When you’re responsible for overseeing hospitality at a church, it’s only a matter of time until you start asking the “now what?” questions:
- We’ve developed a process for welcoming guests…now what?
- Everybody receives a gift on their first visit…now what?
- We’re bending over backwards to show people that we care and they should like us…now what?
Left unchecked, even the most well-meaning guest service process can make you feel like your church is nothing more than a cross-bearing concierge service, doing whatever it takes to keep people happy and to keep churning out new experiences. Maybe it’s self-motivated, where you’re always trying to one-up the experience you delivered last year. Perhaps it’s an expectation that you sense from your guests or even your regulars, that last month’s kicks and giggles no longer satisfy and you’d better step it up.
It’s in those moments that we can feel very much like Aladdin with his lamp: desperately summoning the genie so we can be more, do more, deliver more. Or worse, we can feel like the genie, and the congregational Aladdins are constantly demanding that we perform on cue.
What we need is not a better lamp or a better genie, but a better path. Hospitality has to lead somewhere. It must be a catalyst. You can build the best guest service house imaginable, but if it’s built on the wrong foundation, it’s going to collapse.
Instead of crafting the perfect experience, why not use that experience to point to something deeper? Why not build a relationship with a guest in order to point them to a perfect relationship with Christ? Make no mistake: Jesus is no genie. But when we truly encounter him, we no longer ask the question, “How can I be served?” but rather, “How can I serve the kingdom…and others?”