Over the past six months at Church of the Suncoast we have started something called "Lunch with the Pastor". I know of several churches that do this of all sizes. The largest that I know of is about 1,000 people. I'm not sure if it is scalable past 1,000 people, but it might be one of those things that get you there.
Here is the basic idea behind our version. About once every two months, at strategic times like the opening of a new series, we announce that anyone who is new to the Suncoast and would like to learn a little more about us, our vision, about me is invited to a FREE 20-minute lunch in the back of the room. (We used to do it off the main room, but have found it attracts more people if they don't have to leave the place they are comfortable with already.) This lunch is open to anyone new. We don't really make it just for first or second time guests. It is for people who are ready to take their next step. This is one of our stepping stones for the rest of our environments. It's another rung on the assimilation ladder so you really want to open it up for everyone. Don't worry you won't go broke feeding people!
We have a group of people who set the area up during the service behind our black curtain partition as people exit the cafétorium. We get box lunches from Panera Bread for about $8 each. We end the service and we jump right into that lunch. Maybe only a 3-minute delay for people to get their kids. Our greeters even stand around the area and ask new people to join us. We will give everyone about 5-minutes to eat and get settled and then I begin. Here is an outline of what we talk about:
Welcome – 1 minute
Introduce the Management Team (staff) – 1 minute
Tell Our Story – 7 minutes
Share Our Vision – 2 minutes
Share Our Purpose – 1 minute
Share Our Strategy (the environments) – 2 minutes
Share Our Values – 1 minute
Suggest Some Next Steps (like keep coming) – 1 minute
Ask Them for Questions – 2 minutes
Answer Some FAQ’s – 2 minutes
We try to keep it to this. We advertise only 20-minutes and we want to honor that!
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