…and religious educators and lay leaders and parishioners. Jackie Huba at Church of the Customer Blog recently blogged about Capt. Denny Flanagan, a United Airlines “rogue pilot” who has developed quite a “word of mouth” following.

  • He mingles with passengers in the gate area
  • He makes gate announcements himself, updating passengers about weather conditions and sets realistic expectations for delays
  • He uses his cellphone to call United operations to ask about connections for passengers
  • He passes out information cards to passengers with fun facts about the plane; he signs two of them, whose owners will win a bottle of wine
  • He snaps pictures of animals in the cargo hold to show owners their pets are safely on board
  • He writes notes to first-class passengers and elite frequent fliers on the back of his business cards, addressing them by name and thanking them for their business
  • He personally calls parents of unaccompanied children to give them updates
  • He instructs flight attendants to pass out napkins asking passengers to write notes about experiences on United, good or bad
  • He orders 200 McDonald’s hamburgers for passengers if his flight is delayed or diverted

The motivation behind Flanagan’s actions is simple,”‘I just treat everyone like it’s the first flight they’ve ever flown,’ the very smart captain told the WSJ in a highly valuable front-page story. ‘The customer deserves a good travel experience.'” Of course this immediately got me thinking of what a similarly motivated minister might do, things like:

  • Mingle with parishioners in the foyer before the service
  • Let folks know about exciting opportunities for faith development and spiritual growth from the pulpit
  • Pass out information cards to visitors with fun facts about the congregation
  • Personally call parents of new children in the religious education program
  • Visit each of the religious education classes at least once a year

You know, little things like that. I know that some of our ministers already are doing these and similar sort of things. But I also know of ministers who are so busy on Sunday mornings with the work of the church that they don’t have a lot of time left over for personal touches like these. I heard once, however, that Sunday morning was for visitors. And if all the leaders in our congregations (lay and ordained, volunteer and professional) were to treat everyone as if this were the first time they visited a congregation (including the children), then we’d probably be generating more positive “word of mouth” about our congregations. Just a thought.

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