Lousy hospitality seems rampant at churches.  We hate it when we see it in other churches, but we don’t seem to be able to address it in our own.

We live in a time when even churches get rated on the internet.  Of course, word of mouth always has been and always will be the ultimate evaluation tool.  How many stars does your church get for hospitality?

Here’s the problem from one church I have experienced.  It is a large church.  It got big in the good old days when everyone went to church.  But it is easy to lose perspective, especially in a large church when you have lots of people and don’t really notice those leaving or not returning.

I went to this church because I have family members who go there.  We get to the door.  There is no one to greet us.  We see a dark sanctuary straight ahead.  There is no clear way to proceed.  Most people would just turn around at this point.  But we hear voices around a corner.  We go down a hallway where there is a door with a bulletin delivery person – okay, they did say “good morning.”

It seems that the “contemporary worship” meets in the fellowship hall.  Who knew?  I didn’t, like any guest wouldn’t.  The acoustics were terrible since the room was essentially a gymnasium.  The place echoed so badly you couldn’t understand the speakers.  We sat in back.  We couldn’t see anything.  There was a children’s sermon where the pastor sat down in front with the kids.  It was like listening to radio – which we couldn’t understand because of the acoustics.  There was projection, but no live feed which would have allowed us to see what was happening.

The people of this church didn’t have a clue.  They thought everything was great.  It is a curious thing about human nature.  We get accustomed to a setting.  Our house may be cluttered, but we don’t see it.  Guests do, however.  The same is true with the House of God.  What is the best way to start looking at this issue?

Bring in a person who has never been to your church.  The business world calls this a secret shopper.  Pay them something to come and experience your church without telling anyone about the person’s real reason for being there.  Then debrief right away.  Take them to lunch or sit down with leaders of the church.  Let the person tell the story.  You’ll probably be surprised and a bit embarrassed – maybe a tad angry and defensive (set that aside).  Then train some key people from what you learn.

The reality is that most first time guests decide whether they are willing to return in just the first seven minutes.  The impressive sermon hasn’t even happened yet.  You aren’t going to get an opportunity to share Jesus with people unless you show Jesus to them.  It is simple to show Biblical hospitality to the stranger if you are willing to give up first place at the table of God.

Are you willing to share the story of your church and how you enhanced your hospitality ministry?  Leave your comment below.

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