It's been a little over a week now since I was at Cultivate11 in Huntington Beach in SoCal.

I met lots of fantastic and friendly people in the four day whirlwind tour. Here is one principle that I've come away with that I wanted to share.

I arrived at LAX after a 13 hour flight from Australia. Tired and looking forward to stretching my legs and the drive to Huntington Beach. After departing from the plane I walked quickly so I could get ahead of most of my flight in the immigration queue. 

Only to be confronted by a very long queue in the 'aliens' queue. The Americans had their own queue that wasn't really that long.

After being in the queue for quite some time those of us in the 'aliens' queue all talked about which immigration officer we would like to process our fingerprint scans, our facial scans and our interrogation about our identity. There was one guy who was especially slow and seemingly very grumpy with everyone he dealt with.

Around one and a half hours later after shuffling about 20 metres in a zig zag pattern I finally got to an immigration officer. 

Guess which one I got?

That's right. The grumpy guy. Here is the very first impression that I got of the United States of America, grumpy, let me do my job, no personal engagement, no eye contact, no smile. Wow.

I was so glad to leave this experience and leave LAX airport. Frankly, this experience sucked.

I was so fortunate that every other experience was positive, full of welcome, polite, smiling, happy, engaging people. If the immigration had of been the only chance the United States of America had to make an impression on me then it would of been as my eight year old son says, an 'epic fail'.

Here's the thing, churches can have the same issue. (I've blogged about the fact that you never get a second chance to make a first impression before)

1. We'll put a non-people person in a people person job.

2. We'll create an environment that stiffles rather than engages a new person.

3. We focus on the process and get the person to fit our process and systems no matter what the cost.

4. We put our best people on the inside rather than on the edges.

When designing your systems and processes at the 'front door' of your church, place the right people around the right process. I'm not saying that the immigration administration process sucked. It was the experience around it that switched me off.

Everything we do communicates something. Ask yourself what is your church communicating currently through the people you have in these places?