A few months ago I met Pascalyne at my church. It was her third time there and the first time that someone had even talked to her. Sadly, it wasn’t me who first noticed her or approached her. Then, when finally, someone greeted her, they found out that she was from Belgium – that’s when I was introduced and I invited Pascalyne and Patrick for supper at our home. That moment turned a bad church experience (at my church) into a friendship.
I love that the church is turning to hospitality as a way to engage our culture and as a way to demonstrate the Kingdom. Some people are real naturals and as a leader it’s easy to guide a natural. Others need a little more guidance.
Here are some top tips from some really smart Canadian youth workers. (The big ideas were theirs, the notes and explanations are mine).
1. Get to know the five love languages: learning to show hospitality in ways that are valued by our guests.
- Gifts, Time, Affirming Words, Acts of Service, Physical Touch
2. Getting beyond hello at church
- Why not ask someone who’s been trained in customer service to come and talk to your volunteers about how to turn guests into customers and customers into ambassadors.
3. Observation skills
- how can you see people who are new, uncomfortable, or who need help
4. Listening skills
- turn off your phone in a conversation and pay attention
5. Practice courage
- go somewhere you haven’t been, meet someone you haven’t met
6. Show hospitality in your home. Everyday.
7. How can you “see” each person who comes to an event?
- Greet, welcome, smile, handshake, hug, open door, walk with a person to the place they need to get to (bathroom, meeting room)
8. Hospitality has to be about meeting a person where they are, valuing them without agenda or expectations.
- Consider creating or visiting neutral spaces where conversations can easily happen.
- Think of each guest as a VIP or as Jesus himself.
9. Help us to see that all we have is a gift from God. We’re not rich because we deserve it, it’s a mercy of God. Therefore what we have is meant to be shared.
- We’re really quite wealthy here in the west, and it’s not because we deserve it. We will need to answer for how we’ve stewarded this blessing.
10. Tell stories of encountering hospitality
- make sure you tell the messy ones
11. Tell the stories of Christ showing us hospitality.
- Now reflect on how others have shown us hospitality.
12. Live it, don’t preach it.
- Enough said. Let’s go.
Each point is just the beginning, but I think that if we want to have our youth groups, churches, students and worship leaders welcoming people into the Kingdom of God, we’ve got to teach them, show them and help them to do it.
What’s your plan for training the people around you to practice hospitality?