When we think of the word “hospitality” we think of the way in which we serve people. There is an entire industry related to hospitality, from hotels and event planners to meals, transportation, and entertainment. It is a service we provide to others that allows them to enjoy the space.
So where does hospitality begin on in our ministries? It happens long before the events and studies that make up our ministry calendar.
It begins with a warm welcome.
Women who are visiting your church for the first time, either for a Sunday Service or Women’s Ministry event, need to feel welcome in the space from the moment they arrive. What can we do as ministry leaders to ensure our guests feel welcome?
An Easy to Navigate Space: Your visitor needs easy access to parking, clear signage on where to enter the building for the service/event, and signs or people to guide them once in side. Several years ago, I attended an event at a local church. This church had multiple buildings and parking lots. There was not a single sign that indicated which parking lot entrance to use, or which building the event was being held in. During the lunch break, there was an announcement on where the lunch was being served without any direction at all. There was almost an assumption that everyone at the event either attended the church or was a guest of someone attending, and could find their own way. They forgot that this event was also publicized on the radio and on the website for the larger ministry hosting events nationwide.
Never assume your church or even location is easy to navigate, just because it makes sense to you. Always assume that your guests will need signs or people to help them find their way to the main spaces, bathrooms, event spaces, child care, etc.
Easy Access to Information: Some guests are very eager to meet people, and not afraid to ask a million questions. Your more introverted guests will be more timid. By ensuring that the basic information on the women’s ministry is listed in the New Guest packet, you are extending an invitation to women to find out more. If you have an information desk or wall, where ministries can post more detailed information, having a sign or invitation cards for your next event will make sure guests know they are welcome to your events. This also includes having information about your women’s ministry on your church website.
At minimum, guests should be able to have access to the contact information for the women’s ministry, current Bible Studies or Small Groups, and information on your upcoming event(s). Also consider having an occasionally informal breakfast to get to know new women in the church. This doesn’t need to be a potluck brunch, but could be at a local restaurant where everyone pays for their own meal.
When we make sure to let women know they are welcome at our next event, they know that we are not a closed clique of women but rather a group with arms opened wide.
Help Her Meet People: Guests, particularly returning guests, will want to get to know more women in the church. Too often, it’s easy to fall back on the “stand up and introduce yourself to the group” activity. However this can be overwhelming for the introvert, and frankly even with the best of effort… it’s hard to remember all these new names and facts. Instead, use the women’s ministry team to divide and conquer introducing new women ot the rest of the body. If each women’s ministry team member takes time to get to know these new guests individually, they can then make very intentional introductions to members in the body who share similar interests, have children of the same ages, etc.
This far more intentional introductions will actually help foster relationships and is a warmer welcome than throwing the woman into the spotlight before a large group.
Hospitality Never Ends: Being hospital as guests walk through your doors for the first time is just the beginning. Hospitality is something that continues on as part of our ministry work. We are hospitable when we open our homes to small groups and playdates, when we answer calls and take time to get to know people better, and into our events as we make sure that everyone feels wanted and welcome. When hospitality drops off, it can make our guests feel as if our initial welcoming was superficial or short lived. Hospitality is a long term culture that needs to be cultivated and fostered.
Look for your women who have the gift of Hospitality, and bring them into your women’s ministry team to lay the foundation. If you are a large church, you may wish to create a welcoming committee. Otherwise, these women will be valuable additions to your team as they advise you about how to make sure your women’s ministry program and events are warm and welcoming to all who walk through the doors.