Church hospitality remains a hot topic, especially for interim pastors leading troubled churches and permanent pastors of churches in troubled waters. They still ask, “What are best practices to welcome visitors?” Church visitors are a precious commodity so good tools for welcoming and enfolding guests into the believing community are prized.
The demand for useful ways of making visitors feel good about the experience is unfilled. I participate in several Linkedin groups, contribute to other blogs and monitor the traffic here. In my narrow universe church visitors is a hot topic; church discipline runs a close second. (I guess church leaders want to welcome visitors, assimilate them into the church and â€“ once they’re there â€“ deal with the issues they bring with grace and redemptive intent) These threads about church hospitality and welcoming church visitors are enriched by contributions and viewpoints from a variety of ecclesiastical backgrounds. A common motif in the threads and comments are petitions for help disguised behind the genteel mask of the probing question, “What have you found that works?”
CHURCH HOSPITALITY: TOO MANY TOOLS?
This is surprising, given the embarrassment of riches on this subject. A Google search for the phrase “books +’church hospitality’ ” turns up 7,430 results. An Amazon search for books on “church hospitality” serves up 1,153 items for your consideration!
Mark Waltz’s book, First Impressions: Creating Wow Experiences in Your Church, is one of my favorites on how to increase the likelihood that church visitors will eventually become church regulars. You can always count on Mark’s website for great resources. Church hospitality and how to welcome visitors is also an important subject in a number of “one off” blog posts. Anthony Coppedge is a regular contributor at ChurchLeaders.Com. His article “Church Hospitality: On Purpose” is well worth your time. Bill Tenny-Brittian has a great website, Effective Church Hospitality, chock full of little gems.
With great material like this readily available, the continued interest in how to handle church visitors can only be explained in a few ways. Either there’s too much written about church hospitality to choose from (the most likely explanation); what’s out there isn’t enough to satisfy the need; or interim pastors leading troubled churches have unique needs that aren’t addressed in the current literature. Whatever the case, it’s clear that books in print aren’t providing the tools and information in a fashion that can be quickly implemented.
STUFF I’VE LEARNED ABOUT CHURCH VISITORS FROM MISTAKES I’VE MADE!
I bring a Federal Reserve Note with a face value of $1 to this conversation. I earned it in small rural churches, medium sized suburban churches and in a megachurch that at the time (no thanks to me, I just happened to be there) was one of the fastest growing churches in America. (You can find it here, listed as #8 under “Arizona”) So I offer the wisdom of bruises. Give me $0.98 in change and we’ll call it square.
If I’m not careful, the data dump on what I’ve learned about dealing with church visitors will end up running 3,000 to 4,000 words. You haven’t got time for that so I’m going to break it down into a series of posts that I’ll put up over the next few days. Here are some of the things you’ll see on this topic:
- Discover Their Motives
- Check Your Motives
- Ten Quick Steps
- Spot ’em a Mile Away
- Extraordinary Hospitality
- 10 Steps to Improve Visitor Retention
- Find Fresh Faces for the Greeter’s Team
- 3 Easy Ways to Wow Church Visitors
- Train Constantly
- Highlight the front door
- No guards on duty
- Go overboard
- Don’t let the pastor visit them
- Beef up the pastor’s memory
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