Beauty or Utility?
How do you view the nature of guest services on the weekend? When you think about the roles of the parking team, the seaters, the door openers, and the info table volunteers, what exactly do you think about? What are the purposes of the systems and strategies behind your teams?
Some churches appreciate guest services for a strictly utilitarian purpose: the parkers and seaters and offering takers allow the assembled church to assemble a little easier. Traffic flows smoother, people are less frustrated, relational connections are made, and the church grows. True, it’s hard to assemble a team of volunteers and it can be a challenge to develop the infrastructure and training, but the end result makes it worthwhile. We can reduce the utility down to a formula: x volunteers multiplied by x positive experiences equals x returning guests.
I’m not knocking utility. It has its purpose, and if it makes it easier for people to connect, then I’m all for it.
But there’s a better and greater purpose behind guest services, and that’s beauty. Beauty is where we go beyond utility. It’s where formulas form something that can’t be measured in stats and spreadsheets. The beauty of guest services is that it serves as a sign post to the gospel. Our planning and strategizing and vision casting and volunteer recruiting may indeed reduce combustion points and increase efficiency, but that shouldn’t be the reason we do it. Guest services should ultimately point to the kindness of Jesus. Our hospitality should be a catalyst.
So plan well. Strategize, tweak, and improve. But don’t do it in order to up your game from last weekend. Do it because you want people to be able to clearly see the grace of God and hear the message of mercy that comes from the gospel.
Don’t just see your service as useful, but beautiful.
Thanks to my pastor J.D. Greear for the idea that sparked this post, from his sermon “The Confusing Experience of Faith,” May 22, 2016.