This past weekend I had the privilege of speaking at the Capital District Christian Conference hosted by the Clifton Park Church of Christ. The topic of my session was “Be The Change; Bring the Lost”. I took the opportunity to share the Lawson Rd theme for 2011, Love & Rescue, and to describe how we’ve developed our Hospitality Ministry this year. You can read my previous posts on “Rescue” here and here.
As I reflect on my presentation, I think the most important question I posed was, “Who is the most valued person in your worship service each Sunday?” In Luke 15 the emphasis is undeniably placed on the fact that the sheep, coin and son are all lost, but subsequently found. However, in each case, some sheep, coins and a son are never lost. Yet the primary character gives all his attention to the item/person that is lost. As long as it is lost, that sheep, coin and son are the most valuable, or urgent, among similar items. How do we value the “lost” people we encounter each day?
One of the ways we’ve sought to value newcomers to Lawson Road is through the development of a Hospitality Ministry. Hebrews 13:2 reads, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” (ESV) Our Hospitality Ministry intends to make any newcomer feel valued, whether they be lost, or family. Here are some initiatives we’ve started in the last few months:
- Greeters stationed in the car park (with an umbrella if necessary). These greeters can then guide guests through our facilities pointing out the nursery, restrooms, etc.
- Welcome Table. Our new foyer will facilitate this much better. It’s our goal to have some hot drinks, OJ, and pastries available for all comers, as well as someone available to strike up conversation.
- Childproofing. We put plugs in all our power outlets.
- Name tags. We created name tags for our greeters, nursery staff, and elders.
- Followup. We now make an effort to have a member write a card (that should arrive Tuesday) to first-time guests and I send an email on Monday. This gives us a couple of days of ongoing communication.
I understand that a skeptic might argue that this is nothing but sales techniques, which is why motivation is so important. Our Hospitality is not motivated by sales or conversions, but by humility and love. That’s what we’re seeking to communicate.
Here are some resources we used during the launch of this ministry:
- Fusion by Nelson Searcy.
- Beyond the First Visit by Gary L. McIntosh
- First Impressions by Mark L. Waltz
- I also really like a talk presented by Mark Taylor titled Be Our Guest. You can read the transcript here.
These resources all come from churches vastly different to Lawson Rd. We have evaluated each of their suggestions to decide if it’s at all applicable to our church, and if it is, how to implement it.
We do all this work because we know that God loves the world. The world needs Rescue. God wants to use us to break down barriers and let the world know that He loves and values each person.
I’d love to get your feedback to these questions, or any other reflections on this article.
- How does your church communicate love to your guests?
- Have you ever been on the receiving end of church visit that left a lasting positive impression on you?
- Do you agree that the “lost” should be the most highly valued among us?