Greg Atkinson: We need to be like water in a desert. We need to be welcoming and loving and accepting and give them a soft place to land where they can recover and grow in their life and being discipled and grow in their spiritual journey. But it all starts with that first visit. And we just don't know when that first visit will be.
Karl Vaters: Hi, I'm Karl Vaters and I'm a small church pastor and welcome to Can This Work in a Small Church? My podcast guest today is Greg Atkinson and the subject is first impressions. Greg is one of the world's leading voices in first impressions for churches. He actually goes from church to church as a secret shopper to help these churches figure out what they're doing well and what they could do better.
But he usually does that in big churches because that costs a lot of money: the flying in to pay all the expenses. So in the meantime, he wrote a book called Secrets of a Secret Shopper that's specifically for small and mid-sized churches. And in fact, Greg is a part of a small church plant right now.
So in this conversation, Greg and I talk about everything from the importance of our online presence, to how everyone is really on the first impressions team in a smaller congregation, why small churches need to work even harder on making first impressions than our big church friends, plus a few tips for small churches to increase their first impressions with little or no money.
And don't forget to stick around when the interview is done. I'll come back with an overview of the content and an answer to the question: can this work in a small church?
Hey, Greg. Good to have you with us.
Greg Atkinson: Hey, good to be here.
Karl Vaters: You are a busy man, and I appreciate the time that you've taken away from a lot of things going on. You're a busy man because first impressions have become a big deal recently. When you and I were coming up, the word “first impressions” wasn't used, right? It was ushers. It was greeters. It was, and then somebody, I don't know, it was maybe 10 years ago, somebody figured out all of this is about making a good first impression and all of a sudden it became the term. And it's one of those new terms that I love because it's really accurate. Right? It really is about making the best possible first impression. Isn't it?
Greg Atkinson: Yes. I think it'd be probably attributed to Disney and their focus on guest services and then restaurants coming out like Chick-fil-A with a big focus on making people feel welcome. And then we just started to see this occur in the local church.