We've all been there: months of preparation lead into the "big night" of a women's event, the day finally arrives, and you're so consumed with details that you forget, or simply don't have time, to stop and welcome new faces to your event. In the hustle and bustle of women's ministry, one, if not the most, important factor that tends to get pushed to the side is hospitality.
Where a lot of people immediately go wrong is assuming that hospitality begins and ends at the door. While welcoming new guests when they enter our events is absolutely important, hospitality goes much beyond that, and begins before they ever set foot in a service.
Today, we're going to dive into three ways that you can master the art of hospitality to grow your women's ministry.
Put yourself in their shoes.
People want to feel welcome, just like you did your first time at your church. Think from the perspective of the guest - what would make you feel welcome to your church if you were new? Sometimes, it helps to physically walk from the parking lot to a seat in the auditorium and see what it feels like during your average service, and ask yourself a few questions. Did you know which entrance to use? If your church hands out bulletins or other publications, did you know where to get one? When walking into the auditorium, did you feel overwhelmed, not knowing where to sit? Or did someone help you find a spot? Count how many people said hello to you with a smile. Did you hear about any new events coming up? Did anyone offer to sit with you? These are small things that quickly add up and make a guest want to come back.
Make every second count.
The first 15 minutes are the most important - even before the sermon, your guest should be welcomed by as many people as possible from door to pew. We recommend that at least 3 people should interact with your new guest before they reach their seat- a waver in the parking lot, someone welcoming them at the door, and a designated person to look for new faces in the auditorium and go make them feel welcome, and even offer to sit with them during the service. Before the worship even starts, your guest should feel like they belong.
Plan ahead - be proactive, not reactive.
It’s a good idea to give all of your volunteers a spiritual gifts assessment (link here for a good one we have used before). This test will allow you to see where your volunteers strengths and weaknesses are. You don’t want to put someone with the gift of hospitality behind closed doors - they should be on your front lines! Likewise, someone who may be more administratively minded will be perfect to help you with all the behind the scenes work, rather than throwing them into a situation that may make them feel uncomfortable and unprepared. Don't be afraid of trial and error - ask your volunteers for a few things they are interested in doing, and move them around until you find what works best for your team!
In the end, hospitality is about communicating the genuine love and joy that Christ has given to us before the Word has even been spoken. Make your heart, and the heart of your team, to show your guests the love of Christ, and watch your ministry grow.