A church greeter I never met invaded my personal space.
An apathetic church greeter gave me a bulletin while talking to a friend.
A church greeter wore so much cologne that my eyes watered when standing in his presence. [Read more…]
I’ve never attended a major golf championship until last week’s Honda Classic
I was a first time guest in an environment I had never visited.
We were invited guests of a golf fanatic who secured 2 tickets for our family (plus tickets for the 2 reluctant kids were free).
I do play golf (about 1 time a year), so I am familiar with some of the rules and behavior expectations as a member of the crowd.
I’m not an avid follower of golf, so all those names on the board behind us are unknown to us.
But we couldn’t help feeling a little out of place.
We made our way to the first hole, and watched 3 professional golfers tee off.
We followed them along the well marked way toward the green and watched them finish the whole.
Those players were unknown to us, although one of those men won the $6 million check at the end of Sunday’s sudden death hole.
We stayed there awaiting the next group and the next, when a mass of people an photographers started moving in. Tiger Woods was approaching. At least I knew that name.
Once Woods finished the hole, the mass of people and photographers moved on.
We lucked out I guess. We were in the presence of golf greatness.
I enjoyed my visit and would love to do it again sometime.
As I rode the shuttle bus back to the car (parked nearly 5 miles away in a park), I found myself thinking about the entire hospitality experience I had at the Honda Classic.
The magnitude of the Honda Classic will never be reached in a local church. The logistics were on such a massive scale that a local church will never achieve. But there were some key points that you can apply in your local church.
1. They prepared in advance for guests.
Advance preparation was evident. It had to be well planned out.
For record setting 193,052 guests who attended, logistics had to be thought out. Volunteers had to be organized. Materials needed to be in place. Vendor booths needed to be setup. Food, media cameras, security, parking, all had to be organized.
You may not get 193,052 guests coming to your church, but you can prepare for the 10-100 who will visit you this weekend with intentional focus on preparing your welcome.
2. Strategic Signage
The Honda Classic made great efforts in navigational signage. From signs that guided us to parking, where to get the shuttle bus, where to enter, where to go, all signage was clear.
I did not have to ask a volunteer for directions. As we walked around the campus to watch golfers, to eat lunch, and to use the facilities, all were clearly marked.
Signage made it easy for us to get where we needed to go. Take your own signage audit to make sure your visitors can find the important rooms in your church.
3. It stayed clean.
Confirmed guests of 193,052, plus media, players, volunteers mean a lot of trash. Food tents, food carts all had their own trash from their kitchen work. The tents with vendors all had leaflet giveaways and lots of marketing materials, much of which would find its way to a trash can at some point.
I was impressed at how clean the grounds of the Honda Classic remained. Trash receptacles were everywhere. I saw volunteers picking up anything that missed. I saw volunteers keep changing out full bags. I never saw an overflowing trash can.
At the food stand we ate at, the condiment counter could have gotten all trashed with mustard, relish spills, honey mustard sauce, mayonnaise spills and more. But I saw the volunteer keep that area clean.
If someone left their food trash on a picnic table, it was cleaned up quickly by volunteers.
The volunteer base had a strong ethic in keeping the appearance neat. I noticed that even the glass doors we used didn’t have hand smudges on them. Someone had to stay on top of that.
How well does your church do at keeping it’s facility clean? How well do your members take pride in picking up any trash that is not theirs to make sure their campus stays clean?
4. Volunteers who took pride in their work.
Mobilizing volunteers is a challenge for every organization. On this scale, it took an amazing leader to cast that vision for great customer service ethic I saw in the volunteers at the Honda Classic.
Men and women took their role seriously. They took pride in their work. They looked after their guests.
One thing I frequently hear from leaders of hospitality ministries is dispassionate volunteers. Part of your role as the ministry leader is to refresh that vision for hospitality so that your volunteers will take pride in their service.
5. The whole experience was easy to enjoy.
As a first time visitor to the Honda Classic, I could have easily been overwhelmed by the newness of it all.
But their advance preparation and work ethic of their volunteers made the experience of the Honda Classic extremely enjoyable.
Even though I was out of place in the midst of thousands of golf lovers who knew what they were watching, I still enjoyed my experience.
This is what you want your first time visitor to feel when they leave your church after their first time visit.
You don’t have to entertain them like a Disney show, nor do you have to impress them with technology. But you do need to make sure their experience of your church service leaves them with a enjoyable impression.
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 can help you review your systems through a step by step flow chart that I’ve developed. Read more about that hospitality coaching here.
During a recent church visitor assimilation webinar (available now for purchase), we discussed some excellent resources on the assimilation process. One participant recommended a short book on hospitality ministry that was helpful to them.
See You Next Week is a short text crammed full of ideas that could help your church get started in improving the welcome and integration process in your church. If you haven’t read any books on this topic, this book might fit what you are looking for. It can help your congregation develop it’s friendliness.
I’ve read several books on church hospitality. I’ve written two myself. This particular book would be aimed at the church that doesn’t have an existing hospitality committee or advocate who wants to run the ministry and needs someone to start taking charge.
See You Next Week would be a good primer and overview of the church welcome and hospitality process.
If you have already read some of the related books in this field, you won’t learn anything new. However, See You Next Week would help you refresh your interest. The ending section on 11 principles for your volunteers would serve any ministry leader well as a resource for their volunteer training.
In either case, you can find short and quick tips that you would need to polish your existing hospitality and welcome ministry, and quick reminders for your volunteers.
The book is not about evangelism, or even how to share the gospel along the way. The authors know that is an important topic, but it is outside of the scope of their focus on creating a good welcome and developing your ministry of assimilation.
This book is all about integrating that newcomer into the church family as quickly as possible. This is not a book on evangelism. It is not a book on advertising. It is not a book on church programming. It is a book that focuses attention on that narrow range of activity that should help the newcomer on their way into your church community. On their part it might start with a tentative, “We should try that place out sometime.” But we want it to end with an assured, “This place is my new home!”
See You Next Week is laid out as short two page chapters, followed by a QR code and weblink to more in depth information.
The authors move through
Here is what you need to know about the flow of the book. We start together with clearing up some of the basic facts about the subject and the need to integrate newcomers. Then we move on to the attitudinal, mechanical, logistical and general organizational elements to consider. Finally, we give some practical advice for every committed church participant
I presume the promised online resources are still in development. The preface promised additional resources via the links. I sampled a random few and didn’t find the additional resources hinted at in the preface. Mostly, I found a page that has the text of the chapter, the audio reading of the chapter, and occasionally resource paper or additional resources. Maybe more resources are coming as the product development continues.
The book is admittedly not about evangelism, or even about how to help people find faith in Christ. The target is to help your church members be intentional in helping newcomers feel like becoming part of the local church family. The writers say right off the bat:
“This is a book about one small slice of church life and therefore doesn’t deal with the diversity of the multiple elements that matter.”
It is full of practical tips on conversational small talk, how to relate to new comers, and various principles that volunteers should keep in mind when serving on a church’s hospitality or greeter ministry. They look at attitude, some mechanics, and some organizational elements of welcome and hospitality.
The value I found in See You Next Week was the 11 resolutions for hospitality volunteers. These are directed at the volunteers, and you as a ministry leader could use them in your volunteer training.
Most of the books I’ve read in this field talk a lot about the mechanics of hospitality, but this set of 11 principles was written specifically for the volunteer. It gives you specific ways you can live out a warm welcome from the relational side.
If you want to add a copy to your library, order yours here. If you do, I’ll get a few nickels.
Or check out my own ebook that is available to download here. A purchase of my ebook will also reward you with a free consulting conversation with me about your hospitality ministry, plus information on the best way to get visitor contact information.
I would love for you to have success in church greeter recruiting and for you to have more volunteers for church greeters ministry than spaces you could fill.
However, I’m not sure there are churches where people fight to be volunteer church greeters.
If you find yourself struggling to recruit volunteers for your greeting ministry, here are 3 barriers you might face, followed by 4 ways to overcome those barriers. [Read more…]
Here is a common email I receive (composed from various ones):
I’m having a hard time finding volunteers who believe in the ministry of hospitality. They think everyone should be doing this automatically.
Our church doesn’t have enough people who are interested in being greeters. We can’t get any volunteers. .
We’ve not ever organized our hospitality ministry before, but want to so do now so that our church will grow.
How do I find volunteers for the hospitality ministry?
Any ideas? We are praying for God to touch people’s heart with the desire to serve.
If you are the leader of your church’s hospitality committee, this is a question on your mind.
You have come to the realization that your church needs to do a better job of greeting and welcoming first time visitors.
But you have a hard time getting volunteers and you run into these three attitudes:
People neglect the intentionalness of the hospitality ministry because it’s everyone’s responsibility.
You encounter resistance because they believe it’s the role of everyone.
I’ve seen it in smaller churches that have never had a welcome ministry.
I’ve seen it in mid-size churches that used to have a welcome ministry, but it got neglected over time.
I’ve seen people hide behind this one too.
I’ve met people who seem to have few social skills and would rather do something else than say hello to strangers.
But, I’ve also met people who find visitors to be a nuisance:
So they give a cold shoulder instead of a warm welcome, and hide behind “It’s not my gift.”
You may already have people doing some kind of welcome ministry.
But you know it’s a mediocre experience for the visitor.
You may have volunteers who have settled into their routine of handing out bulletins, but have no grace, charm, or love for the visitor – it’s their church job vs. a ministry.
They are resistant to improving the hospitality ministry because they believe “I know how to welcome people, I’ve been doing it here for 10 years.”
Where then do I start?
Part of your work as the hospitality ministry leader will be to change these attitudes.
Don’t let these attitudes deter you from improving your welcome process.
As you personally recruit your volunteers, you’ll have the chance to express how important this ministry is to the growth of your church.
Here are three ways to work at changing minds.
1. Regularly Cast the Vision for Hospitality Ministry.
There are many ways to cast that vision, but this is a process of time.
Find and share stories of the impact of hospitality ministry.
You should be a hunter of stories of people who experienced a great welcome in your church.
Celebrate it from the front, and celebrate them at moments like baptisms and membership Sundays.
2. Have a Vision Refresher Meeting.
Gather your volunteers for a vision refresher meeting.
Take some time to both recast the vision, and provide some training for your volunteers.
These meetings can also serve as an entry point for recruiting new volunteers to your hospitality ministry that you have been identifying.
3. Personally Recruit
If you want to recruit volunteers for this ministry of hospitality, make the effort to
Personal recruitment, particularly in smaller church is the most effective way to start getting new volunteers.
They need to see and hear your passion for this welcoming ministry.
What are some of the ways that you have gone about finding volunteers?
What are some of the ways you have overcome some of these attitudes?
Each one of these tools can help you with training. Click on their links to learn more.
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