Most churches have made concentrated efforts to improve the ways guests are received. Many now have Hospitality Teams in place. There is a sincere desire to offer a great experience for guests. Yet, there is a disconnect between being friendly and offering extravagant hospitality. Being friendly is a good first impression. Hospitality is helping people feel welcome, comfortable, and that one could actually become part of the community. Extravagant hospitality is exceeding one’s expectations. Those who serve on hospitality teams are probably the folks who really are the ones that like people and have a strong desire for guests to have a good experience when they encounter their church. But often, members of hospitality teams are not always well-equipped for this important frontline ministry. Here are common ways churches screw up guest hospitality:

Ushers Aren’t Integrated as Part of the Hospitality Team

Ushers need to be integrated as part of the hospitality team and not seen as a separate team. Anyone who is on the frontline interacting with guests should be integrated and equipped as part of the hospitality team. If someone is not willing to be trained, they should not be considered for the hospitality team. Expectations around greeting and hospitality have changed over the years, so team members need to be trained and reminded. It takes time to build a culture of hospitality within the hospitality team and within the church as a whole.

Lack of Congregational Culture for Extravagant Hospitality

While the hospitality team is the front line for hospitality, it is imperative to also equip the congregation in becoming welcoming and hospitable. Even if the hospitality team is top-notch, a congregant can ruin a guest experience. This can happen by telling a guest that s/he is sitting in someone’s pew, someone being or doing something rude to a guest, or even looks of judgment can run off a first-time guest.

Friendliness Is Not the End Game, It’s Only the First Step

Hospitality is about first impressions and making people feel welcome. Make sure the experience does not stop there. Helping guests connect relationally is extremely important. If a guest has a great first impression, but can not see how to connect relationally with others, we may not get the opportunity to receive them as a second-time guest. Help guests with relational connection options – not just connections to ministry. Relational connections are why people stick with a church. Is your church friendly? Or is your church practicing extravagant hospitality with an emphasis on relational connections? This distinction is key! To equip your Hospitality Team and others who interact with guests, check out this on-demand Hospitality Webinar.