to avoid hawking hospitality, aim for purposes

Yesterday I urged us to make sure our Greeting Team (including anyone that provides a first point of contact to our ministry) is being truly hospitable, not just hawking our ministry. But I think the latter is harder to avoid than we think… over time, any position in a ministry can become more and more rote, and more and more “joblike.”

The solution is something I covered awhile back during my “Front Door Hospitality” series, so I thought it’d be a good chance to repost that one with some edits.

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 be focused on what they’re trying to achieve? Whether we’re aiming for comfort or information or healing or entertainment or simply a feeling that “I am welcome here,” any successful host has to begin with the end in mind (whether that’s subconscious, because they’re skilled at hosting, or conscious). And what’s more, the host’s success isn’t evaluated on anything but those targets. No, it’s not “the thought that counts” when it comes to be good hosts.

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 for any and all hosts. In some college ministries, you could be aiming for a variety of targets. “Guests feeling welcomed” is probably where we start, and that’s the vital one. But there may be others: guests’ names being learned, guests putting on a nametag, guests coming into contact with three friendly people, guests learning certain things about the ministry, guests having one significant conversation before they leave, 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)?

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