For most of us, we love to see our ministries grow. We love the relationships we have with kids/parents we see week after week, but we’d love to increase our influence in our community. We work hard to create engaging environments that kids love. There’s nothing more fun than seeing a brand new family come back and connect in your church. If this is true for you, then 11 minutes should really matter to you.

This is what I’m talking about. Studies have shown that the average first time guest has already decided whether they’re coming back for another visit within the first 11 minutes of arriving at your church. 11 minutes.

That really fun game you planned for your small group activity – it doesn’t really matter for your guests. Your pastors AMAZING message – not as important as a factor. The first-time guest gift bag – too late for most.

What happens in the first 11 minutes?

  • The parking lot
  • Finding where to take the kids
  • Check-in (more specifically, first time guest check-in)
  • Dropping kids off for the first time
  • Visiting the bathrooms
  • Walking into the auditorium

Depending on the size of your church, your guests might not even get through all of these things before the 11 minutes run out.

If your church is trying to grow, its important to pay attention to a few things:

  • Obvious and helpful guest parking experience
  • Special care for helping new families find where their kids go
  • Fast and friendly check-in experiences
  • Extra attentive volunteers who welcome new kids into environments (especially the shy ones)
  • Sparkling bathrooms
  • Clear directional signage to the auditorium

Most of these things aren’t really even that expensive. It’s attention to detail and strategically placing volunteers in key positions.

We have the most amazing message to tell. People who are lost and disconnected will happen upon your church. There are people who need to connect to your community more than anything else, but too many of them will never make that connection or truly hear this message of truth because getting there was complicated and frustrating. We focus almost all of our time on the content and experience beyond the 11 minutes. What if we paid a little more attention to what happens at the beginning?