Here is one of my favorite church hospitality questions:
Our hospitality ministry is SOOOOO lacking.
What can we do to fix it?
Based on some descriptions that readers like you tell me, I frequently run into these adjectives.
- Lack of Passion.
- Not organized well.
- Whatever happens, happens.
- People and ministry fall through the cracks.
- Visitors don’t return after the first or second visit.
Those would be some adjectives describing a disorganized hospitality ministry.
But evidence of a disorganized welcome ministry will also show in volunteer attitudes:
- showing up late
- little eye contact
- lack of warmth
- no substitution for no shows
- church ushers feel like “bucket pushers” or “bulletin pushers”
- Doing a Duty versus ministry
How do you restart a hospitality ministry that feels this way?
I was talking with an unchurched friend last week about hospitality ministry.
He tells me that churches should be welcoming. It should be that way.
But he has not experienced a great welcome in recent years.
He is not a regular church goer, but even he knows that churches need to be friendlier.
It’s my prayer that when he responds to my invitation to come to my church, that our hospitality team would bless him and help him feel welcome.
What are some steps you can take to restart a failing welcome ministry for your church visitors? Read below for tips
1. Describe your vision of a functioning hospitality ministry.
What would a fully functioning church hospitality and welcome ministry look like if it was running 100%?
Describe it as clear as possible.
What are the words that you would use if we were in a coaching call and you were telling me what a beautiful hospitality ministry would look like at your church?
2. Cast your vision.
Cast your vision for hospitality ministry.
If you can enlist your pastor to help you with the occasional plug from the front, you’ll be informing those folks in your church who ONLY listen to the person up front.
You can cast your vision in a refresher meeting or training meeting.
You can cast your vision as you recruit new people 1-1 and they hear your passion.
Hearing someone else be excited about this ministry can begin to bring new life into the situation.
3. Review your systems.
Take the time to review your church hospitality systems.
The ebook I sell on this website can be one way to review your systems, or take the time to do your own hospitality audit. There are others available from Amazon that could help.
Be sure to review the volunteers and process around your
- Greeter Ministry
- Welcome Center
- Post service reception
- Visitor Contact information
4. Provide some guidance
You’ll need to gather your ministry volunteers at some point and provide some training.
Reset your expectations.
Paint a picture of what you dream they would do.
Help them brainstorm what the ideal welcoming process would look like and let their creative minds help shape the process.
If you need some help getting started, consider a hospitality coaching call with me. I’ll help you think through the process.
Download Tools under $15 to help you
Each one of these tools can help you with training. Click on their links to learn more.
- Church Greeters 101 – an ebook aimed at helping you recruit and organize your greeter ministry.
- Create a Culture of Church Hospitality – audio download that includes 14 ways to cast vision.
- Evaluate your Church hospitality – audio download on reviewing your systems
Chris, The best thing we have done is establish a quality food table in the rear of our sanctuary. People naturally gather around and visit newcomers. I tell folks, “We could get along without a sermon, but not without our fellowship table!”
I’ve been on both sides of the hospitality question, the greeter and the greeted. It is very difficult to size up immediately what might be a “hot button” from visitors and of course, there are probably different hot buttons for a couple. When speaking with a couple, including both of them in the items discussed is vital, not leaving one of them out. If they have children, their hot button is probably there. Probably the best thing to do (after getting their names) is to simply ask THEM what brought them to your church today and then LISTEN as they tell you about themselves, their concerns, their needs. At the end, you can then give them the take home gifts and brochures but point out or mention specific ministries that meet their concerns and interests. It’s important to mention prayer ministries and Bible study classes to help with spiritual growth because ultimately, people come where they can be in God’s house and not just for programs. As for follow-up, a letter from the pastor, a visit to the house by a visitation team, add them to the church prayer list and newsletter mailing list for a couple of months. I my opinion, I think it’s important to have a cut-off time when follow-ups stop. I’m still getting a monthly newsletter from a church I visited a few times a year and half ago; I’ve found a church home now. Perhaps a phone call to me would quickly answer the question whether I should stay on their mailing list…?
I have to agree with the first writer’s remark about the food table. Having a fellowship time with light refreshments and beverages, in a conveniently located spot near the sanctuary is really a must. People will linger longer and talk with more people with this asset.
Don’t look for people to fill hospitality positions. Instead look for people who ARE filling hospitality positions, i.e. those who are gifted and can’t help but to be hospitable. Don’t organize hospitality duties positions and responsibilities. Instead organized positions according to the talents and passion of those available. There will be someone in that pool of people with the gift of hospitality that is a little more organized and can provide the organizational structure. If the organizational is not in the midst, then look for a person who has organizational gifting and who has some hospitality gifting. When people are called in formally to fill positions, make it short term commitments, e.g. this school year, until Christmas, for the summer, for one year, etc.
What I am speaking of are natural gifting. When people are called in formally to fill positions, it is time to invoke the presence of the Holy Spirit on them, to empower them to do the work, not solely out of their natural gifting, but empowered by the Holy Spirit.
At this point, let the training and fine tuning begin.
I really appreciate your insight as to utilizing the gifting that is evident, and then tying it in to the empowering work of the Holy Spirit.
Mark and Lorena: Thanks also for your input. You’ve got valuable insight to add.
I’ve been away for about a week on a teaching mission in Nicaragua and just now back.
At the moment our Usher/Greeter ministry is in a “pit stop” so to speak, to evaluate, define our vision, and restructure. The race hasn’t stopped, because we are committed to the Great Commission and want to see things done “decently and in order”. I urge any ministry that is building, growing or just starting out to create a Vision Statement for each ministry under the umbrella of their particular churches vision statement. With lack of vision…things perish.
I agree with Pat Cook’s advice. We should be like the apostles. “Act 6:3 Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business”
One downside to each ministry defining its vision is a fragmentation of the churches vision. Imagine 10 ministries, each with a vision statement. That could easily lead to the watering down of the main vision.
Instead, I would wonder how the vision of your hospitality ministry is in alignment with the vision of your church. If your vision uses verbs like (Connect, Grow, Serve), then how does your greeter ministry vision fit those verbs?
Thank you Chris and I appreciate your response and understand your concern. But if each ministry has not a vision on how they support the main vision, how can they effectively teach and lead those under them. How do they see themselves being effective to the main vision. Actually our whole church is in a “pit stop” and we are evaluating the effectiveness and or necessity of all ministries within the church. To promote and build passion within the usher/greeters I was asked to write a vision statement by the pastor, including a 10-15 year plan (still in the planning stage) for what I expect to see growth wise in that ministry. The mission statement I submitted shows the commitment of the ushers and greeters to the churches vision and our support role to see things done decently and in order. All of this is under the direction of the pastor.
Certainly, there is a place for each ministry to have its vision.
The risk that one runs, however, is that 17 ministries have 17 different vision statements, mission statements, and strategy statements, all of which use different vocabulary, and possibly different directions and underlying philosophies, than the vision statement of the church.
This leads to a confusion and dilution of vision. I believe I’d hear at least 10 different versions of a vision, indicating a potential lack of focus. (I speak from some experience in a few churches).
Any ministry vision statements need to be focused (and verbally connected to) the particular vision of the local church.
A question to noodle on (that I would raise if we talked by phone) – how does the hospitality ministry support the primary vision of the church?
my ministry pls prayar