There’s a lot to think about when it comes to our weekly gatherings - facilities, parking lots, volunteers, etc. We consider where people will sit, what they’ll hear, and how things look.
One area to consider, are the details that make a difference to parents from the time they enter your parking lot to the time they leave it.
Here are a few things that can make a major difference for your first or second time guests with kids (no, this isn’t super spiritual, but it can help lessen parents’ distractions and frustrations so they can better hear the spirit during your gatherings).
There are a few areas where we need to be clear about our signage.
First, in the parking lot. Make sure parents know where to park to have the most convenient access to your children’s check-in area. If you have a special exterior entrance/exit for your children’s area, make sure parents know where that is as soon as they pull in to your parking lot.
Once parents enter your lobby/building, make sure the signs are visible and clear for where parents need to go. If children of different ages check in at different locations, be sure to mark what ages check in where.
Once parents have checked their kids in, make sure they know how to get to your worship area from the kids area.
2.Well timed gatherings
Multiple service times present a lot of benefits, like saving money on renovations, spreading out our congregation, and offering more opportunities for people to serve. It also presents a few challenges. One of those challenges is parking space. We often plan our services around most convenient attendance times, however, we need to be sure we plan enough time for our parking lots to empty out without creating an unsafe traffic jam.
First time guests with kids tend to arrive early. Be sure to spread your gatherings out so they can take advantage of your guest parking spots or find places close to the entrance of your children’s area.
3.Simple Check-in Process
Our three-year old has a TON of energy and struggles to stand still for more than 12 seconds. A long check-in process will frustrate parents who are already a little on edge trying to navigate unfamiliar surroundings. A few ideas, if you have the resources are:
Simplify or expedite your check-in process by asking only questions that NEED to be asked, or allow the child to go to the classroom and begin playing before parents fill out our 30 page affidavit.
Have a trusted volunteer entertain the child while mom and dad fill out the forms. This person needs to be non-threatening, super friendly, and willing to be a bit silly. This goes a long way with parents and helps break the ice for a lot of children who may be a nervous about a new place.
Allow parents to pre-check by downloading a form from your website before they arrive. This may work for some, but should be an option along with one of the other two as many parents won’t do this.
Parents are constantly concerned about the security of their children. One way we can help our parents get the most from our gatherings is by easing their worries. Let parents know about your security measures and that you have a plan in place. Let them know, if an emergency were to happen, where they can pick up their children.
Most check-in softwares today have similar products. Let parents know that no one is able to pick up your child without the matching receipt that goes with their name tag. That eases the parents mind that no one can randomly pick up their child (this is especially important to foster parents).
If you don’t have a security plan in place, it would be a great idea to discuss with your staff and volunteers how to put one together. This should be done ASAP.
5.Remember Your Guests’ Information
Most of your guests are visiting other churches as well. It may be a few weeks before you see them again. If you can save their information in your system so they don’t have to go through the process again on their second visit, that will help them feel more at home and welcome.