The guest services or hospitality team is one of the most critical ministry areas for your church. No matter the size of your church, the faces that greet and guide guests and regular attenders alike set the tone for the day’s experience. With intentionality and thoughtfulness, you can equip even the least experienced or most introverted members to become guest experience rock stars!
What I love most about the church hospitality team is that almost anyone can participate in some facet of it. Whether they are 8 or 80, almost anyone can open a door, hand out a bulletin, or smile and offer a friendly “Good morning!” or “How can I help?” No matter the size of the team or what your guest welcome area looks like, with these four tips, you can quickly equip your volunteers to be even more effective at showing the kind of thoughtfulness that brings guests back to church week after week.
1. OBSERVE with Intent
The power of observation is a vital first step to anticipating the needs of your guest. Studies have shown that our brains can process an image as quickly as 13 milliseconds – use that to your advantage! Whether you are stationed as a greeter in the church parking lot, manning a door, or working a desk, observing the moments before a guest approaches you can set you up for providing a memorable guest experience.
As a strong introvert myself, observing people comes naturally. When volunteering for your church’s hospitality team, however, it is vitally important that you observe with intent. Constantly scan the area. Does somebody look lost? Is a guest fumbling around a bit on a rainy day trying to juggle a Bible, kids, and an umbrella? Is a family you’ve never seen before walking up to you looking a bit unsure? Constantly be looking for these subtle cues as they are an opportunity to assist while also setting you up for the next important principle.
2. ASK with Anticipation
Taking the clues from your observation, you can now turn those into thoughtful questions that anticipate a person’s needs. At one time or another we’ve probably all visited a home improvement store and gone aisle after aisle staring at shelf after shelf unable to find something we needed for a project or repair. Many of us probably continue that process for quite some time while stubbornly refusing to track down an employee who could have directed us to the very thing we needed. But what will many of us do the moment an employee approaches us asking if they can help? More times than not, we seize the opportunity to seek their guidance.
Working in church hospitality isn’t all that different. People often know what they need but they are hesitant to ask for help. When we train our volunteers to simply ask “How can I help?”, we help that person to feel seen and cared for. But what we do next is even more important.
3. LISTEN without Agenda
We’ve all done it at some point. We meet somebody for the first time and get so worked up about introducing ourselves as if we’re worried that we’ll forget our own moniker that we completely gloss over the other person saying theirs. Been there? Not just me? It’s the worst feeling when you realize it happened. So what went wrong here? We weren’t listening without an agenda. We heard them, but we were so concerned with saying our own name that we didn’t truly listen to what they were saying. A guest at your church could be approaching you for any number of reasons and while we want to be prepared to anticipate needs, we need to also be disciplined in our ability to pause and listen.
If your guest services team also serves in a “next steps” or assimilation capacity, listening is that much more critical. Don’t know what next step to guide them to? Continue to ask and listen until clarity comes. Many churches have a tendency to want to jump from “first date” to “marriage” with their guests and it often stems from a lack of disciplined listening. The risk you take by moving forward based on assumptions is that you alienate and frustrate the guest as they feel pushed in a direction they aren’t ready to go in yet. A clear Next Steps ministry and discipleship path helps with this, but even in the absence of those, good listening can make a world of difference. Once you know where your guest wants to go, your job now is to help them get there.
4. GUIDE with Purpose
Whether your guest needs help checking their kids in or they want to join the church, we must guide them to a clear, singular next step. Take the information you’ve gathered from your Observe, Ask, and Listen stages and identify what the appropriate next step is and guide them there. Remember to avoid providing too many options as that risks creating an environment of inaction. When you lack a clear next step – a micro-commitment of sorts – the guest will feel overwhelmed, unimportant, or disconnected. By personally guiding our guests to a solution that’s rooted in their underlying needs, we help that person to feel welcomed and loved.
Being thoughtful in your guest experience ministry doesn’t have to be rocket science. It doesn’t even require the most bubbly of extroverts to execute. But it does require being intentional to avoid our teams becoming ineffective. The good news is, you can start reinforcing these four simple principles for a better guest experience with your team starting this week!
So, as a recap, remember these 4 principles:
1. Observe with Intent
2. Ask with Anticipation
3. Listen without an Agenda
4. Guide with a Purpose
Posted on: April 2, 2020