While our conversation on Radical Hospitality is mostly behind us (Centre Grove church council), we’re still working on some of the practical steps (primarily adding directional signs, which have been completed, and revamping our welcoming ministry of ushers and greeters).
We’ve named our ministry of ushers and greeters “First Impressions Ministry” (not original with us). The goal of this ministry is, “Creating an environment where people experience God’s love!”
We are in the process of training our ushers and greeters (we asked ushers and greeters to attend one of three different sessions, with the last coming up this week).
First, we’re sharing with them why we’re revamping this ministry, specifically our discussion of Radical Hospitality. We walked through the following quote from Bishop Schnase’s book, Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations …
Christian hospitality refers to the active desire to invite, welcome, receive, and care for those who are strangers so that they find a spiritual home and discover for themselves the unending richness of life in Christ. It describes a genuine love for others who are not yet part of the faith community, an outward focus, a reaching out to those not yet known, a love that motivates church members to openness and adaptability, a willingness to change behaviors in order to accommodate the needs and receive the talents of newcomers.
We also try to give a sense of the need to be welcoming of all people. I think the following (slightly adapted) from Serving as a Church Greeter, by Leslie Parrott, is helpful in communicating who we need to be kind toward …
- Kindness to new people who feel strange and don’t know their way around
- Kindness to the elderly who increasingly feel alone
- Kindness to the children who are outside their comfort zone
- Kindness to mothers and fathers with babies in their arms and toddlers at their sides
- Kindness to people who show up regularly at the same time at the same door every week
- Kindness to people who have physical challenges
- Kindness toward the pastor and staff, who sometimes need an advocate at the door
- Kindness to people who don’t think they need it
After casting the vision for the First Impressions Ministry, we get into the practical details, which are really pretty simple, I think.
The Greeters serve outside the worship space (in our case, at the two entrances to the sanctuary and entrance from the parking lot). The Ushers serve inside the worship space seating newcomers and receiving the offering. We are asking them to …
- Arrive early
- Smile and be friendly
- Introduce themselves and introduce newcomer to someone else
- Be helpful (know location of restrooms, nursery, entrances/exits, specials needs, etc.)
- Distribute welcome cards
- Show people to their seats (Ushers)
- Receive offering (Ushers)
We believe the development of our First Impressions Ministry will help us practice a more radical hospitality toward all people!