7 Things Churches Need To Know About Welcoming Guests

This week I got to spend Spring Break in Amish Country, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  I know, not exactly the beach, but this is our 20th wedding anniversary and a gift for my wife who is fascinated by the Amish people.

The best part of this week has been staying at a local bed and breakfast called The Historic Smithton Inn operated by Innkeeper Rebecca Gallagher.  If you’re ever passing through central PA, I can’t recommend this location enough.  Just click on their name for more information.

My family and I have never been treated so well.  This vacation has taught me a lot about what churches could be doing to make their guests feel welcome and cared for.  There is a difference in hosting people in your church and simply having them.

  1. Responsiveness/Answer The Phone – There was much literature available for places to stay in this area.  However, when I called the Smithton, I immediately spoke with Rebecca who I found to be very informative, pleasant, and made me want to come here.  Whether it’s your website, street sign, grounds, or the person answering the phone, please remember that first impressions matter and that you never have to recover from a good start.
  2. Follow Up – She stated she would send me material to further show what my family could expect.  Four days later it arrived in my mailbox.  This told me it was a professional operation.  Not following through, returning phone calls, or properly fulfilling promises communicates a lack of excellence at your church.
  3. Know The Entire (Church) Community Well – Once we arrived, we were told the best places to eat, the best attractions, and were provided easy-to-use maps to get us there.  They made sure the entire experience would be the best we could possibly have.  Does the people at your Welcome Desks or information counters know the best parts about your entire ministry?  Can they tell a first time visitor how they can have the best Sunday morning experience possible?  Are they experts?
  4. Special Touches – Little things matter a great deal.  Having fresh cookies in the lobby, free movie rentals, snacks in your room, etc.. make a good experience great.  Does your church do the “little things” that make a Sunday morning wonderful?  Does your church have an energetic parking ministry that is warm or helpful?  Do you provide a coffee area?  Is the auditorium clean?  Is it decorated well?  Does the pre-service music help create an attitude of expectation?  Etc…
  5. Do Something Extraordinary – The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is simply a little extra.  When it was learned that we enjoyed a fire at night (it’s still cool in PA), we returned back to the room each day with a fire log waiting on us.  Church leaders, do you know what ministers to your people and proactively meet them at that point of need?
  6. Engage The Children – The best part of the trip was when Rebecca asked our daughter if she wanted to help her in the kitchen as she prepared our breakfast.  My wife took some great pictures!  When you value what I value, especially my daughter, you have captured the heart of my wife and I.
  7. Create Memories – The owners of the Historic Smithton Inn helped ensure this would be a memorable trip.  Pastors and church leaders, are you doing everything you can to help ensure that this Sunday will be a service those in your church could remember for eternity?

Responsiveness, Following Up, Being Knowledgable, Special Touches, Extras, Engaging Children, and Creating Memorable Events.  The Historic Smithton Inn taught me much this week.  There is a difference between having people and hosting them.

Pastors and church leaders, are you hosting people in your church this Sunday or simply having them?

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About Brian Dodd on Leadership

I am a church stewardship and leadership consultant for INJOY Stewardship Solutions. This blog combines my personal passions of church, sports, pop culture and family into a single leadership resource. I trust your time on this site will create conversations and add value to your life.

4 Responses to “7 Things Churches Need To Know About Welcoming Guests”

  1. TeenChallenge3c “@BrianKDodd: 7 Things Churches Need To Know About Welcoming Guests http://t.co/25BB0vD

  2. Mr. Dodd,
    Thank you for your post. Rebecca and Dave are two of my favorite people in the world and you captured their warmth perfectly. You’ve given me a pause for thought… I worked in the Presbyterian church for eight years and lived next door to the Gallaghers for eight years, there’s not doubt in my mind who I’d call on if I was ever really in trouble. I don’t think the Gallaghers realize it, but their ministry is powerful.

  3. Brian,

    Thanks for sharing this. Very helpful.

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