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The statistic is that most people make the decision of whether or not to return to your church in the first few minutes of their visit. That means that before they’ve heard the first chord from the worship team or the first word from the pastor, they’ve already decided whether or not they like the church. If you think about it, that means volunteers control whether or not a visitor returns. Scary thought.

Many of us have experienced pain points when it comes to volunteers. Maybe they spend most of their time chatting with their friends and ignoring the guests. Or some of them grab their phones or text during the time when they should be engaging newcomers. This isn’t the best situation for welcoming guests and making them want to return.

So what do you do?

I’d like to present an idea you might be able to try for your Christmas services. If you like it, you might want to adopt it for each weekend service. But Christmas is the perfect time to give it a shot.

Focusing Your Volunteers

The idea is game time. Imagine setting a block of focused time, with a start time and end time, where?your volunteers focus exclusively on their tasks and the guests. It would be a time where everyone agrees to put their cell phones away, stop talking to their friends, and focus their attention outward.

It’s hard to keep a volunteer focused during a whole service. But imagine if you only blocked off a 20-minute window ? game time ? where they focused solely on their role. Most volunteers would be able to commit to that.[quote]It’s hard to keep a volunteer focused during a whole service.[/quote]

The volunteer still performs their function for the whole service or whatever the previous time slot was, but game time is a focused moment where it’s all hands on deck. It’s distraction-free. It’s your very best.

You could even trigger game time by sounding some jingle bells or walking around with a bull horn. Make it fun and make it a team cultural value.

Here are some tips on maximizing game time for your church, either this Christmas season or long-term:

  • Introduce it as an experiment, an attempt to deliver the very best to newcomers.
  • Make game time as short as possible and maximize the time that they can be most effective.
  • Make game time different for each volunteer team because they need to be “on their game” at different times.
  • Focus on the team aspect ? “It’s something we’re all doing together.” Avoid making it seem like a punishment or a restrictive mandate.
  • Celebrate the positive results you saw from the game time experiment.
  • Be crystal clear about what’s expected during game time.
    • Positive, high energy.
    • Zero distractions ? no cell phones.
    • Choose to talk to your friends when game time is over.
    • Hospitality, welcoming, and friendliness.

What do you think? Do you see game time working with the?teams at your church? How would it work at Christmas time? Have you tried something like this before? Share in a comment below.

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