[dc]E[/dc]xtra ordinary hospitality is probably the last thing church visitors expect on a Sunday morning.
I find that odd.
After all, church visitors visit because the Father is drawing them. Since God gives us the chance to join in this work, hospitality – odd as it may sound – is a heavenly vocation. We are derelict in our duties when we fail to extend extraordinary hospitality.
But there’s good news in the bad.
Interim Pastors have a chance to bless the church and wow church visitors. Simply eliminate the things visitors dislike and offer the unexpected. If you do, generations will rise up and call you blessed.
Eliminate what church visitors dislike
- Church visitors dislike feeling out of place
- Church visitors dislike initiating introductions
- Church visitors dislike feeling isolated
Not a complete list, just a few of my favorite things.
If you sensitize the church and tutor them in proper hospitality you eliminate these things. You will put church visitors at ease and they will leave delighted by the experience.
#1 Church visitors dislike feeling out of place
Dozens of signals from a variety of channels convey a message to the church visitor: you are out of place here.
It starts before they set foot on your property. It begins on your website’s homepage. As I’ve mentioned before, everything visitors need to know should be displayed at the top of the home page.
- Service times and locations
- Where to enter the sanctuary (if it is a large campus)
- A photo of the pastor
I’ve only had surgery twice. Each time the surgeon described what would be happening. Then on the big day an anesthesiologist met me and described what he would be doing. I found the information comforting – at least partly. My anxiety level went down considerably!
Just a bit of information ahead of time will put your church visitor at ease. They will know the before the arrive at the church campus and won’t feel quite as out of place.
#2 Church visitors dislike initiating introductions
Is there a more uncomfortable social situation than walking into a strange place where it seems everyone knows everyone but you?
Church folks lose touch with those feelings. In interim positions I have told the “greeters” to become visitors. They take turns visiting another church and report the experience to the rest of the team.
It’s an eye-opener!
Those who do it see church visitors in a new light. They make sure to introduce themselves and then – this is the extraordinary hospitality part – they introduce the church visitors to other church members.
Introducing a guest to someone else in the church is so rare in churches it qualifies as an act of extraordinary hospitality!
#3 Church visitors dislike feeling isolated
The most uncomfortable moment for church visitors begins when the closing prayer ends. They feel isolated when the congregation breaks into clusters to chat after the service. Those broad smiles and attentive postures affirm bonds between members. But they scream at the church visitor, “YOU DON’T BELONG!”
In a followup post I’ll suggest a few simple strategies you can implement to eliminate the things church visitors dislike.
I’d like to hear your stories
I visit a lot of churches in my ministry. I’ve got lots of horror stories to share. But I’d love to hear your experiences. As a practitioner of the transitional arts you’ve had opportunities aplenty to be a church visitor.
What have you seen? What have you done to solve this problem in your ministries?