While in South Carolina this past weekend, a group of congregational leaders discussed ways to extend hospitality which led to creating this slightly irreverent “Top 10″ list below. It serves as a reminder of how simple, intentional acts of hospitality can profoundly influence the way people feel welcomed and valued. Perhaps we simply need to treat guests that come to our congregations the same way we treat guests that come to our homes.
TOP 10 COUNTDOWN
10. Never ask a guest’s his or her name. Don’t bother to introduce yourself. You don’t want to get too friendly on the first visit.
9. Look like you got up on the wrong side of the bed. Make it obvious that worship is serious business and smiling is inappropriate.
8. Remind guests that they’re sitting in your pew. If they hesitate to move, mention how many years you’ve been a member and point to the other members you’re related to in the church.
7. If guests arrive late, roll your eyes. If their attire is inappropriate or their kids wiggle, use the “look” to show them how people are supposed to act around here.
6. If they struggle to follow worship using the hymnal, suggest that they find out how to worship our way BEFORE they attend.
5. Use your sermon time productively. Complete your grocery list and respond to incoming texts and emails during the sermon. Prove to guests that the protestant work ethic hasn’t gone away!
4. Don’t bother to invite them to the fellowship hall for refreshments. It will be hard for guests to understand who we’re gossiping about without knowing the other members.
3. Use acronyms profusely. Let them know that the ACD will be held in the PLC but the time is TBD. They’ll be impressed with your command of your congregation’s secret language.
2. Don’t invite a guest to Bible Study or an upcoming event. Certainly don’t offer to take them to lunch! That would be too forward.
1. Ask them to complete the membership form. Remind them if you sign up two people this week you’re name will be placed in a drawing for a free iPad Mini.
Note: If you’re serious about extending hospitality, hopefully you’ll do just the opposite of what’s suggested above. If there’s someone in your congregation that you don’t know, find ways to turn this acquaintance into a friend by practicing caring conversations.