Here on the ol’ blog, I talk a lot about the mechanics of hospitality: systems, structures, and staffing that takes a biblical virtue and puts it together on an institutional level.
But perhaps more important than hospitality’s mechanics are its organics: what is the church’s true culture towards guests? Are we saying we’re a guest-friendly church, but not backing it up with actions? Do we expect the official greeters with laminated name badges to be the only ones who reach out to a stranger?
That’s why it’s necessary to look at very practical things that help raise the organic culture at our churches. And that’s why Uncle Danny’s Tip Of The Day is:
Park far away from your building.
For several years Merriem and I lived out in the country, and every day I’d pass a little rural church that had five little rural signs in the little rural gravel parking lot, all lined up in a little rural row. The two signs farthest from the front door were designated as visitor parking (an automatic no-no). The next closest to the door were two reserved handicapped spaces. But the spot smack in front of the main entrance? “Reserved for our Pastor.”
Every time I passed those signs I’d get madder and madder and tried to find verses that would justify vandalism. (Vandalism done in the name of the gospel? Evandalism. But I digress.)
Now I think I know what happened: that church was trying to honor their shepherd. I’m sure the pastor never opened a business meeting by pounding his fist on the pulpit and demanding his own parking spot. But what did that well-intentioned sign placement say to a guest? “We’re more concerned about our comfort than yours.”
That’s the reason we encourage our staff and leadership to park as far away from the front entrance as possible, and why I’d encourage you to do the same.
A long Sunday morning walk will do four things:
- It raises your “guest awareness.” You have a built-in weekly reminder that there’s always room for someone else, and when you walk by those guest parking spaces, you can pray for the people who will eventually park there.
- It communicates what you value. I want our people to see our staff walking to our cars after church. Not because we’re jockeying for the Parking Martyr Christian Service Award, but because it says that we value the comfort of a guest more than our own.
- It gives you a chance to look at your facility. Weeds, trash, and junk can be turn-offs to a guest. Walking the property gets your eyeballs where they need to be.
- You get a little exercise. Let’s be honest: you could stand to lose a couple of pounds.
What are some other ways you raise the guest awareness in your church? How are you doing at instilling organic hospitality? And most importantly, how many more Nicholas Sparks movie titles can we repurpose for blog posts?