Not too long ago, pastor and author Mike James came to my church and spoke to the group leaders. He and Dr. Ken Hemphill co-authored the book V.E.L.C.R.O. Church (an excellent, easy read with lots of practical tips for making your church and your groups “sticky”). Today’s blog post is an excerpt from my friend Mike’s book. Hospitality is vitally important, and Mike tells us why:
The church is in the hospitality business and thus we must think about our church as we would our home when we are expecting to entertain a guest. The first issue is intentionality. If your church does not have a plan to make guests feel at home, it will not occur by accident…Treat every guest as a gift from God. What is your response when you receive a very special gift from a loved one? You express appropriate gratitude. You handle that gift with great care and love. We should be grateful for every guest and handle them with great care and compassion. Your guests want to know whether they will fit and whether they can find friends at your church. People come to church looking for a friend, not a friendly church. Many churches are friendly to each other, but fail to be friendly to the guest.
Having been a guest looking for a church home a few years ago, everything Mike says is true. All my wife and I wanted was to find a Bible study group after relocating to the Nashville area. We visited multiple churches and sat in multiple groups – all of which were friendly to each other, but not to us. They didn’t mean any harm to us – they probably thought of themselves as friendly – but we were doing just what Mike suggests guests do – we were looking for new friends.
Pass this along to your group leaders and have them view themselves and their groups through the eyes of a guest. Friendly churches are declining all around us. Churches where people can make friends will grow.