Today is Part 3 of the Front Door Hospitality series, for college ministers and students focused on connections, greeting, or other hospitality! To see all the posts in the series, click here.
On an unrelated noted, I’m flying today to the NC Triangle area! If you wanna pray for my trip, it’d be much appreciated!
not the action, but the outcome
This idea is an important corollary to yesterday‘s first principle:
What the host “does” isn’t the important thing; the OUTCOME of our actions is key.
In the first section yesterday, I wrote about potential goals for the “Connecting Team” (or whatever your campus ministry calls it). To start, I wrote “guests feeling welcomed” in the list. But I could have written simply “greeting guests,” right? Isn’t that a more natural way to say it?
But of course “greeting people” is not our aim! To say our job is to “greet guests” is like saying a quarterback’s job is to “throw passes”; his job, like ours, is focused on reception. His job is to complete passes.
We’re all tempted to assume our college ministry job is simply to “do actions”; in Hospitality, that might mean greeting people, giving information, smiling, talking, handing out a calendar, whatever. “Get out there and greet as many visitors as you can,” we tell our teams… without ever contemplating that there’s a difference between greeting someone and that same someone feeling “greeted.”
If a visitor doesn’t feel welcomed, then I’ve failed – even if, indeed, I “greeted them.” If they don’t remember information, then what good is it that I’ve given them info? If my smiling or questions or other greetings seem insincere… creepy… forced, then have I really hosted them well?
If we treat Hospitality as a set of actions, we’ve already failed to care for real people. If, instead, we see this as a chance to help real people feel something, know something, and/or do something, then we’re truly being hosts. (Look back at yesterday’s list of possible aims, and you’ll see – they’re all about the outcome!)
not only the lonely (or the new)
Our job as Hosts extends to everybody who arrives at our Front Door. The outcomes we’re aiming for may be different for a new person than for a regular, for a Senior vs. a Freshman, for a group of people vs. a student arriving alone.
But we need to show hospitality toward all of them.
Hopefully we’re past showing preferential treatment to the Big Man on Campus or the Student Who Is a Lot Like Me. (If we’re not, read James 2.) But we need to consider that every student who shows up deserves to be encouraged, exhorted, made to feel welcome, or otherwise hosted. This includes the gal who’s already a core part of our ministry. The group of guys who all come together. Even the college ministry staff might need a little hospitality sometimes!
Of course, it’s good and right that our radars are especially attuned to the students who come by themselves and the students who are new to our ministry (or new to campus altogether). But my encouragement today is to make sure there’s an action plan for the rest of ’em, too. We have a beautiful opportunity to host, and the more we host well, the better!