A friend shared this and it struck me. This is such a beautiful image of our Father God's heart. I often think of God as pretty busy... it's hard to really absorb the concept of His omnipresence and omniscience - that He is present with us as He is present with those in Syria or in the remotest or most populated places in the world. He orchestrates all while we are awake and while we sleep... while we are in the company of many and while we're alone, He is with us. I think there are multiple times in our lives where we come to a point of asking God, "where do I sit?" Or "what's my place, God?" But, TRUST that God is for all of us, & yet, a Personal God with a specific place and plan for each one. Hebrews 4:16 says, "So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most." God is never too busy for us. He is never caught off guard. He is not the God of chaos but of order. And more than that, He desires for us to approach Him and seek Him, our Constant One. It's always a good time for Him. That humbles and brings joy to my heart. And emboldens my belief that the Church should do and be the same. We should always have a place for people. We should never be too busy for them or be caught off guard. The Church should be a place that extends the grace, mercy, hospitality that we have experienced, with a cheerful heart. “Therefore receive one another as Christ has received you, for the glory of God.”• Romans 15:7
Oh Hey There TBR Family!
Happy New Year!
I wanted to thank yall for an amazing first year in service to churches developing their Guest Services Ministries. I've said it before, but if this was just me, just my initiation and doing, then I would look like a fool and this would not bear Jesus-fruit. Every night, I humbly thank God for making it clear to me that this is what He called me to do after years of prayer 2 years ago and as He continues to make it clear. I am so grateful for the ways He has made it clear by guiding, equipping, giving discernment, holding back, establishing new friendships in the field, growing old friendships, and opened the doors of His Church and the heart of His Bride. Guest Services is an eternally significant work that I pray every church invests in wisely. It is the front lines of discipleship... it Gospels people, glorifies God, and graces members and guests. This time last year, as I was praying and casting vision, I set a goal of hoping to serve 5 churches. This year God has shown this is all Him because, as of this past December, I have the honor of serving 7 churches, along with the exciting partnership with the North American Mission Board! We've seen churches grow in their leadership and service to the souls they've been given to attend to and care for. Doing life with God is beyond the imagination exciting!! I pray for more of a closeness with God in 2017 and to see more of His goodness in the land of the living!
Habakkuk 1:5 says," The Lord replied, 'Look around at the nations; look and be amazed! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it." God said this to His prophet in the midst of the prophet expressing his deep concern about the state of his world at the time. The fact that the Creator God listens and replies to His creation (as seen here and in our daily lives), is a miracle in itself. But, the fact that He promises to show up for us constantly, despite us constantly turning from Him and trying to fix things on our own is a miracle that should daily bring us to our knees in joy! I pray that you and I press in to His presence in ways that we have not done... I know God is stirring something up in our day and He wants to use His Church, His Bride. Let's all unite in the work to build the Church and the Kingdom, for our good and His glory, in Jesus' name!
PS. Thanks to my amazing and hotty hubby (Phillip Carlisle) for his support, wisdom, humor, love and encouragement!!! Love you so much!!!
For those who serve and work in church, the Holiday's can often be more stressful and busy than those attending our services. There are so many who look forward to celebrating of the birth of Christ at the worship services and activities your church works tirelessly to provide. I'm praying that in the preparations, you, your staff, and volunteers are able to have moments of rest and awe. Often, as we work to make a sacred space for those attending to recognize and recall the awe of God coming as a man... a baby... to meet us where we are, drawing us to Himself, to restore and redeem, we often can find ourselves facilitating, but not fixating. I pray that as leaders, you take time to reorient your gaze to the Star of Bethlehem that points to the King...let it guide you by the night of the distractions - whether good or bad. I pray, also, that you, as the angels did for the Shepherds and the Wise Men, do the same for your staff and volunteers. Help them to behold the beauty in the busy.... to see Jesus in the serving.
In terms of preparations, some things to consider in support of the volunteers:
- a little gift of gratitude: Pinterest has so many easy and inexpensive ideas (i.e. mason jars of cappuccino mix); handwritten "thank you" notes.
- emailed devotionals specifically to encourage them in their serving and ask how you can be praying for them.
- remind them (where there are multiple services), that they need to serve one and attend one.
- ask if there is anything they need to support their service (extra refreshment supplies, another volunteer in the parking lot, etc.)
- remind volunteers to walk with, rather than simply give directions to, the guests to help them get to the bathroom, nursery, etc., especially if it's the guests' first time.
- if the volunteer isn't sure if the guest is new, remind them that they can ask, "Great to see you! How long have you been attending?"
- give them a heads up to any information that volunteers and/or guests would need to know (worship service times, offering changes in the service, giving opportunities, service opportunities, etc.)
-- empower the volunteers to make decisions that will help the guest in situations that arise. (i.e. if a guest is coughing, the volunteers should feel empowered to offer the guest a cup of water and/or a mint; if a large group of guests arrive, empower the volunteer to get them extra seating so they can sit together; etc.)
- make an announcement to the congregation about the opportunity they have to serve this Christmas season with Guest Services!
-- if you get new volunteers, partner them with a mentor in the area you place them so they feel confident and equipped.
- remind volunteers to be flexible! We can make our plans, but stuff happens. (i.e. guests who come into the service late, need to be helped and attended to to get them a seat with joy and grace, not shame).
Please let me know of anything I can help with!
Yall are doing incredibly significant Kingdom work and I’m honored to be associated with yall!!
I felt like I needed to be served my whole life. Now, I just want to live to serve others.”
– One of my Guest Services Team members
Church hospitality, or guest services, should always aim to remove the guesswork for a guest visiting your church.
From the “streets to the seats” (Searcy, Fusion), your team should be strategically equipped and placed to best assist your guests.
From your parking lot heroes, to the way you present announcements, your guests should feel that you were expecting them and that you seek to honor God by honoring them.
Intentionally creating environments and culture that is organized and authentic helps your guests feel you have been anticipating their arrival. In order to do that, your church hospitality, or guest services, ministries should consist of several components organized under two major categories: Up Front and Behind the Scenes.
Your church’s hospitality ministry to your guests begins before your guests even visit your church.
Church hospitality, or guests services, cannot ever just be a committee thing, it has to be a culture thing. When it becomes a fundamental part of your culture, your members, who are out in the community every day, are your hospitality ambassadors. Your community must know you’re there and that you’re an active participant.
I truly believe that the flashy church phase is passing as more young people are desiring a church that challenges them and cares for the community.
Being up front, starts with your community, but social media and your website play an important role as well. It should be attractive and easy for your members to share. Members who are excited about what God is doing in and through their church are eager to share.
People are instinctively drawn to that.
In Nelson Searcy’s book, Fusion, he discusses five main components of an effective guest services ministry: Greeted, directed, treated, seated and follow up.
Investing in all of these components are invaluable to the guest experience. Each area’s effectiveness is reliant upon the others. If you have team members greeting, but the expectation wasn’t clear that they are to direct guests by walking with them to the refreshments, or to a seat in the worship experience, your team members have simply said a friendly “hello” and may have missed eternally significant opportunities.
There are thousands of friendly churches. Friendly is good, but God calls us to help affect life change. He calls us to be restorers of the broken, the light in the darkness, a city on a hill.
Biblical hospitality affects life change through a process, and following up with your guests is a critical part of that.
There is a 16 percent chance a first-time guest will return, but an 85 percent chance they will return after a second visit (McIntosh, Beyond the First Visit).
Following up with your guests is crucial to your guests returning or not. The follow-up process begins with providing easy ways for guests to connect with your church during their first visit and continues for several weeks after.
Behind the Scenes
For Christ’s heart of hospitality to go beyond a committee and become a part of your church culture, the volunteers must be valued so much that there is a church-wide excitement in serving.
This comes through pulling a “Nehemiah” by constantly recasting vision, and creating processes for recruitment, on-boarding, mentoring and building unity. This committee should become a catalyst for contagious community throughout the church.
People will come to your church if they feel the members are actually excited about what God is doing in their church!
“Researchers discovered that it takes a minority of just 5 percent to influence a crowd’s direction–and that the other 95 percent follow without realizing it.” - Dr. Rick Nauert
Organization is essential for progress. The proper structure of team members is necessary. Have a coordinator in place and team leaders over the various areas and volunteers that are passionately a part of your church’s Guest Services ministry.
As you know, having the right people in the right places is of greatest importance. Those team leaders should be over-equipped so they can, then, equip their volunteers. Burn out can be mostly avoided if volunteers feel they have been given proper expectations and tools they need to succeed in their area of service.
While guest services or church hospitality isn’t the end-all-be-all, it is the frontlines of disciple making, therefore, it must be prioritized.
Historically, the Church set the example for hospitality and loving their communities by taking care of the poor, orphaned and widowed giving the Church a strong and influential voice in the culture.
Unfortunately, the Church has, presently, found itself in the position of following the examples of others in hospitality and customer service, like big business.
Brian Solis, author of X: The Experience When Business Meets Design, discusses how, in the business world, more consumers want a meaningful experience. Therefore, customer service is now a brand in and of its own.
Churches must adapt this thinking through a gospel-centered filter. We should be designing and implementing guest services ministries in our churches so that people experience God, even when they’re driving in our parking lots, because of the way our parking lot hero helped get them through a potentially stressful parking experience with ease.
Everything is an experience, and the Church should, once again, be setting the example.
Original Post: https://www.namb.net/your-church-on-mission-blog/church-hospitality-structure-and-its-impact
Passionate about Jesus and people, I've added this blog to communicate strategy and thoughts about Biblical Hospitality and The Church as a movement, rather than just people in a building once a week. It seems like everyone is blogging these days, (which is awesome!) and I know that there are always better and more insightful thoughts, but God is leading this so I'm just writing in obedience.