Strategy & Marketing

Why Churches Should Apply Their Visitor Strategy to Vendors and Contractors

… and watch your impact skyrocket!

When it comes to new visitors, most church employees are warm and welcoming. They have a strategic plan to make visitors feel at home, are followed up, and get plugged into the local church community. However, when it comes to outside vendors, contractors, freelancers, or consultants, church employees are often skeptical, uninterested, and sometimes outright hostile.

Why the difference?

Churches are what could be called “self-contained organisms.” They don’t need much outside input or resources to operate, and as a result, tend to be inward focused instead of outward focused. As a result, typical church employees rarely encounter outside contractors because that’s usually handled by an executive pastor or facilities manager.

That’s why I’ve met so many outside church contractors, A/V consultants, engineers, designers, freelancers, and others with very negative feelings about their experience. It’s not so much about job performance, because every contractor or freelancer is used to meeting high standards. It’s more about the typical church employee’s inexperience dealing with outsiders, and far too often – employee insecurity about outsiders being there at all.

But outside consultants, contractors, and other vendors can be a powerful witness for the church. They often have many of their own employees who could be potential church members, or in the case of freelancers and consultants, they often have highly regarded reputations and influence that could greatly benefit the church.

Here’s a suggestion: Have your church apply your visitor strategy to vendors and contractors. In other words, use the same techniques to engage outside working contractors and vendors that you use for making church visitors welcome. Instead of cultivating an “outsider” mentality which too often results in feelings of competition, insecurity, suspicion, and skepticism – let’s create a welcoming and honoring atmosphere where they could do amazing work.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a construction team, a freelance designer, a communications consultant, a marketing firm, an audio or video installer, or someone else.

Every day make them feel like a Sunday visitor, and watch your church’s impact skyrocket.

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  1. Not just churches, but ministries and non-profits. There’s a ministry I supported for decades, with substantial gifts – I will no longer give to them because of how I was treated as a consultant. I love their work, but not the way they treat people.

  2. Many (maybe even most) ministries have an ugly underbelly. I was employed by one. Fortunately, there were a couple of executives who saw the problem and took measures to fix the problems. Kudos to Barbara Cerullo and Becky Henderson for changing the lives of at least 350 families.

  3. A little know secret to evaluate a Senior Pastor’s character (not his preaching or leadership or discipleship). Don’t only ask the family, the elders, the congregation. Find the mechanic, cook or janitor that has been there a while. If the pastor treats them with respect (enough to praise them) you have some good potential.

    1. Great point, Don – that’s how we always evaluate our daughter in school. We don’t ask the teachers or the principal about her behavior, since she’s smart enough to know she needs to behave around them. We ask the maintenance folks, office staff, and lunch servers. I’ve used Phil’s quote before: “People who actually are ‘stars’ are a joy to work with – it’s the people who think they’re stars that’s the problem.”

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