Fiona Haworth and Jim Ozier, authors of Clip-In: Risking Hospitality in Your Church, offer ten tips for improving the work of your hospitality team and making newcomers to your church feel welcome.
1. Remembering names is important! We all know the value of calling a person by name. We all know how good it feels when someone else remembers our name. When serving on the hospitality team, keep a small notebook with you and write down the names of new persons you meet. Ask them to repeat and spell the name. Pray for each name during the week. It will help you remember so you might be able to call the people by name when you see them the next time.
Practice “preemptive hospitality” by constantly asking: What do first-time guests need to know? What are their needs? What do they want to experience? What will make them glad they are here?
2. Whenever possible, when asked “Where is …?” questions, personally escort the inquirer to his or her destination instead of simply directing him or her to it.
3. Utilize “the hand off” when it isn’t practical to actually escort a person to the destination. Hand the guest off to another person with a solid introduction. “Steve, please meet Larry; would you show him where the Family Life Center is? Thanks!” This models introductions and connection.
4. Extend hospitality to the parking lots and outside the front doors: greeters with umbrellas on a rainy day are a welcome sight.
5. Provide bright fluorescent vests and walkie-talkies to parking lot greeters, even if the walkie-talkies don’t always work. It adds to the professionalism and increases the sense of “feeling safe” for guests when they arrive.
6. Create good culture by extending your church’s messaging of upcoming events throughout the building, including in the restrooms.
7. First-time guests (especially with children) are always interested in safety, cleanliness, and professionalism. Hospitality includes check-in procedures in the children’s areas, eager teachers in place as guests arrive, and freshly cleaned and cared-for classrooms and restrooms. This gives witness to the sense that “somebody has really thought about us here!”
8. Practice “preemptive hospitality” by constantly asking: What do first-time guests need to know? What are their needs? What do they want to experience? What will make them glad they are here? What can we do in hospitality to make them recommend our church to friends?
9. Go out of your way to create the way! There are thousands of websites with excellent information for church hospitality, but nothing will help much unless you really LOVE people and love interacting with people. Lead with your heart, and your words, feet, and hands will follow in a hospitable way.
10. SMILE! There is no crying in baseball and no frowning in hospitality!
This material is from Fiona and Jim’s book, Clip-In: Risking Hospitality in Your Church (Abingdon Press, 2014) and used with the publisher’s permission. It is available at Abingdon Press, Cokesbury, and Amazon.