the chance with each encounter (FDH #5)

The Front Door Hospitality series (which probably concludes tomorrow?) includes ponderings on how we show true Hospitality during the Large Group meeting – and other “front doors” to our college ministries. See the whole series here.

Hospitality isn’t only about making students feel welcome and comfortable. It’s about discipling people, too – impacting their lives as we have opportunity. Below are three quick ways to think about doing this:

making the choice… well

Since a good portion (this week, at least) of a college ministry’s visitors are indeed new to the ministry, Recruitment clearly plays a role here. Every encounter those newbies have is a chance for them to be “won” to involvement in our campus ministry.

But though I am certainly a fan of putting our best foot forward, it’s important that we remember that we first and foremost want students to succeed spiritually, whether that happens in our college ministry or not. (Don’t we? Are you sure you really feel that way?)

Since that’s the case (or absolutely should be), we have chances here to “recruit with a shepherd’s heart,” explaining why a student might want to choose our college ministry – in terms that should actually matter, not just terms meant to woo them. By helping them think through this issue, we’re helping them to succeed already – and discipling them in the decision-making process.

That means our whole Hospitality Team needs to work out what we believe about our college ministry, beyond the hype. What are our college ministry’s “pillars”? What do we really offer students? And what false impressions do we need to avoid giving students? What other college ministries might students want to try? How can students get more information about our ministry – and others’ ministries?

I by no means have a problem with “bringing our A-game” and truly recruiting with gusto. But this is also a chance to help students think through one of the most important choices they’ll make in college: where they will involve themselves spiritually.

movement within

Another way we disciple those who come to our Front Door (for the first time or the twentieth time) is to point them to next steps. Part of Hospitality – as we have opportunity – is to let people know about the chances to get (more) involved. And not only that, we should actually be creating a slight tension, urging those who need to take next steps to deepen their involvement.

In other words, part of Hospitality at the Front Door is to make STAYING only at the Front Door a little uncomfortable!

As we get into conversations, one of the outcomes we should be aiming for is movement – movement of students from just the Front Door activities into the small groups, service opportunities, leadership opportunities, and/or other next steps available in our ministry.

the excellent encounter

Finally, the Hospitality Team should recognize that every encounter has the potential of actual impact above and beyond better involvement in our college ministry. We’re encountering people, and God may just want those encounters to turn into excellent moments or even turning points in people’s lives. We never know.

So let us never become a “greeting machine” that – as I’ve mentioned before – simply runs plays and “does the Hospitality thing.”

Spiritual conversations, encouragement opportunities, a good piece of advice, a referral to a great resource, and on and on – any of this can happen from a simple “greeting” experience… IF we’re open to each person as an individual, not just “another student to be greeted.”


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