As I’m working my way through this series on Hospitality in College Ministry, a vital note:
Perceptions always matter, but even more so in aiming for hospitality.
We’ve all had moments of sadness when we hear that students who visited our ministries didn’t feel welcomed. But we’ve also probably (wisely) learned that sometimes the visitors themselves are at fault – they expected something that wouldn’t have expected in any other venue, for instance, or they unfairly extrapolated after running into somebody who was unfriendly (who might have been a visitor themselves!).
But the danger is that we’d lean too heavily on the excuses (true though they may be) and miss the opportunity to still work on helping these perceptions change. I know “perception is reality” is a cliche (though it’s often important to see the truth there) – but in this case, the act of being hospitable does hinge on people’s feelings – feeling welcome, feeling invited, feeling happy they came.
So how are you (A) discerning visitors’ perceptions, and (B) helping improve them?
We won’t get 100% positive impressions. But if we want to be hospitable, we should probably be trying to get there.