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
We need to receive this for ourselves and have more of it for others... I have a problem saying "no" to things. Some things God increases my capacity for, other things I attempt to do in my own strength (happens more often than not)... I'm tired, but my God isn't. I'm tired from not setting certain boundaries, and yet, do I always have grace for those I do life with who are feeling these same pressures? Probably not always. I'm tired... we're collectively a tired people. But our God isn't. He continues to call, equip, provide strength, humor, community, and GRACE! If I'm extended that, I should be extending it to others tenfold. Think how the world (immediate and global) would be different if we made room for more grace? Lord, help me to extend grace, not expose the gross... help me to be a person of peace, not a person pressure... help me to have expectations, without stifling excitement, in Jesus' name! | “And don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God’s place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there.” • 1 Corinthians 7:17 MSG | "We won't be distracted by comparison if we're captivated with purpose." • Bob Goff |
This blog was originally posted on the North American Mission Board website: https://www.namb.net/your-church-on-mission-blog/why-hospitality
The ultimate act of hospitality was when Jesus Christ died for sinners to make everyone who believes a member of the household of God. - John Piper
My friend, Ashley, embodies Christ-like hospitality. She has been a small group co-leader for high school girls for years. In their senior year, Ashley’s beloved co-leader moved away, devastating the group. After she left, one of the girls stopped coming. Ashley reached out to her, and prayed for months she would come back. One night, she returned! Ashley ran towards her, gave her a big hug and said she was so glad she was back.
A few weeks later, this young lady was baptized. In her testimony, she said it was the way Ashley lovingly and freely received her back that helped her see Jesus clearly.
Simply powerful. Luke 15 kind of powerful.
Ashley isn’t on the hospitality committee at church–it’s who she is. She has allowed God to cultivate in her a church culture that is obsessed with biblical hospitality.
My pastor often says, “You don’t reproduce what you hope; you reproduce what you are.”
Pastors must prioritize biblical hospitality or others won’t. You can try to implement the ministry, but it won’t be authentic. Coercion leads to burn out.
So, why is it crucial that pastors, and the rest of the leadership, invest in being discipled and making disciples that are passionate about extending what Christ first extended?
I’m so glad you asked!
Did you know most first-time guests decide within seven minutes if they’re going to come back or not (Searcy, Fusion)? Or 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)?
Biblical hospitality does three things:
Biblical Hospitality … Gospels
In Genesis, God created the most hospitable place for His people. A place of freedom, void of shame, guilt or anxiety. A place created for Adam and Eve to dwell with God, to be loved, cared for, accepted and communed with.
The Bible tells of many places God created to commune with His people, even when being denied.
In Exodus, God gave instructions to create new hospitable places, the tabernacle and His temple. God’s heart was that His presence would restore His people to Himself. But, His free-willed people, would, again, deny God.
After years of silence, John 1:14 tells us God sent Himself as His
only begotten Son–Jesus!
God became a physical man with arms that hug, hands that wash and heal, a heart that seeks to extend hospitality to His people.
Though God’s people denied Him, God continues to pursue by sending His Spirit in Acts! If we choose Him, He makes us the Garden, the temple and like Christ.
God has chosen to dwell inside His delight, making us the honorable hosts of His hospitality!
Still, He promises His best is yet to come. One day, He’ll receive us in His heavenly hospitable kingdom.
When we realize the truth of the gospel, we should be compelled to help restore what’s been broken in those we come in contact with, especially church guests.
Reception, restoration, redemption.
Biblical Hospitality … Glorifies
… Jesus, not culture.
Some churches have, unfortunately, gotten off track. These days, there is much competing for the attention of people and for the attentions of the Church.
Christ followers have to be anchored in 1) loving God and 2) loving people.
My friend says, “You can only take two things with you to heaven: The Word and people.”
Despite what culture says about how best to love people, extending biblical hospitality is key.
We’re called to be culture shapers, not allow culture to shape us.
Every night, I pray over my little boy that God would mold him into a kingdom builder, culture shaper and world changer! Truly, our hearts’ desire for our children should be the same for ourselves and others! The Church must lead this for the sake of the next generation!
In a Christianity Today article about “The Leavers” of Church, Barna Group was cited as estimating that by age 29, 80 percent of the church population will become “disengaged” with church culture.
The Church has to remain anchored so we don’t lose people in the chaos. Someone will always out-entertain the Church, so stay focused.
A powerful tool of the enemy in Western culture is distraction. But, biblical hospitality is counter cultural:
It's community vs. cliques while encouraging others with the freedom to be themselves.
It’s a grace culture vs. a shame culture.
Its depth vs. entertainment.
Biblical hospitality glorifies Jesus, not culture.
Biblical Hospitality … Graces
Biblical hospitality meets people where they are so that life change can happen. Just like what God did for us.
The Greek word for hospitality used in the Bible means to love “strangers.”
In Luke 10, at the end of the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus asked, "Which one proved to be a neighbor to the man attacked by bandits?” The man replied, “The one that showed mercy.” Jesus said, “Go and do the same."
That's the heart of hospitality to our neighbors who, if we’re honest, are mostly strangers.
Christ-followers know Jesus is real because we've experienced Him. He has continued to graciously reveal Himself to us through many ways, mostly through people.
We have the opportunity to be “Jesus” to someone every day, not just on Sunday mornings.
My friend, Jason Young says, “how you feel about a guest walking in will be directly reflected in how they feel about you when they walk out.” It also has an impact on how they feel about God and the Church.
Ultimately, Hospitality is more than a potluck (although, that can be a very spiritual experience), it's Gospel-ing people.
Ephesians 2:19-22 speaks to how God desires to use us to extend His hospitable heart–one of the main purposes of the Church: "You’re no longer wandering
exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer
strangers ... You belong here … He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles…for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home."
If we know the purpose of the Church, do our pursuits align?
Jesus is the cornerstone–the ultimate example of hospitality.
Hospitality shouldn't be something we tag on. It should be thecornerstone in our mission to evangelize and make disciples.
Seeking to develop a purposed hospitality ministry will only facilitate accomplishing those eternally significant goals.
What a hope! What a joy! What a responsibility!
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.