5 barriers to extending hospitality

By Jim LaDoux
Congregations can put all the right systems in place, such as training greeters, providing great refreshments, and having a welcome center, but if there is still no relational warmth beyond volunteers greeters and ushers, guests will experience a “disconnect” and will respond accordingly. Listed below are common barriers that hinder a congregation’s best hospitality efforts. Which barriers exist in your setting?

BARRIER 1 | Cliques among members
  • Members don’t notice OR acknowledge guests.
  • Members are friendly only with each other, not to newcomers.
  • Members are overly focused on catching up with their closest friends.
  • Members only greet and befriend guests when they're assigned to do so.

BARRIER 2 | NO vision for EXTENDING hospitality
  • Members do not view extending hospitality as being core to the Gospel message.
  • Members do not view extending hospitality as a spiritual practice.
  • Members do not extend hospitality beyond  the worship experience.
  • Members the don't understand the difference between being a “friendly” church versus  being a church that befriends people in ways that turn strangers into friends.

BARRIER 3 | Members DON't take personal ownership for welcoming guests
  • Members/leaders do not personally greet people they haven't met before.
  • Members do not introduce themselves to people who are seated near them.
  • Members are not challenged to move beyond their comfort zones by leaders. 
  • Church leaders do not remind members that they are part of the hospitality team.

BARRIER 4 | Lack of volunteers in key ministry areas
  • Churches lack volunteers who organize and oversee hospitality ministries.
  • Churches lack volunteers who invite members to serve in  hospitality ministries.
  • Churches lack volunteers who equip and onboard greeters, ushers, etc.
  • Churches fail to equip teachers, worship leaders, and custodians to extend hospitality.

BARRIER 5 | NO PLAN for connecting guests to the congregation & Its ministries
  • Most churches lack of a detailed assimilation process.
  • Leaders don't regularly invite guests to participate in the church's mission and ministries.
  • Leaders do not seek to engage with guests beyond the worship experience.
  • Leaders do not  track guest engagement or share guest information with ministry leaders.


1. Which of the 5  barriers are prevalent in your congregation?
2. What might your congregation do differently in the future?
3. What might YOU do differently in the future?
4. What resources are needed to address the hospitality challenges you are facing?

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