‘Make every guest feel like a VIP’
Have you attended a church service and felt welcomed from the time you entered the parking lot until the time you left? If you answered yes, chances are you attended a worship service that has a strong church hospitality ministry.
The way you treat guests is a reflection of your practical theology.
It’s true. One of the Bible’s deepest values is hospitality, and so if your church is aiming to be Biblical… your church must value hospitality, too!
One of the most important calls that Christ gives His church is to be welcoming to people. We are His ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:20), so, Jesus uses us to be His welcoming arms to draw people from the outside into His presence! He is the Seeker; we are the ones He seeks, and sometimes we are the ones He uses to seek others. It is God’s desire that all of His children will be saved, and, yet, few will accept His grace. It is the role of the Holy Spirit to save people, and we are the instruments through which He works. So, we must be a church who welcomes not only Believers, but also those who may never before in their lives have been inside of a church.
Hospitality is a willingness to share, with discernment, what God has given us, including our family, home, finances, and food. It is an attitude of stewardship, where we do not own anything because we are merely the caretaker for the real owner, God. He desires that we share His stuff and His love, and we comply out of reverence and gratitude to Him. In relationships, it is honoring the boundaries of others, and sharing all we have without strings attached. In the church, it is to be welcoming, regardless of how we may feel.
This is what hospitality ministry is all about: laying out the “red-carpet” welcome to people in your church as a representative of your congregation. It’s one of the most enjoyable areas ministry that involves meeting new people, sharing personal warmth and joy inspired by God, and enjoying a fun experience together.
Hospitality ministry is serving God by welcoming and showing kindness to guests. Christ showed kindness to strangers and welcomed those who accepted the Him. It’s only natural that a church dedicated to spreading Christ’s message would do the same.
It is any direct and personal act of welcoming love, care or provision given by one Christian to guests or strangers, whether Christian or not.
Hospitality is not charity. Charity is most often indirect care, offered through intermediaries, to those in distress. Hospitality is direct and may be offered to anyone, affluent or poor.
The mission of the hospitality ministry is to provide a welcoming environment of love, acceptance, comfort, support, care, and unity for visitors, members, guests, and friends in order to enhance their worship experience, encourage fellowship, and help build a community of believers.
Hospitality is one of the most enjoyable types of church ministry, and it’s also a service that distinguishes average churches from ones that thrive as one of the best way to touch the hearts of visitors and converting them into members is through making them feel loved and appreciated.
In most Churches There is an umbrella body called Operations under which Hospitality, Catering, Security, Parking attendants and Traffic Controllers, Protocol, Ushering, Greeters and Sanctuary Keepers follow under. In others, Hospitality Department is the Umbrella that has Ushering, Greeters, Catering and Parking attendants. In Small congregations we have one department doing all these without much struggle and this is the best starting point for anyone who want to serve and learn.
The role of an usher/greeter/hospitality minister is that of an official host, someone whose presence, conversation and actions speak a welcome to all who come to a worship service. Welcoming can be traced back to the beginning of the Old Testament and hospitality has always been part of our Christian tradition.
Today, people have many options for church, including virtual church services. If first-time visitors don’t feel welcome, they might walk out and never return.
The church security, ushering and hospitality ministry is the first representation of the church that people come across.
The hospitality ministry serves to reflect the love of Christ through expressions of gratitude, excitement, and enthusiasm. Create a sense of belonging by making sure every visitor, member, and guest feels special and welcome in our church.
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. [Hebrews 13:2]
The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me. [Matthew 25:40]
Some of the sectors that also require hospitality spirit.
The Parking Lot Ministry
Having volunteers ensures the church parking lot is clean, safe, and congregants can get in and out quickly. They direct traffic and let people know when a lot is full and where to find additional parking.
For large campuses/congregation, the ministry has mobile carts to transport members to the building, if needed.
These people open the doors for members and welcome them to church. They also have teams in the lobby to answer questions and direct members into the sanctuary or other areas like the children nursery and visitors parlor.
Ushers sometimes do all umbrella duties. They are responsible for maintaining order during church services. They ensure everyone gets a church bulletin, envelope, communion elements and finds a seat. They also collect the offerings and maintain decorum.
The size of your congregation doesn’t matter. You need a church hospitality plan to improve. Every new visitor is a potential life member and the first encounter with the church matters a lot.
It’s easy to get involved in your church’s hospitality ministry program initially as a volunteer. I encourage we stop using this term ‘volunteer’ because it is a privilege and duty to serve in the house of God. There can never be enough parking lot attendants, greeters, ushers, and in general welcoming smiling faces.
The Food/Catering and Hospitality ministries are so much more than just feeding people.
Great hospitality isn’t a strategy; it’s part of a lifestyle. It is a culture that is started, embraced and developed.
It begins within the hearts of a few who have a gift of hospitality and catches like wildfire in everyone it touches.
The Ministry Of Hospitality, Or How To Minister With A Meal (Judges 19; Revelation 3:20)
1 Timothy 5:10
Has she been kind to strangers and served other believers humbly? Has she helped those who are in trouble? Has she always been ready to do good?
1 Peter 4:8
Love each other deeply because love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
Not every church needs multiple sub-ministries. As your church grows, the day will come when you must expand to accommodate a growing congregation.
Hospitality requires grace on the part of the one who extends hospitality, and it requires grace from the one who receives hospitality.
Hospitality ministry also entails the following: –
Welcoming new faces to, and reaffirming familiar faces at, a church service or event
Activities that instill a sense of belonging among visitors and members
Providing translation services to visitors or church members whose native language is not English
Activities that build community and fellowship within a church
It involves ambiance, service, products, people and amenities
Not only is hospitality ministry following in the example of Jesus; it’s also strategic. Providing an effective welcome to a church will help to keep membership numbers growing.
Anyone with a background in marketing or sales will acknowledge the biggest challenge is getting a customer in the door. A business that doesn’t heavily invest in the relatively easy part of converting a store visit into a satisfied customer is incompetent.
Not that churches are about business –in fact Jesus threw the money changers out of the temple– but the same principle applies. As Romans 16:16 states, “Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you.”
THE 4Cs of Effective Ministry
5 Main Components of an Effective Hospitality Ministry
5. Followed up.
The hospitality ministry committee members must meet the following biblical descriptions:
• You must not engage in adultery, give into drunkenness, or behave in violent manners.
• You must have self-control, be hospitable, respectable, and able to teach.
2 Timothy 2:15
• You must present yourself as an approved workman of God.
• You must be blameless, disciplined, love what is good, and holy!
OTHER QUALIFICATIONS OF HOSPITALITY AND CATERING DEPARTMENT MEMBERS
• Having skills in any of the related fields
If you’re an empathetic people-person who gets excited when you make a positive connection with your fellow human then you’re already well-suited to work in hospitality ministry. The job description for this field can include all of the following:
• Welcoming people from the time they enter the parking lot to the time they drive/walk away
• Supportive and accountable to Pastor and authority
• Engaging with new faces and inviting them to church social events
• Defining a church’s individual and unique culture, and promoting this
• Marketing the word of God, especially as it relates to the unique mission of a church
• Helping Ushers in Greeting people and making them feel welcome as they walk through the doors of your church
• Ushering people to their seats and ensuring a church service goes smoothly
• Working as part of security team to provide screening as necessary
• Culinary service – helping newcomers feel welcome through the provision of tasty treats, healthy snacks, and otherwise nourishing soul food
• Helping out-of-towners find an appropriate place to stay for the duration of their visit, along with kid-friendly activities
• Oversee the working of all hospitality programs and visitor care ministries
• Coordinate the activities that involve hospitality and care ministries
• Be alert to the needs of the church membership and ways to serve those needs
• Assist all areas of ministry requiring the use of the church kitchen (Setup, serve, clean up)
• Develop and maintain a written log of food quantities per number of people to develop a reasonable awareness of how much food is needed for functions
• Providing transportation for visitors in support of Protocol officers
• Decorating social event settings in support of sanctuary keepers
• Shopping for supplies for social events
• Planning social events such as meals, games, and other activities
GOOD VYBES FOR AN EFFECTIVE HOSPITALITY OFFICER
Break ice for guests for them to relax and feel at home
Personalize your service
Be proactively helpful
Be a good listener
Use the feedback you receive positively
Anticipate your guest’s needs
Give each guest an undivided attention.
Maintain a positive attitude
Respond quickly to all guest’s requests and questions
Solve problems quickly and turn complainers into advocates
Show regular extra love
Share information among key members of your service team
Capture as much information as possible
BEST PRACTICES IN CHURCH HOSPITALITY
Practice learning members’ names. The church should have a family feeling, so help new members and old feel like family members.
If someone asks for directions, escort them to their destination instead of pointing the way. Incorporate signage and a communications system to assist visitors new to the campus.
Always make visitors feel like family. Don’t tell them about God. Let them experience God.
Make an excellent first impression by making your members feel important and valued.
Make it easy for guests to get connected. If you attend a large church it is hard to know everyone. But regardless of the church size try encouraging those who have attended for a while to introduce themselves to someone they don’t know. Create a culture where welcoming newcomers is an expectation.
Utilize social media/online evangelism. If your church doesn’t have a website, social media platforms or it doesn’t provide information for guests, you are losing a major opportunity. The majority of people search for a church online before they attend it. To illustrate the value of a strong website presence, if you were to add one family per month because they found you by searching online, think about how you would impact evangelism. Being up front, starts with your community, but social media and your website play an important role as well. It should be attractive and easy for your members to share. Members who are excited about what God is doing in and through their church are eager to share.
Pay attention to your online service and guests too. Quickly respond, connect and recognize them. Make them feel part of the family.
Have a clear next step that you’re asking every guest to take. This might vary from church to church, but a great option is a Newcomer Event like “Coffee with the Pastor,” “Newcomer’s Lunch,” “Visitors connect with the Bishop.”
It’s difficult to get guests to move from a big room (weekend worship) to a small room (a class or group). Bridge the gap by inviting them to take a non-intimidating, non-commital next step. From there, use that event to assimilate newcomers into community life. The faster you can get a guest into a group, the more likely they are to stay for the long-haul.
Following up with your guests is crucial to your guests returning or not. The follow-up process begins with providing easy ways for guests to connect with your church during their first visit and continues for several weeks after.
Consider having an online equivalent for those who only attend online or were introduced to your church through services online. Host a special Zoom meeting for guests, but find a way to make it fun, quick, and engaging.
People will come to your church if they feel the members are actually excited about what God is doing in their church!
Church leaders should strive to create in churches a culture of responsiveness. When there’s a need, the church responds quickly. When there is a newcomer to your community, your church must embrace him swiftly.
We should be designing and implementing guest services ministries in our churches so that people experience God, even when they’re driving in our parking lots, because of the way our parking lot hero helped get them through a potentially stressful parking experience with ease.
Three principles help us create interactions and environments where guests are open to hearing the message in prayer, song, and sermon and want to come back again. The three principles of radical hospitality are:-
2. Offer personal attention
3. Provide excellent follow-through.
Always pay attention.
The churches with a true spirit of hospitality still catch and attract a lot of people. The moment you drive onto the parking lot, you not only see it, you feel it.
It might be a cheerful parking lot attendant who literally makes eye contact with you as he waves to greet you and welcomes you in. Or a greeter who walks with you, learns your name and genuinely tries to assist you with anything you might need.
That spirit of hospitality is contagious. It makes you want to jump in and help.
It’s authentically a joy for them, which makes it a joy for you, and you haven’t even been to the worship service yet. If you make one person happy you will be two happy people. If each one of us would make one person happy in each service we would be a happy congregation leading to a happy society.
That kind of hospitality is like a spirit in the air rather than training from a handbook.
From the moment you pull into the parking lot and throughout your experience, you feel noticed, cared for and like you matter.
Your task as a minister in this department is to help your guests feel and experience the love of God by truly welcoming them into God’s house through friendly and authentically gracious service.
Your guests often make their decision to return or not based simply on how they are treated and that is why we say in Ushering that you never have a second chance to make the first impression.
Depending on how big a church is it may have dedicated hospitality pastors. But even if it’s a smaller church with general pastors, as a church leader the pastor always plays a role in hospitality ministry. This could range from something as small as personally welcoming guests before or after a service to serving as a hospitality committee member.
Church hospitality, or guest services, should always aim to remove the guesswork for a guest visiting your church.
From the “streets to the seats” your team should be strategically equipped and placed to best assist your guests.
From your parking lot heroes, to the way you present announcements, your guests should feel that you were expecting them and that you seek to honor God by honoring them.
Intentionally creating environments and culture that is organized and authentic helps your guests feel you have been anticipating their arrival.
Your church’s hospitality ministry to your guests begins before your guests even visit your church.
Church hospitality, or guests services, cannot ever just be a few department members thing, it has to be a culture thing. When it becomes a fundamental part of your culture, your members, who are out in the community every day, are your hospitality ambassadors. Your community must know you’re there and that you’re an active participant.
For someone to feel comfortable at your church, he needs to make a connection, build a relationship, and feel welcomed. People need to feel that this church is their church. This is even more important than our teaching and doctrine (which is essential, too!). Have you ever wondered why the Mormons are growing and are so popular, even with a corrupt theological system? Because they know how to treat people! When you walk into a Mormon Temple, you are welcomed; you feel they care for you! You may overlook the illogical and false teachings because you are with family, people who love you and who are coming across as authentic. People need to feel validated, and they need a sense of belonging. The Church is to fill this role, but all too often, other things that are corrupt fill in that gap. That is why drug abuse is so rampant and why you see high end vehicles being towed on Sundays. People will find a place to belong; let us make them welcome in our church!
Most conservative evangelical and reformed Christians assume since we have good teaching, and the Holy Spirit is in our lives, we do not need to bother with care. This is contradictory to Scripture. A week does not go by that I do not talk with someone at different churches who tells me they attended worship services for weeks, months, even years, and nobody has ever talked to them! When this happens, we become the backdoor; people will leave our church because they never developed connections and relationships because people did not care or reach out to them! Some people are bold and friendly and make those connections naturally themselves, while others are more reserved and others need to go to them. Will you be the one to go out of your way to give a kind word and an invite? You are the person who is called to reach out. If you think, “Hey, I do not have the gift of hospitality!”-most of us do not; however, we are still called to do so. The people with the gift of hospitality will be better at it, and motivate the rest of us to do it.
Our skills of being friendly will make the difference in whether a person makes this church a one-time visit, or returns to become an active member (Proverbs 17:17a).
Understanding how people feel when they visit a church will help us have the compassion and sensitivity to relate to them and be a caring help in their spiritual journey. Remember how you felt. People may be fearful, closed off, overly excited, cautious, or frustrated. Our understanding and ability to listen and offer help will make the difference. Even if they never come back, or, if they make this church their home, our responsibility is to model Christ (1 Peter 4: 8-11).
Being involved in a church’s hospitality program often means having pleasant conversations with visitors and making them feel home away from home.
Remember, Your guests often make their decision to return or not based simply on how they are treated. Hospitality is less about doing the right thing and more about being the right person.
You can literally see a spirit of hospitality in the way someone opens a door for you. One is doing the right thing; the other does it in the right way.
One is a learned task, (open the door for new people), the other is pure joy and delight to serve.
The best hospitality is experienced when one human being engages another and the experience is lifted to a higher level because of the love and care given.
You have to develop the art of Receiving and Entertaining Guests in a way that makes them feel well taken care of.
Make every guest and member feel like a VIP.
Find publications on Best Church Ushering Techniques