Bethlehem Church (Bethlehem, Georgia)
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 originally appeared in early December 2019, so what better way to kick off the Christmas season by visiting a guy named Joseph in Bethlehem? That’s right, readers: we spare no expense or kitsch in bringing you hard-hitting journalism. Merry Christmas.
Joseph Brown is the 211 Discipleship Pastor at Bethlehem Church in Bethlehem, Georgia, and part of his role includes leading the Guest Services team. Bethlehem currently has three locations in the northeast Georgia region and sees 4,000 in weekly attendance. Bethlehem describes her mission as a people united in Christ, a people for all people, and a people building a better community. Since 2016, Bethlehem has ranked as one of Outreach magazine’s 100 fastest-growing churches.
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?
We currently have coaches over every area of Guest Services: Parking Team, Greeter Team, First-Time Family Check-In Team, Cafe Team, Usher Team, and Security/Medical Team. We try to equip the coaches with everything they need to train and develop the people under them. We also use a video training system called ServeHQ. We try to send out videos once a month with helpful tips and reminders for our Guest Services Teams.
How is your Guest Services team structured? Do you ever release Guest Services volunteers to lead in other ministries?
Our hierarchy is Pastor/Staff > Coaches > Team Members.
We believe very strongly in the next generation at the church. They are not the church of tomorrow but today. So, our best and brightest Guest Services volunteers are constantly asked to join the children’s ministry team or student ministry team in order to replicate healthy hospitality there.
Talk about your assimilation process. What specific steps do you have to move someone from first-time guest to follower of Jesus?
We have several ways people can get connected to the church. We have our First-Time Family check-in stations at every campus of Bethlehem Church. At these stations we ask the families to fill out as much information as they feel comfortable with on the form. We also have a connection card on the bottom of our bulletin that we highlight every service. We even have an online connection card on our website and our church app.
Once someone fills out one of these connection cards we follow up with them within 24 hours, thanking them for filling out the card and then telling them more about how they can get plugged into the church, what it means to be a follower of Jesus, or whatever they indicated on the connection card.
Our Lead Pastor Jason Britt also does a volunteer push once or twice a year asking anyone that calls Bethlehem Church home to get plugged into the church by giving, serving, and joining a small group (in no particular order). We also have a texting system, people can get plugged in that way as well.
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?
Bethlehem Church is one of the most unified churches I have ever seen. There is no ministry at Bethlehem that is a silo ministry, which is amazing! We are all on the same team helping each other grow and helping each ministry. Not only that, we also like each other and a lot of us hang out outside of ministry. We have the same mission and the same purpose, no matter what area of ministry you are in at Bethlehem.
How do you define success on a weekend…either personally or professionally?
I think one of the most important things when it comes to Guest Services in a church is the attitude of your volunteer team. If we put ourself in the shoes of a first time guest, we have to ask a few questions: are the people helping us park our car waving and smiling? Are the people that greet us at the main doors glad that we are there? Are the people that are helping me check in my kids knowledgeable with the system, and are they interacting with my kids in an exciting way? Are the ushers pushy or helpful in getting me the best seat in the house? Is the cafe team friendly and welcoming? Does the security team make me feel safe or more nervous? I believe that when a Guest Services team has a positive personality, it is contagious and people want to come back for more. So, a successful weekend is a group of volunteers that love to be at church and love to see people show up at church.
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