” church. Unfortunately,...

Avoiding the Christmas Crowd Trap

I don't know about your church, but at Granger Community, we expect a lot of additional guests around the holidays. Thousands, actually. We host a production on weeknights to offer a unique venue to "church" for our friends in the community (This year, Scrooge: a Modern Musical). We offer ten Christmas Eve services on three campuses, along with our regular offering of eight weekend services

We expect thousands of new people this Christmas season. People who haven't attended church services much, if at all, the rest of the year.

There's a hidden trap in all this. When we acknowledge that many of our guests don't attend services except at Christmas time (or Easter), we are prone to assume they won't return 'til next year. 

And that subtle assumption can adversely affect our approach to guests this season: 

  • We may focus on "managing the crowd" and overlook...

Volunteer Owned Best 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

Team: More than Task

This past weekend my friend, Kim Volheim and his wife, Claudia hosted a gathering for our guest services leaders and coaches. Fifty plus men and women filled their home with no agenda. There was no meeting, no objectives to review or sharpen. 

Kim created space. Just space. 

Space to eat lots of sugary sweets and salty snacks. Space to talk. Space to be. 

Most teams get launched and organized around task. There is a vision; there are clear objectives; there is a reason for the team's existence. They are built to get things done. it's how any vision or mission worth pursuing gets accomplished: team.

However, although task brings people to a team, tasks aren't the only glue

Innovation: Exploring Sequence - An Update

My last post was about using a creative process I hadn't tested. And get this - this topic had to do with sequencing steps. I crack me up.  

Just hours after posting the idea, I led my connections staff team through the exercise, creating some of the process on the fly. The result? Crazy creativity, fresh ideas and engaging conversation. The process was so helpful, we extended our meeting an additional half hour and decided to continue the exercise in our next weekly meeting. In fact, some of our ideas overlapped the work of another team, so we've decided to pull our teams together in the next meeting. 

 If you're feeling behind, read my earlier post here, then come back...

Good? Caught up?  

Here's the approach we've taken so far:


Guest Services | The Basics

I've been asked lately about some bottom-line "musts" to establish and/or take guest services excellence to the next level. This isn't an exhaustive list (that's why I wrote a few books on the topic), but these core essentials will provide a foundation to make your serve to guests excellent and personable.

Customer Service Training Starts at Home

Don't you sometimes wish you had the silver bullet for finding great volunteers or staff for your team? Whether it's guest service peeps on your volunteer church team or your sales staff at your retail store, a silver bullet for finding "stars" would be awesome.  

In his book, A Week at the Airport, Alain de Botton notes the following about British Airways:

A Prayer for Guest Services Volunteers

Today at Granger Community Church - and at churches throughout the US and around the globe - there will be thousands of volunteers giving their time and talent to be "Jesus with skin on" to millions of guests in our services.

Give them your eyes to ee people as you see them: as treasures, created beings with great worth and value.

Give them joy in their own eyes

Broken Systems Break Service


I've had some unbelievable customer service experiences that left my head spinning. So have you. You know those experiences that leave you asking, "Did that just happen?"

I have a very good friend who recently encountered "one of those." Her cell service suddenly went south: missed calls, no rings, no voicemail, inability to virtually use the phone as a phone. What follows is the actual chat conversation. "Sprint" and "Eva" are the phone company representative. "You" is my friend, the bewildered customer.

Sprint: We received your information and will connect you with a Chat Specialist soon.

Eva J.: Hi.

Eva J.: Thank you for contacting Sprint. I am happy to help you.

Eva J.: Please hold a moment while I access your account.

Eva J.: Thank you for waiting.

Eva J.: Please let me know the complete address of the location where you're getting the issue.

You: (Address provided)

Eva J.: Ok.

Eva J.: Please allow me a moment to check the details.

Eva J.: Thank you for being online.

Eva J.: I understand that you are having the network issue in your area and you are not able to use the phone services. I am sorry for the inconvenience you have gone through. Its a known network outage in your area and we have already reported it to our technicians and they are working hard to get it fixed. Its in the final stages of fix and is expected to be resolved very soon.

Eva J.: The Estimated Time of Resolution (ETR) updated by our technical team is: 06/22/2013 19:00:00 CST

You: I beg your pardon? I will continue to have virtually NO cell phone service until JUNE? That is not "very soon"

Eva J.: I understand your concern but the Sprint is working on to upgrade it's signal strength, so you're getting the issue.

You: I appreciate that "the Sprint" (where are you writing from anyway?) is working to upgrade it's signal strength but I am having serious difficulty accepting that I will continue to be billed for a service that is virtually unusable.

Eva J.: I am sorry for the inconvenience experiencing by you but it's a technical issue and resolving by our technical team.

You: Eva J, this is not "inconvenience". This is paying for a service that is not working. What would you do if you were in my place? You're telling me you're sorry but not giving me any options. As I see it, you are essentially telling me to find another service, is that correct?

Eva J.: I understand your concern and if I were at your place then may be I would have also reacted like the same.

Eva J.: The upgradation is for the betterment of the services and you'll get the credit for the known outage systematically.

You: I appreciate your time but this situation is unacceptable. I no longer have access to a land line at home which makes my cell service reliability imperative. You are leaving me no option but to cancel my Sprint service and sign on with another carrier.

Eva J.: I can assure you we are working to not only fix it, but improve your overall customer experience in the area.

You: Yes, I hear you saying that, but what you're also saying is that I will not have dependable service until June of this year. That is not acceptable.

Eva J.: As your calls are dropping, so I can offer you 100 anytime minutes for free and when the services gets corrected then you'll get the proactive credit from the system automatically.

Eva J.: Is there anything else I can assist you with today? 

You: Sorry, I'm at work and was answering my other phone.Ok, so your offer is to give me 100 anytime minutes? You already know, if you have my account in front of you, that I pay for unlimited minutes so this offer has no interest for me. My only interest is in having dependable service. Can Sprint provide me with dependable service by Monday, April 1, 2013? If not, I will need to cancel my service with Sprint. Can I do that with you or must I contact another area?

Eva J.: Yes. You have free minutes on your account but the anytime minutes can be used to call on landline numbers.

Eva J.: I am sorry but I cannot confirm you that you've updated connectivity and network on and after April 01, 2013 and the account can be closed by our accounts team only, so we can arrange a cancellation callback from here or you can also contact our Account Services team directly at 1-888-211-4727. When you call, select option 2 to make changes to your account then press 5 to cancel.

You: I will do so. Thank you for your time.

Eva J.: You're welcome.

Eva J.: Thank you for choosing Sprint - we appreciate your business!


When systems prevent serving the people we're set up to serve, our systems are broken. When anything - anything - gets in the way of people experiencing the Story of Jesus in our churches, something is broken.

Your Teams Are People, Too

We know it, no one needs to remind us. Or do we need to be reminded? The volunteers and staff who make up our ministry teams matter as much as the people we're serving. Our teams are people, too.

As I've had conversations with volunteers and staff on my various teams over the past couple weeks, I've been reminded. People matter. People need value. These people are my first "customers" or "guests".

Just this past week or so, I've been reminded - they will experience value when:

    Life-Sucking Silos, Part 2

    In Part 1 of "Life Sucking Silos" I outlined a few primary ways we focus our staff and volunteer leaders on the main thing, preventing silo ministries or teams who operate as stand-alone entities within the local church (read it here).


    Don't worry about relationships; focus on ministry. Don't take the time to get to know people. There are goals to accomplish, souls to serve. Who has time for relationships?

    • Fail to build relationship with your leaders and you'll have a

    Breakfast Barricades

    I live in northern Indiana in the path of the snow belt from Lake Michigan. We call it Lake Effect. I think that's intended to remind us that we get to enjoy the water and beaches of the great lake... when it's warm. I bring all that up to say that when it finally starts getting warmer, we Hoosiers find ourselves in the path of the department of transportation - fixing pot holes. Some days I prefer the snow.

    Today was one such day. This morning on my way to a breakfast meeting I approached the main thoroughfare out of my neighborhood and discovered