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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In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright
"While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
— Ken
Thank you for this article! I'm the pastor of a small church. My gifting is in teaching and we are known for aiding Christians in becoming Biblically literate. Visitor's often comment on God's presence being very real in our services. But we just don't seem to be growing. I have some soul-searching, etc. to do and this article provides some solid ground from which to proceed. Thank you again.
— Jonathan Schultheis

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