Greetings from Soulfest! Last week we began a conversation about the importance of welcome and hospitality. When folks are newer to our church, the way in which we welcome them can make all the difference. We practice hospitality both formally and informally, officially and unofficially. Through our hospitality team, we officially welcome people through greeters, ushers, and other hospitality servants. But unofficially, we are all a part of the hospitality team.
In response to last week's blog, Judy H. shared this comment:
"I agree that it's important for us to greet newcomers warmly. For me though the issue is that I don't know who is new and who is not. Many people I recognize, but others I do not. The church is growing so rapidly it's impossible for me to keep track of who and who is not. Any ideas? "
That is a great question. It got me thinking that it might be helpful to offer a few specific ideas. Here are a few intentional ways every one of us can be a part of the hospitality team.
- Look for someone you don't know and introduce yourself. To answer Judy's question, don't worry about whether they are new or not as you address them. Try wording your greeting this way "I don't believe we've met. My name is Judy." If they are new to the church, they will often say so. Either way you have now met someone you didn't know.
- Look for people who are standing alone. It often happens that if a person or couple is visiting for the first time, they will grab a coffee and then hang out near the edge of the room. Did you know that simply being noticed and engaged in conversation can make someone feel cared for and valued? Try it! Be that person who loves others enough to dare to reach out. If one or two people engage them in conversation, it will make all the difference.
- As you are getting seated in the worship space, look at those immediately around you. This isn't necessarily the time for an extended conversation. But a hand shake and a quick "Good morning, great to have you with us" reinforces that welcome they hopefully received in the lobby.
- As you greet people, if you discover they are new, see if they need directions for anything. You might word it like this "This is your first week with us? Awesome. Welcome. Are you finding your way around OK? Is there anything you need?"
- If someone does need directions, walk with them. Even if the instructions are relatively simple, it is still gracious hospitality to walk with them. "The nursery? I'm headed in that direction, why don't I walk with you and I can introduce you to the nursery coordinator."
Can you imagine what an amazingly powerful impact it could have on those who are newer to our church if everyone one of us considered ourselves part of the hospitality team. And in the process, you just might make a new friend!
I look forward to seeing you all in worship this Sunday as we launch a brand new series "One Another." This is going to be a great series. You won't want to miss a single week.