Each month, we revisit a series of posts called Guest Services Road Trip. We’ll travel the country from the comforts of our couches, interviewing leaders who are in the trenches of ministry. Do you have an idea for GSRT destination? Have a leader I need to talk to? Want the inside scoop on churches that seem to be doing this hospitality thing really well? Let’s talk.
This post initially appeared on July 4, 2019. So what better way to celebrate Independence Day than to road trip to our nation’s capital? As an added bonus, this is the first-ever duo road trip interview. ‘murica, y’all.
Shea Casper (l) and Sarah Doese (r) co-lead the Connect Team at Restoration City Church in greater Washington, D.C. (specifically Arlington, Virginia). Restoration City is a part of The Summit Network family of churches, and was planted in 2014 by Pastor John McGowan. They are a mobile church, currently meeting for one Sunday service at a local middle school. Restoration exists to reach the D.C. metro area with the good news of the gospel.
What are the top three books you’ve read on the topic of guest services and/or volunteer culture?
How is your Connect Team structured? Do you ever release Connect Team volunteers to lead in other ministries?
We are still a relatively small church supported by a relatively small group of volunteers. While we are working on delegating and training up leaders within the Connect Team, Sarah and I are currently leading all aspects of the team. We have a regular team of people that come early to help set up the lobby, pray together, and then disperse to welcome people in the parking lot, at the door, in the lobby, and inside of the auditorium. Given that we have a small volunteer group across the church as a whole, we have folks leading and serving in both Connect and on other teams. (Shea)
Is guest services a “silo ministry” in your church? In other words, does your discipleship team, kids team, worship team, mission team, etc. view it as an essential part of “their” mission?
I would say that the rest of our teams look to the Connect Team as a big part of their mission. The Connect Team and the lobby of our church is the first impression that a new person gets of Restoration City. We hear from people months (sometimes even years) from their first Sunday, saying that they came back to RCC because of a connection they made in our lobby. By pouring out love and Christ-centered hospitality right inside the doors, it allows us to easily connect someone with a ministry, person, or small group that might be the best fit for them. (Sarah)
What is one of your best practices / ministry hacks that you’re especially happy with?
Getting people connected to a community group right away. Since we’re located in a suburb of a major city, our community groups are spread all over. Making sure we get someone invested in community as quickly as possible allows us to make someone feel welcome when they first come to our church. (Sarah)
What is a challenge you’re currently facing on your Connect Team?
We have maintained about the same size / specific group of volunteers across the past couple of years. I think that there is an assumption and perception that we are “doing fine” in terms of the number of volunteers that we have and that we are not in need of additional people to serve. I think the fundamental shift that we want to see happen, and this is across all of our volunteer teams, is that yes, God calls us to serve, and yes, he will use us, but that he also has something FOR us in our serving. I want our team to see Sunday mornings as a gift and a delight out of a deep, genuine love for each other, for our city, and for our Father. (Shea)
How do you define success on a weekend…either personally or professionally?
A successful weekend is when I see people staying to spend time in our lobby or auditorium following our church service. When people feel welcomed enough to want to stay and have fellowship with the rest of our church, that’s when I feel that we’re helping others feel connected to each other. (Sarah)
This is difficult to quantify, but I enter every weekend praying that people -whether they have been attending RCC for years or it’s their very first time – wouldn’t be able to leave without thinking “Wow. Those people really wanted me there.” I think there is a difference between feeling welcomed (which is important) and feeling known (and, in a way, unquestioned). I want the people that walk through our doors to feel unquestioned in our care for them despite what they bring through the door with them. Again, it’s a difficult success metric to quantify, and has so many factors that are outside of our control, but I believe that kind of environment begins with the body caring for each other, and more specifically with the Connect Team specifically caring for and loving each other well and without question. (Shea)
What is an idea you’d like to experiment with or implement over the next six months?
We’ve been working through trying to organize our Connect Team in the style of a community group. Shea and I will split up the Connect Team and each check in with different members in a more personalized context. In order for our volunteers to pour out to others in our church, those members need to feel poured into. (Sarah)
We absolutely want to begin to invest in developing more leaders within our Connect Team. We have a number of volunteers that could lead the entire team from set up to tear down on a Sunday morning. We just need to make the ask of them and equip them with the insight into how we run a Sunday morning. Building out the depth and leadership that exists on our team is something that Sarah and I have discussed and are going to begin to implement. (Shea)
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