Have you attended a church service and felt welcomed from the time you entered the parking lot until the time you left? If you answered yes, chances are you attended a worship service that has a strong church hospitality ministry.
Today, people have many options for church, including virtual church services. If first-time visitors don’t feel welcome, they might walk out and never return.
Across the country, churches are closing their doors due to low membership. This downturn can be due to the inability or unwillingness to utilize technology.
Although technology isn't always the culprit. Sometimes churches may not have a defined church hospitality ministry. Whether you have a church hospitality ministry or not, it's a good idea to continually look for ways to improve.
The size of your congregation doesn't matter. You need a church hospitality plan to improve. Keep reading. We’ve prepared a hospitality guide to help attract new members.
Table of Contents
- What Is a Church Hospitality Ministry?
- Why Is the Church Hospitality Ministry a Vital Asset?
- Hospitality Ministry Umbrella
- How to Create a Solid Church Hospitality Plan
- The Roles and Responsibilities of a Hospitality Committee
- Guidelines for Running an Existing Hospitality Ministry
- Best Practices for a Church Hospitality Committee
- Church Hospitality Ideas to Attract New Members
What Is a Church Hospitality Ministry?
The Bible speaks on the church’s responsibility to become a welcoming body. To embrace everyone that crosses their threshold and build a loving community of believers. The goal is to build disciples equipped to go out into the world and share God’s love and plan for salvation.
The church hospitality ministry is the first representation of the church that people come across. However, they are more than the welcome committee.
The hospitality ministry has many layers that make up the body of the congregation. Their responsibilities span the lifecycle of the members’ interactions with the church.
For the church to build strong disciples to go out into their communities to teach the Word, they first must have a strong foundation. Later, in this free ministry guide, we go in-depth to define the sub-ministries that fall under church hospitality.
Why Is the Church Hospitality Ministry a Vital Asset?
Whether pastors want to acknowledge it, the church is a business. It is a business that deals with a diverse group of people. Each person has expectations, and it’s the goal of the hospitality ministry to create a culture of inclusion.
The first step is to define the church’s culture. No church can be everything to everybody. However, it can put in place the right processes to ensure its ministry aligns with the church’s overall goals.
To do this, you’ll start by creating a church hospitality ministry guide. The guide outlines the purpose and goals of the ministry. Just as the church has a mission statement, so should each ministry.
The mission statement is a reminder of why the ministry exists. Consider these scriptures from the New Living Translation (NLT) as you think about your hospitality ministry’s mission statement.
For he was faithful to God, who appointed him just as Moses served faithfully when he was entrusted with God’s entire house.
Rather, he must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must love what is good. He must live wisely and be just. He must live a devout and disciplined life.
1 Timothy 5:10
Has she been kind to strangers and served other believers humbly? Has she helped those who are in trouble? Has she always been ready to do good?
1 Peter 4:8
Love each other deeply because love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
Hospitality Ministry Umbrella
When you think of the hospitality ministry at church, does your first thought go to the greeters at the door? The gentlemen who say good morning as they open the door for you. Or the ladies standing in the foyer, letting you know when it’s okay to enter the sanctuary.
Yes, they are part of the hospitality ministry, but only a small part.
Not every church needs multiple sub-ministries. As your church grows, the day will come when you must expand to accommodate a growing congregation. Don’t worry, it’s a sign you’re doing ministry right.
A hospitality plan will prepare you to adapt to your growing congregation quickly.
Ministries That Fall Under Hospitality
On the outside looking in, most people have no idea what goes into a successful ministry. Megachurches in the U.S. have mastered the blueprint of inclusion when it comes to discipleship. They understand that they must have ownership for people to truly connect to a ministry.
The way to gain ownership in a ministry is to take an active role by contributing your gifts and talents. The hospitality ministry has several moving parts, and each entity is intertwined with other ministries to create a unique experience.
Let’s take a look.
- Welcome Ministries
- Guest Services
- Member Services
Welcome ministries are the front line. Their mission is to show love and concern for members and visitors entering and exiting the church. These ministries can also move beyond the church building.
The Parking Lot Ministry
Having volunteers ensures the church parking lot is clean, safe, and congregants can get in and out quickly. They direct traffic and let people know when a lot is full and where to find additional parking.
For large campuses, the ministry has mobile carts to transport members to the building, if needed.
We touched on greeters earlier. These people open the doors for members and welcome them to church. They also have teams in the lobby to answer questions and direct members into the sanctuary or other areas like the nursery.
Ushers sometimes get a bad rap. They are responsible for maintaining order during church services. They ensure everyone gets a church bulletin and finds a seat. They also collect the offerings and maintain decorum.
They also work with the church hospitality ministry to ensure welcome messaging is on point for visitors to the church campus. If you’ve been to a large campus, you’ve seen banners directing visitors to the welcome center, youth service, nursery, etc.
The hospitality ministry will also have church announcements regarding upcoming events and invite members to join a ministry.
Guest services centers are growing among church campuses. It can include a welcome center in the foyer or a kiosk located in high-traffic areas.
The purpose of guest services is to provide information to members and visitors concerning church services, the campus and upcoming events.
Another branch of guest services includes the Health & Wellness Ministry. These are medical professionals onsite during church services if someone experiences a medical emergency. They also host wellness events.
Church hospitality should always work like a well-oiled machine. It requires individuals that are patient and compassionate. They also must love serving others.
The new church membership ministry takes the wheel after visitors decide to become members. Immediately following the invitation to discipleship, those individuals visit new members’ services.
The initial task is to gather information on the new member. Are they joining as a new member or returning member? Are they baptized?
Many churches offer new members’ classes, and upon completion, members are introduced to the congregation. This is done via the right hand of fellowship ceremony or reception following church service.
Pastor’s Aide Ministry
The Pastor’s Aide Ministry is an elite ministry assigned to the pastor. They provide hospitality services to the pastor and executive leadership. When guest pastors serve at the church, the ministry attends to their needs.
This elite team is also instrumental in planning the pastor’s anniversary recognition activities.
Find the best cooks among the congregation, and you’re sure to have a beloved kitchen ministry. These members play an instrumental role when it comes to onsite programs. They prepare food for everything ranging from banquets, meetings, and snacks for Vacation Bible School.
The kitchen ministry often operates similarly to a restaurant. Seek volunteers with food service experience. They also require compassion because they are also called on to serve bereaved families.
Sadly, we live in an era where ministries require security details. Megachurches employ security teams that include off-duty law enforcement agents. The security isn’t limited to the pastor, who may have private security.
Security ministry members are unpaid volunteers who protect the congregation during services and onsite church events.
Often congregants have no clue who is in the security ministry. They blend in with the congregation, strategically placed to watch all entry points and movement. They are most active when it’s time to collect the offering.
How to Create a Solid Church Hospitality Plan
Creating a solid church hospitality plan isn’t as hard as you may think. The idea of creating a hospitality plan can come from a church member, ministry leader, or pastor.
Whoever presents the idea should discuss why the church needs to focus on its hospitality structure. Next, present the idea to the pastor and executive leadership.
Once everyone is on board, a church hospitality committee is selected. Their initial duty is strategic planning.
Consider hospitality models used at successful churches. Many church leaders will consider it an honor and invite your team to come and shadow their hospitality ministry one Sunday. Don’t shy away from visiting other congregations that are willing to share their church hospitality ministry guidelines with you.
The Roles and Responsibilities of a Hospitality Committee
There are various roles you’ll need for a well-rounded team. Choose a team that consists of people with a variety of business skills.
The ministry leader is an appointed position that will report directly to a member of executive leadership. This person will oversee the implementation of the church hospitality plan. They will appoint the other members of the planning team.
The assistant leader will co-chair the leadership role and lead meetings without the leader. The two must have a shared vision for the hospitality ministry and work well together.
Next, the ministry leader and assistant leader will work together to choose a leader for each of the following ministries:
- New Members Ministry
- Kitchen Ministry
- Ushers and Members Services
Roles that aren’t direct ministries under hospitality will require liaisons as a direct point of contact. These include communications, security, and pastor’s aide ministry.
The person or persons volunteering in this role will require good oral and written communications skills. If the church has a church management software platform, request access for the administrative assistant.
Working with the management software will make the job easier. Plus, the person will have access to communication tools when it comes time to roll out the plan to members.
The church hospitality committee will require a budget. Once the ministry is up and running, a separate annual budget will need to be set.
The hospitality ministry will then allocate their annual funds among the ministries directly under their umbrella. Appointing a treasurer with budgeting skills is vital to the ministry’s success.
Ministry counselors are there to assure harmony and peace preside over all meetings. Choose two or three counselors for the planning committee and later reassign them to their various hospitality ministries.
The role of the counselors includes opening and closing all sessions in prayer and being the voice of reason when the team members cannot agree. They also act as a source for the ministry leaders when they need to vent.
Ministry counselors are not certified counselors, although that would have great benefits. They are members in good standing who have served in ministry and have extensive knowledge of the Bible and biblical principles.
Guidelines for Running an Existing Hospitality Ministry
The guidelines for running an existing hospitality ministry are simple. Always use biblical teachings to guide decisions and when dealing with church members.
Remember, the goal of the hospitality ministry is to oversee the spiritual growth of the church. It is also vital to measure and monitor the pulse of the church. Is the ministry meeting the needs of the members?
If your church hosts an annual leadership retreat, allow the hospitality ministry to host a session. This is a great way to engage other ministries and promote the one-team concept.
It’s also vital to the church’s growth to always stay engaged and look for new technology to advance its efforts.
- Host quarterly workshops
- Reassess qualities
- Reevaluate volunteers
- Review volunteer duties
- Update attire
- Monitor formations
- Open recruitment
Quarterly workshops help boost the church hospitality ministry performance. You keep volunteers engaged and thinking about the latest advancements in ministry. It’s also essential to stay in touch with ministry volunteers to ensure they are still committed to the ministry and its goals.
The workshops are hosted by community partners or volunteers wanting to share new concepts. Consider implementing a requirement that volunteers attend a minimum of two workshops a year.
When your church leadership reassesses the quality of a minister, it is no different than your manager assessing the work being performed at a place of employment. It’s vital to always inspect what you expect.
The church hospitality committee set guidelines for the various ministries during the hospitality planning phase. Periodically, they should measure or survey the performance of the ministries.
Is the kitchen ministry following food preparation standards? Are the greeters courteous? Is the health and wellness ministry recording incidents?
By doing quality inspections, the leaders can determine if they require more volunteers or additional training.
A person cannot serve in the same ministry for more than two years at some churches. The thought is if a person serves in the same capacity for too long, it denies others the opportunity to serve.
Members should constantly be growing and looking for new opportunities to serve. It gives a better perspective of the church and prevents members from feeling like they own a ministry.
Always encourage members to move around and utilize their gifts in different ways. Offer spiritual gift assessments to help members look for unique ways to serve, so they remain well-rounded.
Volunteers must follow attire guidelines. Choirs wear choir robes or matching outfits. Ushers wear uniforms, as well as greeters and members of the welcome desk.
The guidelines are in place to make them easily recognizable when members require assistance.
Ensure that everyone is uniform and following protocol. Your church may cover the cost of uniforms, or it’s the volunteer’s responsibility. Consider incorporating it into your hospitality attire if your church has a line or branded attire like t-shirts or polos.
For example, ushers could wear burgundy polos. The kitchen ministry could wear black.
Formations apply mainly to hospitality ministries. The formations include how and where they line up.
Ushers must sit on the back pews during the sermon but have set positions at other times. The health and wellness ministry may have a set section. Greeters are assigned to certain doors on the campus and are required to open doors and say good morning to guests.
Everyone has a gift or talent that is vital to the ministry. Churches need to attract new members, not only to grow but also to prevent volunteer burn-out. Part of the new member’s classes is a section on spiritual gifts.
Review the assessments and invite candidates to ministry highlights to pique their interests. Sometimes members have no idea the number and types of volunteer roles crucial to the church’s success.
Best Practices for a Church Hospitality Committee
The hospitality ministry is often the first impression of your church. You always want to count towards attracting and welcoming new members.
When recruiting members to serve on the hospitality committee, ensure the committee reflects your congregation. Don’t be afraid to embrace diversity.
One mistake churches have made in the past is not being inclusive. Move away from what you used to do and start embracing new thinkers. Everything the church needs is right in the pews...creatives, innovators, and every possible skill set.
Tap new members to join the committee. Embrace technology. Maintain concise records and document all meetings.
To keep the ministry moving in the right direction, have a willingness to try new things. The pastor is your biggest cheerleader and wants what’s best for the church.
Provide a timely update of all meetings. Run ideas by the pastor to make sure you’re on course with their overall vision for the church.
Review past practices to determine which ones to keep, which ones to modify, and which ones to eliminate. Here are a few to consider.
- Practice learning members’ names. The church should have a family feeling, so help new members and old feel like family members.
- If someone asks for directions, escort them to their destination instead of pointing the way. Incorporate signage and a communications system to assist visitors new to the campus.
- Implement a church health survey to assess how members and visitors receive the efforts of the hospitality ministry.
Information can’t always come from the committee. It’s best to go to the source to assess what the members and visitors need accurately.
Church Hospitality Ideas to Attract New Members
The most efficient way to attract new members is to show them great hospitality and a sermon to get through the week.
Use church visitor cards to learn who’s visiting. Reach out to them with a thank you card or gift for attending your services. Determine if they are repeat visitors and have someone reach out with a phone call.
Host a community event and go door-to-door to invite neighbors personally. Encourage members to bring someone to church and acknowledge them during the service.
Last, always make visitors feel like family. Don’t tell them about God. Let them experience God.
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