Once again, my family got to be the first time church visitors this past weekend.
We chose a church that had 3 Sunday services, and an approximate weekend attendance of 1500 people.
They have much of the hospitality systems in place, but it may be time for a hospitality training refresher for their volunteers.
This little detail fell through the cracks, and occasional hospitality training sessions with your church greeter volunteers will help keep these at a minimum.
I don’t write to complain, but to draw attention to the need to fix the inertia that causes little cracks like this to appear, even when hospitality systems are running at full speed.
The crack we fell in
We learned from the website that there was a special group for incoming 6th graders during the 11am service.
Our daughter decided she wanted to try out that group.
As we approached the parking lot, their attendants quickly waved us to a spot. Parking was easy and quick. For a church with 500 at a service, parking greeters really helped facilitate any easy experience.
After parking, we approached the entry door, where a church greeter volunteer joyfully passed out the morning bulletin.
1. We asked the greeter about the 6th grade ministry.
The greeter had not ever heard of such a ministry of the church. The look of confusion came over her face. We had made her feel uncomfortable.
Have you ever had that awkward experience of being asked a question you discovered you didn’t know the answer to, and then felt embarrassed you didn’t know the answer? That’s what happened.
As she tried to recover, she told us to ask at the Children’s Ministry registration desk “inside.”
2. We looked for the Registration desk.
Once inside, we looked for a sign that said Children’s Ministry registration desk. We found a long line to a desk that said “Welcome Center.”
The line wrapped around one corner, around a second corner, and then down the hall!!! It was a line as long to wait for Disney ride.
We didn’t think that was the right line to find out about the ministry to 6th graders.
3. We found another approachable volunteer.
A little confused between the “Welcome Center Sign” and the long line, we sought out a person wearing a church branded polo shirt.
It said [Church Name] Security so we figured he would know. He was approachable and listened intently to us, the lost tourist.
He too didn’t know where the 6th grade class was.
But, he took the initiative to go find an answer for us.
Leaving us standing there, he went off to ask some other church member where our daughter’s class would be, and he came back with directions.
“It’s in the other building,” he said, pointing in the general direction. “Go find the signs and the open doors.”
4. We went looking for signs.
Exiting the air conditioned building back out into the hot summer sun, we walked through the parking lot to the building next door.
We were on a quest for signs and open door. After all, the friendly man in the grey shirt said we’d see them.
We walked from one end of the building to the other.
We even pulled on a few doors, since we didn’t see an open one.
5. Dejected, we returned to the main building.
We were not outside in the heat for long, but long enough to have sweat on our foreheads.
We felt somewhat incompetent that we couldn’t find the right building next door, the signs, or the open doors
On our way back to the main building, I stopped another man in a grey shirt, branded with the church logo.
He was our third volunteer, and like the others, he was very approachable.
We explained our quest for the 6th grade class. We mentioned our being lost on the campus trying to find the open door and the signs.
He apologized for the miscommunication and personally escorted us to the leader of the sixth grade ministry who was in the darkened sanctuary while the worship song set was happening.
We had to talk really loud, over the music, about how to let my daughter attend the 6th grade class. It felt awkward trying to have a private conversation in a darkened amphitheater while the music blares.
What shouldn’t have been and how to fix it
My daughter finally found her group.
In the process, we had been through
- 3 volunteers,
- 4 climate changes, and
- lost about 15 minutes of the worship experience.
Your first time visitors should not have to work that hard to find a class.
That is the kind of first impression that can keep a visitor from returning to your church.
While all the other aspects of their hospitality were top notch, this detail revealed a weakness that could be remedied pretty easily.
How could this be fixed?
1. Help your volunteers know about all the ministries.
Find ways to help your volunteers know about all the ministries surrounding the main worship services.
All your volunteers should know where the nursery is, where the children’s ministries are, even where the restrooms are.
They should also know who is the point person for questions they can’t answer, rather than misdirect us towards another confusing situation.
You could develop a “Frequently Asked Questions” guide that every volunteer gets upon their orientation at their first hospitality training or vision meeting.
You could reference it in the reminder email when you remind them of their service commitment that weekend.
2. Regularly review your hospitality experience.
Wise church leaders will do some advance preparation related to hospitality in expectation of new church visitors. A regular review of your systems is a good way to make sure things flow smoothly. You know that Inertia and inefficiency always creep in.
Whether you are the
- Senior Pastor
- Head of the Church Greeter / Church Ushers.
- Leader of your church hospitality ministry
- Chair of the committee that oversees your church welcome ministry.
Your systems and processes are 1 of at least 4 Variables in Church Hospitality.
Wise hospitality ministry leaders will
- Review their facility navigation
- Review their current facility appearance.
- Review their church visitor follow-up process.
- Review their status of current hospitality ministries
- Review their current church greeter process / volunteers
- Review their process to how they get church visitor contact information.
Do a hospitality audit (Free download here).
Listen to this MP3 from the store.
Or Get your hospitality evaluated for the price of a cup of coffee.
3. Provide a hospitality training for all your volunteers
You can prepare your hospitality and greeting team with some fresh vision for the fall, Christmas, or the launch of a new sermons series that you are planning after Easter.
If you are planning your preaching calendar and outreach calendar, you’ll always find a good time to gather your volunteers for a vision refreshing meeting as they prepare for that new wave of church visitors.
You can invite me as a virtual presenter at
- your scheduled training meeting,
- or we could set a date that works for your team.
In this 90 minute online teleclass with just your team, you can equip your team on:
- How welcoming guests helps your church fulfill or fail the great commission.
- 8 characteristics to know about your guests BEFORE they arrive so you can serve them well.
- No manuals necessary – how to have awesome hospitality ministry in unforeseen moments.
- 8 necessary traits of a church hospitality volunteer who blesses your guests.
This on-line class is specifically for
- Greeters who need a refresher.
- First time Greeters who will be starting.
- Hospitality ministry leaders who want to cast a fresh vision for their team.
- Pastors leading hospitality and welcome ministries who want an “outsider” to share.
- Welcome ministry leaders who want to provide a training point for their ministry teams.
There will be opportunity for Questions and Answers.
You don’t need me to give you a class. You could do your own.
But if you want me as the outsider, Read more about it here.
Are there small slip-ups in your hospitality systems?
Plan on doing a small hospitality training review with your volunteers.
Set a date in the next three months to get it done.
photo credit: apasciuto via cc
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