If you missed yesterday’s opening chapter, this week is devoted to a series for college ministers AND their students on being good “hosts” at the front door of our ministries. Another series – with some great principles for your student leaders and small group leaders – can be found here. (But if you’re in the Exploring College Ministry with Benson group, you already know about it!)
Two ideas today can really help us get our Front Door Hospitality off on the right foot:
outcome-based hospitality (or is that redundant?)
It’s absolutely necessary that our attempts at Hospitality – via a “Greeting Team,” a core of students encouraged to catalyze connections, or even just our own efforts as college ministers – start with determining what we’re hoping to accomplish.
And really, isn’t that always required to be truly “hospitable”? Doesn’t a good host have to begin – in some sense – with the end in mind? Whether it’s comfort or information or healing or entertainment, any sort of host aims toward very specific targets for their guests. And the host’s success isn’t evaluated on anything but those targets.
So if we’re going to be great at Front Door Hospitality, that will begin in earnest once – and only once – we’ve defined our aims. In some college ministries, that may be a slew of outcomes: guests feeling welcomed, their names being learned, guests putting on a nametag, guests coming into contact with three friendly people, guests learning certain things about the ministry, guests providing contact info, guests being pointed to a next step, and so on.
In other ministries, there may be fewer aims. But either way, the question is: Have you specifically defined the outcomes you’re aiming for with your “Hospitality Team” (whoever that may be)?
If you haven’t heard, there are some great opportunities for students AND college ministers at this year’s Catalyst Conference! Students can get training AND receive college credit, and I’ve organized a Cohort for College Ministers that’s going to be a blast!
all hands on deck
The more people you can get involved in “hosting” others, the better.
For one thing, all (or most) core students should have this assignment for the Large Group Meeting. Staff, too, should try to have finished all the last-minute details well before start time – so they can be connecting with people.
But during the course of the evening, others should be “drafted.” Probably most or all of your regulars and volunteers – even the most introverted – will be perfectly great hosts… IF somebody intentionally introduces them to a visitor. So as you have opportunity, it’s perfectly okay – even wise – to “hand them off” by connecting them with one of the regulars (or a group). (And this all increases the number of friendly people the visitor meets!) Obviously, you don’t want to do this in an unnatural or dismissive way, but in a way that connects people and builds community.
Another helpful mandate that some college ministries use is the “5-minute rule” following the meeting. Student leaders (or even all regulars) are “required” to spend the first 5 minutes after the Large Group talking with people they don’t know. (Yes – even if they’re on the Large Group clean-up crew.) The 5-Minute Rule could also be applied when people first arrive at the meeting, too.
Finally, one other way to get more hands on deck is to get core students to come early. If every “regular” saw their start time as 15 minutes before the official start time, your potential for hospitality would increase dramatically, right?
Part three of this series – “Quarterbacks and Not Only the Lonely” – can be found here!