This was submitted by one of our readers and permission granted to be distributed by EvangelismCoach.org. The writer wishes to remain anonymous. Some slight editing for on-line reading have been made.
The writer gave this as part of their Hospitality training to their welcoming ministries team in a mid-size congregation, so some may be worded for their context. They have chosen to use the word guest for their church visitors.
H is for HOST
The word hospitality is defined as the relationship process between a guest and a host.
Christian hospitality flows out of our relationship with God, who has graciously shared His riches with us, resulting in our salvation and adoption into His family.
God is the host, and we experience His gracious hospitality. As recipients of God’s hospitality, we also must act as hosts as we welcome the stranger among us. (See Luke 24)
O is for OPPORTUNITY
Although it is much easier for some people than for others, we all possess some type of spiritual gift towards hospitality to others.
We need to see this as our opportunity to serve others as Christ has served us.
Romans 15:7 says, “Welcome one another therefore just as Christ has welcomed you for the glory of God.”
Through hospitality, we have the opportunity to imitate God’s welcome.
S is for SENSITIVITY
In order for us to effectively serve as ministers of welcome, it is important for us to understand the mind of the typical guest to church.
Most want to be welcomed, observe our church worship services, and be provided an easy opening if they choose to come again.
Most of all, they do NOT want to be pressured.
We have to be sensitive to these characteristics of the guest.
Think of a time when you, yourself, were a first-time guest in a strange place… where everyone seemed to know everyone else, except you! How did you feel? Were you uncomfortable? Self-conscious? Nervous?
Leviticus 19:33-34 commands Israel to welcome strangers because of their experience in Egypt. “When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” They were not to oppress the alien because they knew how it felt when they were in Egypt.
P is for PREPARATION
We need to be sensitive to the guests needs, and must prepare ourselves for company to come.
We need to know how to identify a guest.
The most obvious way for us to figure out if someone is a guest is if we do not recognize the person or persons. But, if we don’t feel like we know all that many people who attend our church, here are a few tips on how to tell if they are newcomers:
First time guests usually arrive early. Many of them do not take the initiative to introduce themselves when in a new place. They typically stand back and observe the space and the people in that space.
For example, if a greeter sees someone walk into the [our fellowship hall], then stop to look around and read signs…the person is most likely visiting for the first time. They usually prefer to “size-up” the church before they are recognized as a visitor…if they want to be recognized at all! So, it is important not to bombard them with too much welcoming!
Some guests are obvious – standing around, reading brochures that they pick up off of the desk, and are generally being overlooked. When they are sitting in the worship area, they often have their head down reading the bulletin.
They are often those people that we forget to extend a welcoming hand to, particularly those “invisible people” who are quieter and less conspicuous. They may differ from others in the congregation in what they wear, their skin color, or their language.
I is for INTEREST
The next thing needed in order to prepare ourselves for company coming is how to approach the guest. The main thing to understand about this is the importance of showing genuine interest in the individual (s).
When someone comes into your parking lots, buildings, or worship areas, you should approach them by saying something like, “We’re glad to have you here today! I don’t know if we’ve met. My name is …………………”
You should avoid saying, “Is this your first time at our church?”, because you might embarrass yourself or offend someone who is a regular attendee.
It is important to point out that visitors have a way of sensing if someone is genuinely interested in them or not. If phoniness or indifference is at all present in the encounter that they have with people at our church, they can usually sense it.
The first few seconds will shape their impression of the congregation. They can usually tell immediately if the church is a place of welcome, acceptance, and friendship or not.
T is for Team Effort
Being ministers of welcome is a team effort! Although welcoming guests to church SHOULD be the job of the entire congregation, we can’t assume that everyone will always seek out guests and make the effort to welcome them.
From the second someone drives into your parking lots until they get back into their automobiles to leave, you need to have a team of people whose sole purpose is being welcoming to all who come. And it takes many people to accomplish this, because one person can only be stationed at one place at a time!
A is for Acceptance
The next point I would like to make is the importance of being accepting of guests just AS they are and WHERE they are in their faith journey. No matter how they are dressed, how they smell, or how they talk…..they should be seen as God’s honored guests. They may, in fact, be sent directly by God.
Hebrews 13:2 says, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” Angels are all around us and we never know when we will be entertaining one.
L is for LOVE
We should show Christian hospitality in all situations with genuine acceptance and love. We need to do our best to love the outsiders, to love those who have lost their way in life and remember that when we receive them with hospitality we’re doing it to Jesus.
I is for INFORM and INTRODUCE
Part of helping people to feel accepted and welcomed is by helping them to connect both by informing and introducing.
So, we all need to be familiar with things such as where our rest rooms are located and where other key areas, like nurseries and children’s Sunday school classes, are located so that we can inform our guests.
We can also introduce them to regular attendees who are close by who might be able to answer any questions that we may not have the answer to.
So that you don’t have to leave your post, introducing guests to friendly regulars could be an opportunity for the guest to meet people and have someone to sit with during worship.
T is for TIMELINESS
In order to make certain that as many guests as possible are warmly welcomed, it is important for us to all be timely to begin our various duties.
We don’t want to miss a single opportunity to meet someone in the parking lot, the fellowship area, or the worship area that may be searching for help in life and hoping that someone will care about them.
We don’t want to miss a chance to reach out to people who need the hope of Jesus in a world where few people really seem to care about them.
Y is for Yahweh
Hospitality stands at the center of biblical faith and can’t be taken lightly, because it’s how God treats every one of us.
We find in scripture, from Genesis where God provides a garden right through to Revelation where God provides a new heaven and new earth.
It’s a theme that is repeated over and over. It helps us to understand God’s will for us. In Psalm 23, the psalmist tells us that in Yahweh’s tent we find protection and a gracious welcome.
This is divine hospitality, of God actually making space for us. It’s not temporary but for eternity. Even in the face of all that might be against us, Yahweh still provides a safe place for us.
Do want a discuss how to break through where you are stuck in Greeter Ministry?
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.