Church hospitality is evangelism. Welcome ministry has a supporting role in the work of making disciples, but it is not evangelism.
Does your church hospitality committee call itself something like:
- Evangelism Committee
- Evangelism and Outreach Committee
- Witness Committee?
Church Hospitality Job Descriptions I’ve seen
I’ve encountered several church hospitality committees with similar descriptions like this:
(Evangelism) Ministry Team is responsible for greeting visitors to our church.
Visitors receive a visit from a member of our congregation who brings them cookies, a church brochure, a newsletter, and a pen. They also receive a letter from the pastor thanking them for coming and asking if they would like a more formal visit from the Pastor and a lay person.
It is a group of men and women called to use their gift of hospitality to welcome visitors and members one Sunday morning each month.
We organize a post service lunch to help visitors feel welcome, and need team workers to organize, serve, and clean the tables.
Hospitality Ministry is not Evangelism
Evangelism, defined as I use it here, is focused on the verbal proclamation of the message of the cross.
Hospitality ministry is focused on the experience of the first time visitor, repeat visitors, and members who attend your church.
Evangelism deals with themes of:
- Personal faith in Christ as Savior and Lord
- Active service in the Kingdom of God
Church Hospitality deals with themes of:
Evangelism ministry and hospitality ministry are not the same, so stop calling it that!
Hospitality ministry serves the evangelistic purpose of the church
Part of my work as church hospitality coach allows me to be a first time visitor in churches.
I’ve also listened to many people who make visits to churches as the first time visitor.
I read the last page of Outreach Magazine, which is a short interview with a first time church visitor.
One thing has consistently risen to the surface.
The ability of a first time visitor to connect to the worship service was directly impacted by the warmth of the welcome experienced.
- When no one says hello, the perceived coldness hinders your ability to remember what the sermon was about.
- When people stare at you for not dressing right, you want to hide, but feel trapped.
In both examples, the ability of the first time hearer to interact with the sermon (the central part of most worship experiences) is hindered.
However, when a guest experiences:
- a warm welcome,
- a safe place for their children
- ease of finding their seat in the sanctuary
- a chance to make friends at a coffee hour
- a personal invitation to Sunday school
- a greater openness to listen to the sermon
- an ability to engage and comprehend the sermon
- an openness to relax and participate in the signing
- a distraction free environment to enjoy the entire worship service.
There is a greater likelihood (from a human point of view) of greater connection to the local church during that stage of their spiritual journey.
A warm welcome is thus part of the pre-evangelism work necessary in a church’s mission to help people find faith in Christ.
Hospitality ministry helps with the evangelistic work of the church because it encourages a return visit.
Next steps I can help with
Do you want help developing your church hospitality? In the EvangelismCoach.org store, I have several products for immediate download or on DVD that you might find helpful:
- How to Welcome Church Visitors (ebook)
- Church Greeters 101 in Paperback or Kindle
- Cast the Vision for Hospitality (Download MP3)
- Church Hospitality Review (Download MP3)
- Break the Barriers DVD set (4 DVD set aimed at helping you identify and remove barriers).
Another service that I offer church hospitality is some personalized coaching.
Usually, I spend time on the phone with your committee, up to 90 minutes, where I help you trouble shoot and develop some action plans. Read more about the welcome ministry coaching call here.