Every Weekend Matters: 6 Strategies for Holiday Hospitality

We’re barely ankle deep into the summer season around these parts. The mountains and beaches are calling, and people are responding. (Side note: mountain people? I love you. Let’s hang out more. Beach people? I pray for you. And for your sunburned, dehydrated, squinty, sweaty, sand-covered bodies. Maybe we can be better friends at heaven where there’s no more beach.)

But I digress. If you’re in charge of the hospitality or guest services team at your church, chances are good that you are already feeling the pinch of summer. Whether your volunteers have fled to high ground or sandy shores or Disney or Great Wolf Lodge, you’re worried that there won’t be adequate coverage to make it to September. The only problem is that while your volunteers may take some down time, your guests won’t. Their version of down time will likely be checking out your church for the first time.

So how do you balance the drought of vols with the influx of guests? Here are six strategies to cope:

1. Refuse to relax your standards. The easiest thing to do is to clock out of excellence for the summer. Drop a team here. Do without a volunteer there. However, that leaves your guests with a less-than-ideal experience. While your overall team numbers might be down, your campus coverage shouldn’t be. As you start the summer season, continue to think from the perspective of your guests and fight for their comfort. Related posts: Four Ways to Stay Alert. Why Outside Greeters Are More Important Than Inside Greeters.

2. Get on your vols’ schedule. True, there are some people who decide to head out for a weekend getaway at the very last minute. But for the majority of people on your team, they’ve had vacation on their schedules for months. That makes it easy for them to get their vacation on your schedule, as well. Shoot a quick email to your team and ask them to let you know the weekends they’ll be out of town. That quick memory jog will keep you from a lot of surprises later this summer.

3. Go after your one-offs. Summer is a great time to ask people to serve who normally don’t. Ask people to fill in for a couple of weekends with no pressure to do anything else. Give them an easy win – mixed with low commitment – and watch the gaps get filled in. (And who knows? You might just end up with a new vol who didn’t know how much they loved serving others.)

4. Make it a team effort. Go after your Sunday School classes and small groups and encourage them to take one Sunday out of class to serve as a team. This can be a healthy break in their normal routine and help them have an others-focus.

5. Help them beat the heat. For those who are serving, keep in mind the uncomfortable conditions they’ll endure. Send reminders to your outdoor people to bring caps and sunglasses. Provide water, Gatorade, and sunscreen. Surprise them at summer’s end with a visit from the ice cream truck. Rotate them often so they’re not in the elements too long.

6. Send them off with a smile. Do not. I repeat: do not make your vols feel guilty for taking a break. In fact, you should make sure that everyone has at least a couple of weekends off during the summer, even if they’re not traveling anywhere. We don’t do our teams any favors when we lord over them like taskmasters. Rather, push them to enjoy some Sabbath time. That’ll pay off in long-term loyalty.

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Danny Franks

Danny Franks

Danny Franks makes his living as a Connections Pastor at the Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. He also makes a life as the husband of an out-of-his-league hottie and the dad of three cool sons and one sweet princess. His blog, dfranks.com, is a reflection of how he interacts with all of these.

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Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
— Debra
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
— Laurie
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)

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