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How to Say Hello–3 Practical Ways to Greet Your Guests

welcome sign for front door

I recently revamped the front entrance to our home. I bought a new doormat and new pillows for the bench, and spruced up a wreath for the door.  Then I did something I’ve never done before… I hung up a sign to greet visitors with large letters that say, “WELCOME.”  (As an introvert, it should more accurately say, “Welcome… unless my people meter is low.  Then, not so much.” But that wouldn’t fit on a sign.)

It’s easy for guests at my home to know the way in.  There is a clearly marked driveway for parking, an easily accessible front door (which is also the only entrance), and chances are, I will be there to show them our foyer with a visible bathroom just to their left. If you are visiting my house for the first time, you will have no problems knowing where to go.

Wouldn’t it be great if visitors to our churches could have that same experience? In this week’s episode of the Replant Bootcamp podcast, Jimbo and Bob tackle the unique challenges (and advantages!) normative size churches face when implementing a hospitality team.

Greeting Starts at the Door– But Which One?

multiple doors

When we started at Central Baptist, one of the first things we noticed was how many different ways there are to get into the building.  We have a front entrance that faces the road– but that’s not the “typical” entrance, because using it would actually place you coming into the back of the church.  That entrance made sense when everyone walked to church and there was only one part of the building– the sanctuary and classrooms underneath.  But an addition long ago placed parking behind the church and made a new, single-door entrance.  This entrance would take you through our old classrooms which were no longer in use and up a set of narrow stairs to the sanctuary, where you come in to the side of the platform.  A third addition in the 90s added a fellowship hall and wing which created a new, double door entrance that allowed access to the nursery and childrens’ areas and stairwell access to the upper level and the sanctuary.

It was a maze to navigate– and that was AFTER you’d made it through the dilapidated, weed-infested parking lot with the faded white lines which made it impossible to know exactly where you should park.

We had a few guests that actually left before ever getting inside because they just found the whole building impossible to navigate.  When we hosted events at the church, people would genuinely get lost inside the corridors, hallways, and stairwells. Guests coming to the church were likely to wind up in an old, dusty flower closet wearing a choir robe from 1972 only to be found during a church clean up day several weeks later.

Ok, not really… But we  realized we had a problem, and it was one of the first steps toward revitalization that we needed to take:  We needed a clearly identified entrance.

The first thing we did was redo the church’s signage.  We purchased a large banner for the road-facing entrance of the church.  It can be changed out seasonally and can highlight special events like Vacation Bible School or Christmas and Easter services. We also purchased signage to show where visitors can park, and repaved the parking lot to make it simpler. Then we put up a large sandwich board style sign that welcomed everyone toward the double door entrance.

Once inside, we used clearly identifying signs to funnel people toward children’s areas, the sanctuary, and the restrooms, as needed. We made coming to our church as easy to navigate as coming to our house.

Unfortunately, great signage and great directions don’t always equal a successful greeter experience. To make people feel welcome, you can’t just show them the way in– you have to have people who make them feel at home.

We needed a greeter ministry or hospitality team to guide people to the right place once inside.  Fortunately, our smaller church had an advantage in this area: First, it was easy to identify who was new.  One look across our congregation could inform us of any new faces.  Second, in a smaller church, everyone is a greeter!

Develop a Friendly Greeter Ministry

In the podcast, Bob stated, “People want to be welcomed and wanted, but not watched.” When we are thinking about the experience of a first time guest at our church, we need to ask ourselves this question from Jimbo: What does our church communicate about who we are and what we believe is important? From the parking lot, to the welcome desk or area, to the service itself, we are communicating a message to a first time guest.  It needs to be a good one!

In the first few minutes of our service we typically go over our welcome and announcements. In those first few moments, first-time guests are mentally deciding whether or not they’ll return for a second visit. Are your announcements about upcoming committee meetings?  Community outreach projects?  Future children’s events?  Adult Bible Study and Discipleship opportunities?  What does your first few moments of service tell a first-time guest about what your church thinks is important? 

What about the rest of the service?  Are you joyful in worship?  Is there excitement about being in the house of God?  We know that corporate worship is integral to the discipleship and growth of the believer, and we know that there is great benefit to joining other believers in weekly fellowship. So how are we communicating that importance to our members and our guests?  

Some churches feel passionately about an order of worship and a bulletin.  Others have done away with them completely.  The truth is, there isn’t a right or wrong answer for whether or not your church should or shouldn’t have them.  One thing is clear–for a visitor, there is so much value and security in knowing what’s coming next.  

I recently visited a church where my daughter serves while she is away at college.  This church is a very large church of a different denomination than what I currently attend.  The opportunity to be a “first-time guest” allowed me to really experience for myself the discomfort of unfamiliar places and faces.  One thing they did well was to have a QR code for me to scan for the order of worship.  I was able to quietly look at a bulletin and know when we would be reading scripture, what songs we would sing, when children were dismissed, and they even designated when to stand and when to sit for each part with a small asterisk. It made the experience so much easier.

One thing they also did well was their time of “fellowship.” This was a time to look around and greet unfamiliar faces and also to catch up with each other.  As I mentioned above, I am an introvert– I want to go in my shell and peep out when I’m comfortable.  This time can be really hard for me, especially in the middle of a service where I am already feeling very awkward. But instead of a meet and greet in the middle of the service, they offered for any guests to step into a small room off from the lobby and meet the pastor and his wife at the end of service if they chose to. They offered beverages and small snacks, and several friendly members stayed as well and said hello.

This church had clearly taken time to develop a culture of hospitality, and it made a difference in my experience as a guest. What efforts have you made to cultivate an environment where the guests to your church leave feeling cared for and considered?

Greeting that Goes Further than the Front Door

a word wall with welcome, hello, hi, etc greetings

Every first-time guest is not just a visitor–they are a potential family member.  We view our church as our family, so each person who visits is someone who we hope will eventually become a sister or brother in this family of believers we call Central Baptist.  The gospel gives everyone a place to belong.

In order for your greeting to extend past the front door, you must be willing to invest time and energy into the follow-up for every single guest.  In order to be known for hospitality, you must first learn to be hospitable. (Go figure.)  It isn’t enough to just hand someone a first-time guest gift and say “Hello.” You need to take some time to get to know them.

Many pastors will run themselves to the ground in an effort to follow up with everyone and to engage every guest.  But if you cultivate a culture of hospitality, you can expect your members to help you greet, engage, and follow-up with each visitor.  One way to do this is to encourage your members to share a meal with someone they don’t know or have never shared a meal with–that can be a visitor, but it can also be another member they just don’t know that well.  

Not everyone is gifted in the area of hospitality, but that’s why we “practice” hospitality.  We can always get better at it.  Pair up those people who are naturally gifted at making others feel comfortable with those who aren’t–show them how to engage with others.

Another way to cultivate a culture of hospitality is to give first time guests small gift cards to local eateries or coffee shops. Let them know that you would really like to sit down with them and have a conversation about the church and answer any questions they may have, or they can use it on their own, the choice is theirs.  I’m willing to bet that they will take you up on the offer to sit down and chat! If your church does fellowship dinners for a small fee, offer guests a “free” coupon so that they feel comfortable coming back and being a part of that ministry.

The easiest and perhaps most used way to cultivate hospitality among your members is the card or phone call follow-up.  Handwritten cards are always a nice gesture and feel so much more sincere than a formatted letter.  (Jimbo recommends the Felt App for this purpose.) Do you have some members for whom a shared meal would be difficult?  They would be great assets to use for card writing or simple follow up phone calls to welcome guests!

In order to be a church where guests turn into members, you must take the time to reflect on what message your church sends to each visitor that comes through your (well-marked, easily identifiable!) door.

Next Steps

Hopefully you now see the importance of starting a new (or adjusting your existing) greeter ministry.  Some easy, practical next steps to take are:

  1. Ask an outsider to perform a “mystery shop”– this can be a friend, coworker, or neighbor whose opinion you respect.  Ask them to assess what it’s like to be a first time guest at your church.  What are their first impressions?  What message did they leave with?  Did they notice anything out of place or confusing?  It can be easy to overlook our own flaws, that’s why we need an outside perspective on them.
  2. Take some time to polish your welcome and announcements time.  Find a way to communicate an invitation for everyone and an orientation for guests. Make sure you’re giving your congregation guidance on the importance of Sunday morning worship and also what comes next. If something is different on a specific Sunday that will change the normal order or worship, explain that and give people the security to know what comes next.
  3. Find your greeters and your hospitality people– you’ll know them.  These members always know who’s having surgery, who’s child is heading to college, who recently experienced a job change, who has moved.  They know these things because they know people.  They are excited to spend time with people and they enjoy meeting new people.
  4. Come to the Replant Summit to get ideas from others!  If you want practical tips for people who have been where you are, you NEED to register and attend the Replant Summit in Atlanta August 28-29.  There is no better opportunity to meet fellow replanters who are in the trenches with you.  This is the retreat and refresh your ministry needs!

EPISODE #73 – ENGAGE YOUR COMMUNITY

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Replant Bootcamp
EPISODE #73 - ENGAGE YOUR COMMUNITY
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Don’t let 2021 overwhelm you, stay with the basics, the irreducible minimums of ministry and take joy in leading your congregation and loving your people.  The guys are back at it, discussing how you can excel at Engaging the Community.  (also Jimbo shares a pretty incredible story right up front)

Personal

  • To engage the community you have to love the community – to grow in your love for the community you have to be in the community
  • Get involved and go to the civic events, parades, sports events etc
  • Go to the coffee shops, diners, firehouses, feed stores-get out and be a part of the community

Interpersonal

  • Get to know the people right around your church.
  • Engage your neighborhood, invite people over for time around the firepit
  • Throw a neighborhood party
  • Set up in a coffee shop-put out a sign letting people know you are willing to pray for them.

Team

  • Engage the community together as a small group or church
  • Trunk or Treat at the Elementary School
  • Serve a youth sports team

Organizationally

  • Serve in the community as a church-get out and serve on others turf not your own
  • Cast a strong vision for your church members to engage in whatever arena they are active in
  • Serve a like minded organization
  • Serve with your city by engaging with the city leaders.

 

The Art of Neighboring by Jay Pathick and Dave Runyon

The Gospel Comes with a House Key by Rosaria Butterfield

Four Fold Panorama by Keelan Cook

 

Fun Links

King of the Hill

What’s Cookin’

 

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Episode #43 – The Heart of a Replanter: Gospel Orientation, Missional Focus, Emotional Intelligence, and Spousal Perseverance

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Episode #43 - The Heart of a Replanter: Gospel Orientation, Missional Focus, Emotional Intelligence, and Spousal Perseverance
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Jimbo is back from vacay and the guys break down the characteristics of a Replanter under the category of heart of a Replanter. Stay tuned all the way through from some helpful nuggets and book recommendations by the guys at the end of the podcast.

  • Gospel Orientation refers to aligning the culture and practice of the church in such a way that the core doctrine of the gospel drives its mission and practice in preaching, managing conflict, and leading organizational change.
  • Replanters with a Missional Focus make it a priority to equip and mobilize the congregation to live their life on mission in their community and beyond for the sake of Christ and his gospel.
  • Emotional Intelligence is “the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s own emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.”
  • Spousal Perseverance: The replanter’s wife possesses a love for Jesus and the Church. She is emotionally and spiritually prepared for the challenges that come with replanting a dying church.

Replanter are you married?  Encourage your spouse to join the private Facebook group by emailing replantwives@gmail.com

The guys recommend you and your wife consider Christian counseling, if you need help feel free to email us and request some recommendations.

Here are some helpful book recommendations to study more on these topics.

Center Church by Tim Keller

Missional Renaissance by Reggie McNeal

The Gospel Comes with a House Key by Rosaria Butterfield

No Silver Bullets by Daniel IM

The Gospel Driven Church by Jared C. Wilson

Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome by Kent Hughes

Future Church by Will Mancini  (coming December 1, 2020)

Need a great website? Check out our sponsor oneeighty.digital

Episode #24 – ?Jason Rumbough Boots on the Ground Highlight?

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Episode #24 - ?Jason Rumbough Boots on the Ground Highlight?
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**Show Note** Early Wednesday morning East Nashville TN was it with a severe tornado. Many business and homes in the area were impacted, 24 lives were lost and the community is in great need. Jason’s church, Hope Church was undamaged yet just blocks from the church the damage was severe.  Pray for Jason and his church as they provide much needed support, care and the hope of the Gospel to those impacted by this storm.

Here are some of the show highlights

Jason Rumbough is the Replant Pastor of Hope Church Nashville, a Replant from Eastland Baptist Church

Eastland Baptist Church was 106 years old, down to 40 people, average age of the congregation was 72 years.

As a Replant from within, this is the most difficult type of Replant.

One Sunday, the attendance was 13, six of which were Jason’s family. This was a low point and also a turning point.

Things began to turn around-God began brining people to the church, assembling a team of unlikely people who formed the Replanting core group.

Jason began doing the work of an Evangelist, people came to faith and the Church has grown.

In a Replant people may not know exactly what the Gospel means, how it informs us and how it leads us on mission. It’s important define the Gospel.

When you preach the Gospel, people may leave.

Replanting from within is difficult, it’s hard. One of the things that helps, is being honest about where you are with yourself and the church.

One of the long time members at Eastland said: “I knew we needed to change, I just didn’t know it would be this hard.”

Advice to Replanters: Love your people, preach the gospel, take care of your family.

The Soda Parlor

Burger Up

Need a website?  Checkout the great resources from our great sponsor, oneeighty.church

Episode #14 – Dealing with Church Debt in a Replant with Boots on the Ground Guest Kyle Bueerman

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Episode #14 - Dealing with Church Debt in a Replant with Boots on the Ground Guest Kyle Bueerman
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Pastor Kyle Bueermann, First Baptist Church Alamogordo NM

Background: Kyle was called to Replant/Revitalize a church with 60 people that was in 900K in debt.

Q: How do you deal with debt in a Replant?

Be certain of your call: the call to Replant a church is a necessity-especially when that church is in a difficult situation.

Commit to the church: Kyle says; “We bought a house to show the congregation that we were all in, we put ourselves on the line, I knew I needed to do that so I wouldn’t have an out.”

Find/Partner with a friendly lender and communicate with them regularly. FBC had the benefit of their note being with their denominational lender.

Be open and honest about your situation with those who are coming to be part of your church.

Look for ways to reduce your debt: we’ve been praying and seeking sell our land but also exercising patience.

Steady consistent and faithful leadership is important to create a positive attitude and culture among your people.

We are confident that God is not surprised by our circumstances-and we’re trusting him to provide and lead.

Define Reality and provide hope, and understand the thing that brings hope is the Gospel.

Be patient-in a Replant nothing happens fast.

 

Links

Not Another Baptist Podcast

Replanting Rural Churches

Wiley Drake

Ed Ogeron

Arkansas vs. LSU 2019

Episode #12 – Redeeming a Church’s Bad Reputation with BOOTS ON THE GROUND GUEST Carey Long

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Replant Bootcamp
Episode #12 - Redeeming a Church's Bad Reputation with BOOTS ON THE GROUND GUEST Carey Long
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Carey Long, Pastor, Northside Baptist Church, Slidell LA

Q:  What are some practical ways we can help change our church’s reputation/image in the community?

This is a complicated and layered question.

A bad reputation is not built, nor is it fixed overnight.

Discover/Ask: what has our church done that has created a bad reputation in the community?

A way to learn what the community thinks of your church: FourFold Panoramic Assessment by Keelan Cook

Ask the community: “If our church was to be an asset to this community what could we do?”

Consider your church’s history: repent and make reconciliation where possible.

Own and repent of past sins.

Process with your people the findings of your community assessments about your church’s reputation.

A name change is not a strategy to jettison your church’s bad reputation.

Keeping the name is at times, a more powerful picture of the Gospel and the power of forgiveness and redemption Jesus brings to us and the church.

Salvation doesn’t erase our past, it changes it.

Changing a church’s reputation involves changing the church’s culture.

The Pastor’s leadership is key in helping to change the church’s reputation.  

Pastoral involvement in the community along with some church members is key.  As your people engage in the community people get a new image and experience with your church.

Utilize your church’s facilities to bless the community.

Changing the image or reputation of your church takes a long time.

At times, you may need to help correct mis-information about your church in the community proactively.

Let God be your defender, it’s His church.

You will rarely win over the critics who will not engage with you.  You can win over the folks who will interact with you as you patiently help them see what God is doing in your church.

Seek the welfare of the community: Jeremiah 29:7

Engage your community with no-strings attached.

 

 

Episode #9 – The Luter Replant Legacy Part 1 with Dr. Fred Luter (Boots on the Ground Highlight)

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Episode #9 - The Luter Replant Legacy Part 1 with Dr. Fred Luter (Boots on the Ground Highlight)
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This is the first episode of a 2-part ? BOOTS ON THE GROUND HIGHLIGHT ?about Dr. Fred Luter Jr. and his son Fred “Chip” Luter III. In part 1 we will hear from Dr. Fred about his replanting journey at Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans and in part 2 we will hear from Chip and his journey to replanting with Idlewild in Tampa.

Dr. Fred Luter starting pastoring Franklin Avenue Baptist church 33 years ago when most people suspected the church was about to die. Local ministry leaders even told Pastor Fred that he was the wrong choice and he just needed to bury the church. Years later Franklin Avenue is a powerful testimony to God’s faithfulness through Dr. Fred who eventually became the first African-American President of the Southern Baptist Convention.

33 years of pastoral ministry has given Pastor Fred some great wisdom and we are excited to share it with you. Here are a few highlights:

  • The key to pastoral ministry is faithfulness to who God has called you to be and where he has called you to serve.
  • One of the greatest challenges in many dying churches is to remind them that the WORD of GOD works. Pastors must be faithful to the Word.
  • Replanters must be VISIONARY SHEPHERDS that have TACTICAL PATIENCE: Pastor Fred shares about taking 2-3 years to move Franklin Avenue from funding their church through selling chicken suppers to faithful and biblical giving.
  • Replanters must have a MISSIONAL FOCUS and GOSPEL ORIENTATION: Fred shares how he had a creative and missional strategy to engage the men in his community that were not coming to church through watching a pay-per-view boxing match. He then followed this up with personal evangelism and discipleship.
  • Replanters must make their families a priority. Pastor Fred has held hard to regular time off on a weekly basis to invest in his marriage and his kids.

Vocabulary word of the day –  Lagniappe

If you enjoyed this episode please share it with your friends, subscribe to the podcast on your favorite podcast platform, and leave us a rating.

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