Great hospitality isn’t a strategy, it’s part of a lifestyle. It begins within the hearts of a few who have a gift of hospitality and catches like wildfire amongst all it touches.
Yesterday I spoke at the Ruach 2015 Conference in Chattanooga, TN. It was hosted at Redemption Point Church, where Kevin Wallace is the pastor. What a great experience! I always love the opportunity to teach on the topic of leadership, and on occasion there is something that is so notable it catches me by surprise.
The hospitality at Redemption Point Church blew me away. It was contagious. It was more like a spirit in the air rather than training from a handbook. From the moment I pulled into the parking lot throughout my experience there, I felt noticed, cared for and like I mattered. (Way before they knew I was one of the speakers.)
Romans 12:9-13 came alive in a practical way.
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:9-13
They truly practiced hospitality. The underpinnings of hospitality are love, generosity, and a genuine heart to serve.
If I was a guest attending a church service there on Sunday, I’d return just because of how I was treated. How about your church? How are your teams doing from the parking lot to the nursery, ushers, greeters, coffee teams etc.?
Three insights on hospitality for your church teams:
Hospitality is not duty, it’s a passion.
It’s less about doing the right thing and more about being the right person. There are many ways to be gracious and welcoming, but having the right heart and authenticity that loves to serve makes all the difference. You can know that the “right thing to do” (duty) is to take good care of your guests, but if you don’t genuinely care, people know it.
You can literally see it in the way someone opens a door for you. One is doing the right thing, the other does it in the right way. One is a learned task, (open the door for new people), the other is pure joy and delight to serve.
Hospitality is not a strategy, it’s a way of living.
It’s true that hospitality as a strategy is helpful. If you treat your guests better they are more likely to return. But in contrast to a strategy, if you treat your guests well just because that’s who you who are (you can’t imagine treating them poorly), the difference is staggering. If you treat them like kings and queens because you are honored they would come to your church, and you care about them, and your goal is to serve them not get them to come back, the difference is palpable.
Hospitality is not corporate, it’s personal.
We all have to organize our teams, plan and train the volunteers. Culture and method does matter, but ultimately it’s personal. The best hospitality is experienced when one human being engages another and the experience is lifted to a higher level because of the hospitality given.
To close, let me offer a few more scripture passages to encourage your thoughts on hospitality in your church.
Gaius, whose hospitality I and the whole church here enjoy, sends you his greetings. Romans 16:23
Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:1-2
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. I Peter 4:8-10