Prior to COVID-19, most churches had already adopted, adapted or developed a "first step out of the auditorium" that was regularly promoted and held on a consistent basis. Your first step may have been Saddleback's CLASS 101, an adaptation of some other first step class, or a class completely of your own design, but most churches had this strategy in play (and let's just say, if you don't yet have a "first step out of the auditorium" you need to!).
As adjustments were made during COVID-19 (i.e., social distancing, sheltering in place, online services, groups meeting online, etc.), the need for steps out of the virtual auditorium quickly became elevated.
The basic question is, how effective is your current first step out of the auditorium?
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Everyone should be asking the basic question. We should also be asking a more advanced question: How effective is the connection potential of our first step out of the auditorium?
Don't miss this point. A well designed first step out of the auditorium points participants to a carefully crafted next step.
Evaluate your "first step out of the auditorium":
1. Are you holding it often enough and promoting it regularly enough?
Are you holding it often enough and promoting it regularly enough to capture the attention of unconnected people (who are typically infrequent attenders)?
Your church's size and the number of new or unconnected people you hope to see take this first step are probably determining how frequently you are holding the class. How frequently you are holding the class is probably determining how regularly you are promoting it.
Note: If your size and number of new or unconnected people make the first step awkward to hold on a frequent basis, it may the wrong first step. An intermediate first step held more frequently, designed to feel good with only a few people, may be begging to be implemented.
If your size and number of new or unconnected people make the first step awkward to hold on a frequent basis, it may the wrong first step. An intermediate first step held more frequently, designed to feel good with only a few people,… Click To Tweet
2. Is your "first step" easy to take?
Is it at a convenient time? Does the way you offer it remove obstacles (i.e., by providing childcare, including a meal or a a snack if the time dictates, short enough to fit in busy schedules, etc.).
Note: Pay close attention to any obstacles or issues that prevent offering an easy "first step" (i.e., another ministry or program has the best room reserved, childcare can't be offered at the best time, etc.). Removing obstacles is not a nice extra. It is essential practice if you want to connect infrequent and unconnected attenders.
3. Is your "first step" obvious?
Are you offering it in a way that is unopposed (that is, alone on the calendar or time slot as the singular opportunity)? Is it clear from your promotion that this class or experience is the thing you want everyone to do? Or does it actually feel like one of several equally valid next steps?
Note: While all of these steps are challenging, converting from a buffet of options to a single best choice might be the most difficult. Until you are able to take this step, it will be challenging to offer an obvious first step out of the auditorium.
4. Is you "first step" strategic?
Does the class or experience point attenders to a clearly marked next step (or a very small set of possible next steps)? To be strategic your "first step" must offer built-in and predetermined next steps that are designed for infrequent and unconnected attenders to take. These built-in and predetermined next steps must be easy, obvious and strategic themselves.
To be strategic your first step must offer built-in and predetermined next steps that are designed for infrequent and unconnected attenders to take. These built-in and predetermined next steps must be easy, obvious and strategic… Click To Tweet
Note: This is where you must do some of your best work. If your "first step" does not include as one of a small set of next steps attending a connection or signing up for a short-term group, you are leaving a very important opportunity on the table.
How did you do? Do you have a "first step" out of the auditorium? Are you holding it often enough and promoting it regularly enough? Is it an easy step? Is it an obvious step? Is it strategic?
Your answers to these four questions will reveal your assignment going forward.
My four session mini-course, How to Design NEXT Steps and FIRST Steps might be just what you need.
- How Would You Rate the First Steps out of Your Auditorium?
- Supercharge Your Ministry Impact with These 5 Questions
- Small Group Ministry Obstacle #1: A Bloated Belong and Become Menu
- Are Your Next Steps Premeditated?
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