Think back to your first time visiting Perimeter. Finding your way around was probably a pretty big task.
Where do I park?
Where do I go in?
Who can answer questions?
Where do my kids go?
Where do I go?
Wouldn't a great big START HERE sign have been really helpful? Well, now we have one!
A key to our ALL IN: Kingdom IMPACT involves being invitational — reaching out to our friends and neighbors to Greet, Befriend, and Invite them to get to know Perimeter and what we're all about. But what happens after that invitation is accepted? What can the church do to make the building itself more user-friendly?
Answering that question was the birth of the START HERE program.
Guest Services Director Tricia Stradley started by becoming a newcomer herself. She visited other churches and gauged how easy — or hard — it was to find her way around and get answers when you are literally starting at zero. "It was then that I realized we didn't really have an intentional first-time visitor strategy," said Tricia. "And I wanted to support our desire to be invitational by changing that."
START HERE begins before a visitor even enters the building. New visitor parking signs in the parking lots will direct visitors to prime parking set aside just for them — about 65 parking spaces in all.
START HERE information desks are located in the Atrium, visible both from people walking in the front door and out the Sanctuary doors.
Additional START HERE greeters and desks are located in KidsTown and KidsQuest to aid visitors with registering their kids on Sunday morning.
"The website is currently being overhauled as well to make it more user-friendly," said Tricia. "And START HERE will be front-and-center on the website as well."
START HERE officially launched on July 15 which was Camp Sunday — when Camp All-American families are invited to a special Camp-themed worship service. So it was a great opportunity to lay out our new Welcome Mat when there are a lot of first-time visitors.
"A couple walked in the building for the first time and just walked up to the START HERE desk and said, 'We’re brand new here, and it says start here, so we’re here,'" said Tricia. "That's exactly what we want to happen!"
START HERE will grow and morph as time goes on. Tricia said that soon there will be START HERE first-time visitor gift bags, a texting program that will allow visitors to text a special code and get information about the church — including a digital coupon for a free drink from the Atrium Cafe! — and more.
"The key to the success of the program is our START HERE volunteers," said Tricia. "This is a group of 65 people who are building community with each other by expanding our church community to include newcomers. They're receiving special training and wearing specially marked clothing. Their presence in our lobbies has really been elevated from a more traditional greeter."
Tricia references a book she's reading called People Are the Mission by Danny Franks. "He says 'Every weekend is somebody's first weekend,' and it's true!" says Tricia.