Church Hospitality Ministry Archive

Next to personal evangelism, Church Hospitality is arguably one of the most important ministries of the local church. So many churches fail in this ministry of kindness. I've collected nearly 100 of these articles in a download resource for sale. Visit How To Welcome Church Visitors for information about this ebook

Useful Small Talk at the Church Welcome Center

In our family’s current journey of looking for a church, we empathize anew with Christian families that are new movers and have to find a new church on their own.

I am re-discovering is the value of small talk when engaging your first time visitor.  (Read these 20 Crazy Church Greeter Comments).

Our church visit this past Sunday drew my attention to the value of small talk. [Read more...]

Oops! We used the wrong door – A church visit story

We found our way to the church parking lot, in a round about way.

We drove past the one driveway and found the second driveway was roped off.   We drove around the city block to once again approach the one and only OPEN driveway.

As our family makes a trek to the third church in our church shopping campaign, I’m beginning to empathize in a new way with new movers like ourselves searching for a church to become a part of.

Since we have no churched friends in our new town, no one will invite us to their church that they are proud of.

A church Visit story church shopping

This week, we chose a bi-lingual church for their 11am service, and like the last church shopping visit, we chose it out of the local newspaper.

There was no website in the paper ad, but with a Google search of the church name and city, their website came right up.

On the church website, we quickly found the answers to the two questions we had.

1.  Service Times

2.  Directions.

Both were clearly indicated on the home page.

However, much of the rest of the church website from navigation to more details was broken and not working.  It was hard to learn more about this church from its website ahead of time.   They even chose to use stock photos, rather than photos of their own church community.

We found the front door – oops!

Church Door was lockedAfter successfully parking the car, after our round-the-block trip, we approached the front church doors that faced the parking lot.  The covered front area provided a space for dropping off passengers and framed the beautiful entrance to the church.

Two different groups of teenagers stood in front of each set of doors, wonderfully enjoying each others fellowship, but making this new family (us) walk around them to pull on the front doors handles.

The church doors were locked.

I caught the eye of a few teenagers.  Even though I’m over 40 years old, their stare at our awkwardness created feelings of incompetence in me.

We tentatively pulled on the second set of doors, under the watching eye of the second group of talking teenagers.

Locked again.

Embarrassed again.  

My teenage son even commented – “Dad, this is embarrassing.” – even though he didn’t know any of these teens.

Quick Fix:  Is your entrance clearly marked with signage?  (Take this free church sign audit).

Bingo! We found the side door.

A quick glance around the teenagers helped us to see some people walking around the corner of the building.

We followed them and found a side entrance where an usher or church greeter held the door opened.

Finally – this church visitor found the entrance.

The usher greeted us, made eye contact, and his friendly demeanor began to relieve our sense of embarrassment at trying to open a locked door.  He pointed us down the hallway towards the sanctuary, where additional ushers greeted us and led us to

FRONT ROW SEATS!

To make room for us on the front row, the usher  asked a few people already on that front row to go sit somewhere else.

While I’m not usually bothered by sitting up front, this could be a hospitality error at drawing unnecessary attention to your visitors.  We felt the eye contact of the service leader, and then held the direct gaze of the worship leader welcoming first time visitors.  We somewhat felt forced to raise our hands when asked.  We couldn’t anonomously hide.

Our kids were invited to their own ministry

A friendly children’s ministry leader found us during the worship set and personally invited my children to a class.  That was an awesome step of hospitality.  By now, my kids are used to testing new environments (new schools, 3rd new church, new groups of everything), so they willingly went.

At the end, their commentary was a little disappointing.

My 6th grade daughter didn’t have a class or Bible teaching time.  It was 100% play time.

My 9th grade son’s class had a small teaching lesson, but my son’s take on the class was a shoulder shrug “ok, I guess.”  It didn’t feel like the right place for him as he was the oldest in the class.

My kids felt that their time apart was merely babysitting vs. any kind of Sunday school.  They too are making comparisons to prior church visits.

The worship service itself

The worship service itself was a quality experience.  We enjoyed the congregational singing, the liturgical dancers, and the celebratory mood of the congregation.

The sermon was entertaining and full of general Bible truth, but the preacher would have received a failing grade from my homiletics teacher.  The points were somewhat generic, and not actually connected to the Bible reading for the day.

The preacher was a good communicator, and clearly spoke Biblical truth, but I found myself drifting in and out of attention during his hour long winding road sermon of tangential thoughts that had little to do with the Bible lesson for the day.

The sermon had a gospel presentation built in, and there was an evangelistic call to follow Jesus.  A few people came forward, received prayer, and there was an extended worship and ministry time.

As we left

We left out the side doors of the sanctuary.

The worship leader was there to give us a small visitors packet and quickly gave us more information about the church.

After that, it was all over.  Not another word was said to us, though plenty of fellowship was going on around us.

My review of the church visitor packet

I’ve written some articles on ideas for church visitor packets (here,  here, here, and here).  Since we were the anonymous church visitor, the welcome packet is a great place for us to learn more about the church we just attended.

Of the three churches we have visited so far in our church shopping experience, this is the first church to give us a welcome packet.

The church welcome packet contained:

  • Brochure on the pastors.
  • Brochure of the core beliefs (doctrinal statement)
  • Bookmark
  • Business card
  • Brochure about the church ministries and its leaders.

The quality of the brochures was reasonable.

Would I return?

Because I train other church in hospitality issues, I am extra aware of what is missing and what is done right.  In spite of the criticisms I have, our family would still be willing to return to this church.

This church fits some of our criteria, and we were not really bothered by some of the hospitality practices of locked doors and front row seating.  Our kids are willing to give it another try a little later, thinking that their Sunday school experience might have been a lazy Sunday in August type experience.

We’ll have this church on our list of possible ones to reconsider as we continue our church shopping visits.

Learn from my church visits

How to Welcome Church VisitorsI’ve written lot about the church hospitality lessons I’ve learned.

(Here are 5 hospitality lessons I picked up last year).

I’ve written a download only church hospitality e-book that compiles several lessons I’ve learned from visiting churches over the last 7 years.

This e-book is a practical ‘how-to’ manual on creating a better first impression to welcome visitors to church.   If you are beginning to learn about church hospitality practices, this will help you get started.

Click here to read more detail about my e-book, “How to Welcome Church Visitors.

What you can learn from our church shopping experience

In the summer of 2014, our family moved to central Florida due to an expansion of our ministry’s vision and reach.

  • We are new movers into the community.
  • We have no friends yet.
  • We are a blank slate looking for a church.
  • We are the first time visitor.
  • We are the church shopper.

I wrote up our experience of the first church we visited.

A church greeter volunteer joyfully passed out the morning bulletin.  However, our question to her created a chain reaction of clumsy service.  Regular training of your volunteers would fix that awkward church hospitality experience

Last week, we visited a second church as a first time visitor.

Church Shopper Confession

We are church shopping

We are new movers to this area, so we are shopping for a church.

As a family, we have over 22 years invested in churches were we have lived, so we bring an informed experience to our church shopping experience.

Since we don’t know anybody in this town to get a person to invite us church, we have to rely on publicity that a church puts out.

That would include newspaper ads, and of course a really good church website.

Because we are a bi-lingual family, we wanted to visit a Spanish language church.

What you can learn: 

  • Your visitor may be church shopping and brings a mental list of what they want.
  • Your churched visitor will make comparisons to prior experiences.

How we found the church

We started our search with Google, trying to locate a church with Spanish services.   We tried search terms in English and in Spanish and didn’t find satisfactory results quickly.

Shopping at the local Hispanic market, we found a newspaper that had two full pages of advertisements for churches.

Some forgot to state where they were (address), or website, or service times.  If we couldn’t find out more information, that ad cost was entirely wasted.

If the newspaper ad had a website, we spent the morning looking at church websites.  I could talk about all the church website problems I found, but that would be a 6000 word article all by itself.

For the church we chose, the church website had service times easily located, as well as  the directions on how to get there (for me, these two facts are the most important feature of a church website).

Remember these church website facts:

  • 75% of first-time guests have already formed an impression of your church based on your website.
  • Your “greeters” are no longer your first contact with your guests.  According to one poll, 80% of people who visit your church visit your website first.

What you can learn:

  • A working church website is your best “front door.”
  • Do a SEO review of your church website to make sure it shows up in results.
  • Newspaper ads have a place for churched new movers like us.

Our Visit

We made it to the 11am service without much of a problem.  Other than finding the right door to get in, we didn’t have much awkwardness to getting to our seat.

It’s a small enough fellowship that our presence as first time church visitors was obvious.

We were quickly greeted by the founding pastor and his wife before we entered sanctuary.

After filling out a visitor card with our contact information, we found our seat.

Another usher checked with us to make sure we had filled out a visitor contact card.

Just before the passing of the peace, our names were read out from the visitor card and we were made to stand and we received a round of applause.  While this practice didn’t bother me personally, I know that being singled out as a visitor can make your visitor feel awkward and uncomfortable.  I don’t recommend it as a practice.

What you can learn:

  • Friendliness rules the day.
  • Friendliness is measured by the initiative taken by members.
  • Singling out your visits may cause embarrassment, rather than blessing.

Quality Matters

Every slide used had a bilingual setup.

A worship verse in Spanish, with an English equivalent underneath.

This lead to very word dense slides.  Sometimes the font size got so small that we had to squint to read it.

A few times, the English verse would be an entirely different verse from the hymn.  The Spanish would be stanza 3, the English was stanza 4.

When it came time for the Scripture reading, the passage displayed was entirely in English, but the reader read from a Spanish translation.

The slide confusion leads to cognitive dissonance – reading one thing in one language, and hearing it spoken aloud in another.

What you can learn:

  • Readability counts.

The relational factor overcomes everything.

What charmed us about this church was its friendliness.  That is the best tool to getting your church visitor to come back.

A few people took the initiative to talk with us.  We were personally greeted by the founding pastor.

We were greeted by a few other people as well.

The preaching pastor took some time as we walked out the door to visit with us and tell us a little more.

He even went the extra mile and called us on Monday to invite us to a follow up gathering of visitors.  That was a neat touch.

The relational warmth of genuine people easily overcame logistical issues like size of fonts and filing out a visitor card.

The personal phone call from this small church pastor has been the highlight of our church shopping experience so far.

I’ve learned from my church shopping experiences than friendliness overcomes any negative impacts on first impressions.  I visited a Spanish language church for a season of my life.  In spite of all their bad first impressions, I stayed and became part of that church.  Read how I became assimilated into their church.

What you can learn:

  • Friendliness can overcome any negative impacts on awkward first impressions.

Would we go back?

This is a one of the proof-tests of your hospitality experience.

Would we make a return visit?

Yes, this one would be worthy of a return visit simply because of their friendliness.

Ultimately, we know already this church wouldn’t fit all our criteria as a church shopper, so it won’t be our permanent home.

But it is a church that we could recommend to others who are looking for a bi-lingual experience in a particular denominational tradition.

Coaching Call

Do you want to discuss your where your hospitality system is stuck?

I offer a coaching call where I spend time on the phone with you or your committee, up to 90 minutes, where I help you trouble shoot and develop some action plans.  I’ve visited lots of churches as that first time visitor and you can learn from my experiences.

I can help you review your systems through a step by step flow chart that I’ve developed.  Read more about that hospitality coaching here.

photo credit: *PaysImaginaire* via cc

Should unbelievers be invited to church?

A year ago, I posted this question to the EvangelismCoach.org Facebook page.

“Should we invite unsaved friends to church?” Give a Yes or No, and then give a reason.

The answers were pretty divided between Yes and No, with some strong opinions:

  • Yes, the church is on an evangelistic mission.
  • No, the church is for believers only to train believers to go into the world, get them saved, and then bring them in.

It’s not my point here to drift into a full theology of the nature of the church, but to focus on the vocabulary of the question: what do I mean when I use the word church in this question?

I mean the gathered assembly, whether it meets in a high school gym, music hall, or a beautiful church building with stain glass windows and movable chairs.

I worked through the book of Acts to see if I could draw principles about the early gatherings of Christians before the church was more organized.

Invite Unbeliever Friends to Church

Should unbelievers be invited to attend our church?

Since many of you are new subscribers to our weekly newsletter, you may not know these exist in the archives.  Dig around and check out the evidence yourself.

I’m in the Yes camp.

I invite my unsaved friends.

I’ve been inviting my unsaved friends to church for so long that it is part of my teaching.  I teach on

Many of our church hospitality practices are based on the assumption that unsaved persons will be in our church, no matter how that visitor got there.  I’ve never questioned it.

I know many people who came to Christ because a friend invited them to church.   Here is one story.   After a few weeks of hearing the preaching of the word, my friend surrendered his life to Christ.  It is possible that without that invitation, he may have remained lost.  It is possible that God could have brought him salvation by some other method.  My friend was invited to church and came to faith in Christ.

If the church is responsible for evangelism, then it seems that some of it’s meetings will be intentionally evangelistic.

It also seems to me that the church would teach and train church members for evangelism where they live.

The Corinthian Church

We see Paul’s concern for the unbeliever in the midst of the assembly.

First Corinthians 14:23 Paul wants the assembly of the church to be sensitive to the unbeliever in their midst:

Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers.  So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and inquirers or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind?

But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all,  as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!” – 1 Corinthians 14:22-25

Paul assumes that there exists a possibility of unbelievers in the midst of the assembly.

There is no indication of how that unbeliever got there, nor is that the point of text.

But what is clear is a concern for the visitor.  That reflects a strong ethic that should reflect in your church hospitality practices.

Start the discussion:

Answer this question in the comments below.

For what reasons should we invite the unsaved to our church?

Webinar: Step up! First Steps to Running or Restarting Your Welcome Ministries

Church Hospitality Training WebinarIf you are a new leader in your church’s hospitality or welcome ministry, register for this online class to help you get started in preparing for the upcoming season of welcome.

If you

  • Were recently appointed as leader of your hospitality ministry
  • Want to reorganize a stale welcome ministry
  • Re-launch your hospitality ministry for the next season of growth.

you may not know where to begin.

Where do you begin?

If you are just getting started, you are likely feeling a little overwhelmed with where to begin.

It feels like staring into the fog.  Let me help you get the fog out and help develop an action plan to help you get unstuck.

Sign up for Step up!: First Steps to Running or Restarting Your Welcome Ministries, an online class with other leaders who are in a similar position.

I’ve helped other hospitality ministry leaders breakthrough that log-jam of inaction and set them moving forward again. They felt like they were staring into the fog and not seeing much of anything clearly.

You’ll get your creativity going as you think of ways to move forward with your hospitality ministry.

The cost is an investment in retaining new families in your church membership.

Here is what you can expect to learn:

  • The Two Best Measurements of Effective Hospitality
  • The Master Word that will Help You Find and Remove Hidden Faults
  • 7 Areas to Form Your Action Plan

Details

  • Actions-help-about-iconDuration: 1 hour and a 30 minutes.
  • Instant Access to the recording from the class recorded on July 24, 2014
  • It is a narrated PowerPoint presentation.
  • No travel necessary.
  • Price: $39 USD.

Who is this class for?

  • If you are the new leader of your church hospitality committee and not sure how or where to start
  • Did you inherit a stale welcome ministry and need to re-launch it?
  • Perhaps you’ve been appointed as the new director who oversees the hospitality ministry of your church.
  • Does your hospitality ministry feel stuck?
  • Or maybe your hospitality committee is not quite sure where to start?
  • Or perhaps you are rotating off your committee leadership soon and need to train your replacement.

What will you receive?

  • Instant Access to download the video (MP4 for Windows Player and Quicktime).
  • Copies of MP3 audio to download
  • Copies of the slides as a PDF.
  • The optional handout that accompanies the teaching, along with links to further resources.
  • Permission to use this recording and resources in your congregation.

Cost:

  • This class has a registration fee of $39.00 USD per person.
  • Payable on-line via PayPal OR Credit Card via the order button below.
  • I will not see payment information.
  • You’ll receive a reminder emails with the access codes as time grows closer.
  • You’ll receive your receipt by email which should contain the entrance link that will be unique to you.

Order Now:

Click on the big button below and you’ll be taken to the page in the EvangelismCoach.org store to add it to your cart.

OrderNow

Who is Chris Walker?

Evangelism Trainer Chris WalkerChris has given Evangelism Training seminars around the US and 9 Countries in Latin America. He is fittingly known as the Evangelism Coach because of his extensive work with churches in the US and Latin America in the areas of evangelism and church growth. Chris is an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA).

His website has over 1000 articles on personal evangelism, congregational evangelism, and hospitality, as well as a podcast feed, all for free.

Ready for Results?

  • Practical. Based on my life experiences teaching evangelism and church hospitality on two continents and in two languages.
  • Biblical – No compromising of Scripture to get butts on benches here.
  • Personal – You’ll work with me to plan and  apply lessons to fit the personality of your church.
  • Affordable – A fraction of the cost of taking your ministry team to a conference or me to speak in person for a few days.
  • Step-by-Step Help. – You get some great ideas and focus to apply right away.
  • Gospel-Centered – It’s all about Jesus, proclaiming the glorious good and making disciples.

Frequent Webinar Questions

Q. What if I’ve been leading the hospitality ministry for a few years?
You may find that this class will spur some creativity or give you different angle to look at things.

I won’t simply say “be nice to people” or “tell your greeters to say this phrase”  but teach hospitality leaders how to identify shortcomings in their own context and think through ways to fix them.

The get started steps will focus on helping provide a framework for action over the next six months or so.

Questions before the live class?

Q.  What happens if I register and then miss the class?

You’ll be given access to the replay, typically within 24-48 hours of the webinar.

Q.  What if the audio is really awful?

Sometimes, there are problems with bandwidth.  If the audio is really awful, I will re-record the webinar in a studio and make the re-recording available for replay.  I did that with the last church greeter training webinar.

Audio quality can vary based on your audio software/hardware manufacturer as well as your operating system. When using VoIP, the following best practices are recommended:

  • For optimum sound quality, a headset is recommended, preferably a USB headset for ease of use.
  • If a headset is not available, a microphone and speakers are required, preferably a USB microphone for ease of use.
  • If using a microphone, it should be a distance of at least 1.5 feet away from any speakers that are built into or connected to your PC.
  • The use of a Webcam microphone is not recommended.
  • The use of a integrated laptop microphone with laptop speakers is not recommended.
  • Ear buds or earphones and use of the integrated laptop microphone is a workable solution.

Q.  Will I hear pitches for products and services?

You will not hear me sell anything during the webinar.    There is nothing more to buy.  You are buying access to a class and the registration fee helps me cover the cost of the technology.

Q.  Why do I need to pay the fee?

People value what they pay for.  I want people who are motivated to learn and will apply what they learn.  Free webinars are great when I am selling a product or service, where I can recoup the cost the webinar.

What others have said about Chris Walker’s Teaching

  • -Inspirational, re-awakening.
  • Do not be afraid! Evangelism is not scary – or need not be. It can be a friendly conversation.
  • “Attend one. ” You will no longer fear, ridicule or avoid evangelism.
  • More people really want to know Jesus and how to help others reach Him.
  • Good. Well worth it.
  • The seminar was awesome.
  • You will lose your misconceptions about evangelism.
  • Go with an open heart and mind and you will leave fulfilled.
  • You’ll learn to listen better.
  • An inspiring motivational speaker with a message for all.
  • Just do it – You will find that the skills are within, this encourages you to put them to use.
  • The seminar helps you feel more comfortable about evangelism.
  • Tools to share one’s faith with others to help them.
  • Your Church Hospitality Webinar Inspired Creativity

Order Now:

Click the big button and you’ll be taken to EvangelismCoach Sore to process your payment and receive instant access to the recording.

OrderNow

Do you have other questions?

Please use the form below to ask me other questions that you may have.  I’ll reply as well in the comment field.