Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Ministry Musings: Hospitality

When was the last time you were new somewhere? What sort of things did you look for? What kind of things were you wondering about? How quickly, and easily, your concerns and questions were addressed went a long ways in determining their hospitality, which probably went a long way in determining whether or not you returned.

We have talked about a desire to grow here at St. Luke's Lutheran Church, which means we are going to hopefully have people visiting for the first time and they will be asking questions on their way here, and as they enter. How easily they find answers will go a long way for them feeling welcome and wanting to return.
I know when I am going places I’m wondering things like: Where am I going to park? Where am I supposed go in? Can I find the bathrooms easily if the need should arise? Will I be warmly welcomed? Will I be able to follow along? How will I know what to do so I can blend in? What are the unspoken rules? Will there be a place for me to take my child to quiet him down or change a diaper?

How are we doing with out hospitality at St. Luke’s? If you are a visitor coming for the first time, showing up as worship is about to start, is there a clear place to park? Is there clear signage as to where to enter and where to find things around the facility? What are our unspoken rules about where people sit, how we take communion, how we interact, etc? How many people introduce themselves to new faces and how many speak only to family and friends? Is there something we could be offering first time visitors, like a gift or a cup of coffee?

Over the course of the summer I encourage you to invite a friend or family member to come as a “spy” and see how we are doing with hospitality. I also invite you to attend a different congregation (perhaps when you’re away on vacation) and make note of what that experience is like as a visitor, making note of things we can do to help welcome the stranger (something Jesus encouraged us to do by the way). It’s amazing how far a little old fashioned hospitality will go.

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