Published: 3 months ago

Q&A: How Do I Get Beyond the Guest Services Silo?

Q:

How do you create a guest services ministry that’s not a silo ministry, but rather leads to an all-encompassing church culture?

[from the 2019 Blog Survey]


A:

Every church will eventually deal with “silo ministries,” stand-alone teams whose influence never gets beyond the artificially-crafted borders that have been created over time.

In one sense, it makes sense: when a group of people gather around a common vision, it’s easy for the gravitational pull to move us towards the inside: our practices, our processes, our secret handshakes, our insider language. Besides, it’s hard for every ministry to champion the values of every other ministry, right?

But in another sense, it makes no sense: if the DNA of a ministry is valuable enough for that ministry to exist, shouldn’t the common strands of that DNA transfer to other ministries across the board? In other words, if we champion family ministry, shouldn’t our community outreach teams incorporate the best practices of inside-the-walls family ministry when we minister outside-the-walls? If we hold church planting as a strong value, then shouldn’t our weekend ministries raise up leaders who could eventually be a part of a church plant?

(By the way, this is a question I’ve asked to almost every single leader I’ve interviewed for the Guest Services Road Trip series. Some of them have really wrestled with this and seen their ministries expand beyond their borders, so their answers are well worth checking out.)

I believe that when a church tackles the ethos of hospitality, it will raise the bar for ministries across the board. When we get serious about guest services, it should change the way we welcome new preschoolers on the weekend, the way we answer the office phone during the week, and the way we care for our community 24/7.

So if I’m paraphrasing the question and assuming a couple of things on behalf of the question-asker, here’s what I think she or he is getting at:

I’m a leader in our guest services ministry, and our other ministries are lagging in the way they think about hospitality. How can I help them?

I think there are at least four things to think about:

1. Start from a posture of service.

You’ll never effect change if you do it from the position of the smarter, stronger, better savior who is coming in to fix what’s broken. Rather, put on the mantle of humility and seek to genuinely pitch in and help where you can. There’s no metric of measurement for this, but you – and those you’re attempting to serve – will be able to tell the difference between true service and veiled attempts to control.

2. Make yourself available as a resource.

Instead of telling others how they can do it better, offer to demonstrate how it’s done by jumping in to lend a hand. Volunteer to greet in the children’s area one Sunday. Act as a welcome team for the senior adults dinner. Offer to help get the venue ready for the weekend service after the student ministry finishes their event.

3. Make your training transferable.

If your guest services training only focuses on the what – the mechanics of seating, the logistics of parking, and the gory details of how to collect an offering – then it has a short shelf life and can’t be replicated in other ministries that don’t do exactly what you do.

However, if you begin to focus on the why – the vision behind why we serve people, the inextricable link of hospitality to the gospel, and the calling of every leader to serve people in practical ways – then you’ve helped connect the dots for other ministry leaders to see why this is important to them.

[For more help on crafting your philosophy of guest services, see the Primer Post series.]

4. Prioritize faithfulness over the quick fix.

It’s one thing to look at other ministries and get frustrated that their standards don’t measure up to yours (not that your standards are always perfect or even ideal, but that’s another post for another day).

But it’s another to demonstrate your willingness to serve by demonstrating your willingness to wait. Holding a posture of service doesn’t always mean that we take a posture of speed. We should cultivate faithfulness right where we are, looking for opportunities to serve where we can, make suggestions where we’re invited, and improve where we’ve been.

It may take years for you to be invited to another ministry’s table. You may spend a long time being frustrated that the change you want to see isn’t being enacted. That’s okay. By cultivating faithfulness where you are, you’re earning the privilege to speak into other ministries as those opportunities arise.

How do you extend your guest services team beyond your own silo?


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