Fellowship Bible Church (Topeka, Kansas)
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.
Warren Wilson (l) is the Community Life Director and Liam Weingartner (r) is the Connections Coordinator at Fellowship Bible Church in Topeka, Kansas. Previously, Warren oversaw all guest services and connections roles at Fellowship. Liam served as a summer intern in 2017 and 2018. In May 2019, he began a part time role as the Guest Services Coordinator, moving into a full time Connections Coordinator role in July 2019. Warren and Liam unpack their transition story below
Fellowship is a non-denominational, Bible-preaching church of 2,600. They have a second campus in the heart of one of the most impoverished, high crime neighborhoods in Topeka.
What are the top three books you’ve read on the topic of guest services and/or volunteer culture?
What does your training process look like for your guest services volunteers?
Currently, our training process is on-the-job training. Although it has worked well for us, it isn’t the ideal and is not the future vision. Reality in our context is that volunteer training within Guest Services is one of the things that gets knocked back in the whirlwind of ministry.
How is your guest services team structured? Do you ever release guest services volunteers to lead in other ministries?
Previously, our Connections team was under our Discipleship Ministry. We have recently restructured and our Guest Services Team resides under Weekend Worship. Overall direction is now under Liam as the Connections Coordinator.
We have 12 Guest Services teams – six on Saturday, six on Sunday. Each team has a Team Lead and serves once every six weeks. This has worked well as teams are not scheduled to serve on the same holidays and / or special events each year. We find that serving seven or eight times a year is a less intimidating ask for those just starting out. Those who are eager and catch the vision for serving sign on for multiple teams.
We readily release volunteers to lead in other ministries for their spiritual and leadership development. And, we want people serving in ministries for which they have a true passion.
What is one of your best practices / ministry hacks that you’re especially happy with?
(Liam) Never asking someone to do something I haven’t done myself. Within my first few weeks here, I took the opportunity to learn and serve in each of the roles I would be providing leadership to. This has been key in establishing rapport with the volunteers.
(Warren) VIP Time – Casting the vision, sharing information, and praying. I’ve always felt this time to be valuable for the team from a relational aspect and as a critical time for us to slow down and prepare our hearts and minds to welcome our guests.
What is a challenge you’re currently facing on your guest services team?
(Liam) Not everyone on the team has caught the vision that their service is worship to God. A vital part of being a disciple is that we take on the nature of a servant and see that as part of our identity. Not everyone sees service as a response to what Jesus has done for us.
What has been one of the biggest mistakes you’ve made in leading your team and/or implementing a guest services culture?
(Warren) Not delegating and over-protecting. Okay…control! As a leader, delegation and control have been my nemesis, but I’m learning, acknowledging, and giving away more of that control – to others and to God!
What is an idea you’d like to experiment with or implement over the next six months?
(Liam) I want to have a personal connection with each new volunteer through one-on-one meetings. And, I would like to have an established training program for new volunteers. I don’t know if either of these will happen or be complete in the next six months.
(Warren) I predict that the personal connection will happen, in some form, well before six months is up. That’s just who Liam is!
Warren: as you step away from a role you’ve held over the last few years, what are the most valuable things you’ve tried to impart to Liam?
More than any finely tuned process, executed flawlessly; relationship with volunteers and guests will always return the greatest reward – for you and for the Kingdom.
This is now Liam’s ministry to lead and I will support him in any way I can and with any changes, modifications, tweaks he wants to make. I am available to him and not offended by questions of, “Why did you implement this?” or “Why did you do it this way?” I am for Liam!
And finally, rest. Ministry can consume us. It is our passion. Rest… physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. Rest.
Liam: as you step into a new role, there’s always a balance between protecting the values of the past and charting a new course for the future. How have you balanced the history of the team with your dreams of what’s next?
I think there is a tendency to look at traditions as a negative thing needing to be replaced by new and fresh ideas. Personally, my goal is not to replace everything with a fresh spin or twist. My goal is to be faithful with what God has given me and that means blending the traditions that people are familiar with as well as helping them to catch the new vision that God has given me in this role. So, while Warren and I are unique people who have different gifts and lead in different ways I want to carry on some of his legacy that he spent time growing in this ministry because honestly he has better ideas than I would in some areas. I would be crazy to think that I need every idea and vision and direction to come from my own head.
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