Offering Thorough Onsite Hospitality Inside and Outside

Sometimes we think about hospitality and we limit ourselves sometimes to what it actually entails.  We often limit hospitality to greeters at the worship door and offering some coffee.  Indeed, these are great steps and we want to offer these acts of hospitality.  But this is simply the beginning not the full hospitality experience we want and frankly need to offer.

There is a level of hospitality that people come to expect – the bare minimum.  These minimums include someone (or several people) offering a greeting and a beverage.  It would include expectations of a pleasant experience.  Unfortunately, the church often stops there and believe they are offering an extravagant experience.  This is the starting place, but it is only meeting the bare minimum expectation of most people and most likely your first-time guest.

Think about your own personal expectations.  When you patronize a restaurant, what are your expectations?  Most would expect an experience to include such things as finding a convenient place to park, a greeting at the door, being seated promptly, offered a menu and beverage upon being seated, a good menu selection, a friendly and attentive server, to be served our selected entrée in a timely manner, for our drinks to be refilled promptly, for the check to be provided at the appropriate time, etc.  These are all just bare minimum expectations of a dining experience.  This speaks nothing to an experience that exceeds expectations.  When expectations are exceeded people return and recommend.

What does it mean to exceed expectations for church hospitality?  First there needs to be a culture of hospitality throughout the congregation.  We can’t leave this to only a team.  While a designated team may be the primary points of contact, a culture of hospitality is felt and reverberated throughout the experience.  (See Clip In by Ozier.)  Next, hospitality starts before a first-time guest ever leaves their home.  It starts with the church’s online presence.  Is your website and social media poised to help a first-time guest feel welcome and prepare them for the experience?

Upon arrival, how does directional signage help a guest find the facility and parking?  Is there dedicated guest parking?  Is the entrance clearly marked and easy to find?  Who is offering a greeting in the parking lot?  At the exterior door(s)?  Once a guest comes through the entrance, is interior signage available to help them find restrooms, the worship space, and the children’s ministry area?  Is a guest greeted as they enter the worship space?  What is the pre-worship experience like for a guest?  Are they being included in what is happening around them?  Are they comfortable?  Feeling excluded?  How is a guest included or excluded in what announcements are made?  Is the bulletin guest-friendly or more insider focused?  If your church conducts a meet and greet, how does this make a guest feel – comfortable or uncomfortable?  What happens after worship?  How is a guest involved in further conversations and offered possible next steps in relationship and ministry?

Hospitality is multi-layered for sure!  However, this is one of the most important factors in making a great guest first-impression and helping them feel comfortable and at ease.  Hospitality can make or break the rest of the worship experience for a guest.

How would you rate your church’s hospitality?  How would a guest rate your church’s hospitality?  If you would like a hospitality impression from a guest, consider a mystery worshiper program to evaluate your church’s hospitality.  For more information: