hawking or hospitable?

I’m taking a vacation this week, so I’ll have a collection of favorite posts about one topic that hits most college ministries… the Large Group Meeting! Whether you have a classic “sing-n-speak” or some twist on the all-come gathering, I hope you’ll find these useful.

Do the front-line students (or other volunteers) in your ministry act more like hosts or hawkers?

On a vacation awhile back, my wife and I got to enjoy some restaurants and hotels where the customer service was top-notch. The front-line staff – hostesses, valets, front desk people, etc. – often did a great job of making us feel very welcome. (This can happen in non-“fancy” places, too, of course!)

But on that same vacation we also visited Maine’s Fryeburg Fair, a famed New England gathering of exhibitions, animals, crafts, booths, and carnival games.

There’s a lot of “hosting” happening at a fair, too. For instance, the carneys running the games have apparently found success with high-pressure efforts, trying the blunt-force, yell-across-the-way to reel people in to throw darts, guess a number, and win prizes. (My wife isn’t a big fan of that form of “hosting.”)

But it’s easy for college ministry greeters to come off more like the latter than the former – in part because they are hoping to recruit new students all the time.

Have you taken an honest look recently at how your front-line volunteers might appear to a stranger or someone else relatively new to your campus ministry? This doesn’t just include students greeting at a Large Group Meeting; true “hosts” should be found at info tables, passing out fliers, recruiting on campus, doing announcements, and anywhere else people are encountering your ministry for the first time. (It even includes the styles of your ads!) Are all these people and papers staying on the hospitable side of hosting, or have they wandered a little too much toward hawking?


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