Hear What They’re Not Saying
People won’t always tell you what they need.
Sometimes it’s because of pride (“I can handle it on my own.”). Sometimes it’s because of fear (“What if they laugh or say ‘no’ to my request?”). Sometimes it’s because not even they can recognize what they need.
As guest services teams, it’s our job to recognize the need – even the unspoken ones – so we can respond and help.
I saw this a few years back when I met an older gentleman attending our church for the first time. Bob was in his mid-70’s, and I knew he was a good bit older than our typical first time guest.
Bob and I had several minutes of surface-level small talk, and I finally asked him the question, “Why did you decide to come this morning?” Here’s his [paraphrased] answer:
“My wife died two months ago. Every time I walk into my old church, I’m overwhelmed with memories. I love the people there, but it’s too hard to worship there anymore without my wife. I need a place where I can get a fresh start and hear from God again.”
Bob went on to meet some other people, got involved in a small group, and even served on our parking team for a while. Every time I saw him, I was grateful that our conversation didn’t stop at the surface.
So what is it that people are not saying? And what are the questions we ask ourselves to make sure that we’re giving appropriate help?
- Why is this mom with three toddlers attending church all by herself? Where does her husband fit into the picture?
- Why is this man visibly sad?
- Why is this college girl sitting by herself? (College girls always travel in packs.)
When we ask the questions that they’re not asking, we get to hear what they’re not saying.
An earlier version of this post appeared in November 2009.