Crossroads Community Church (Westminster, Maryland)
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.
Mary Shinholt is the Guest Services Coordinator at Crossroads Community Church‘s Westminster Campus in Maryland. Crossroads is a non-denominational church whose mission is to lead people to life-changing faith in Jesus. They have three campuses with a combined attendance of 1500. The Westminster Campus sees 950 in attendance each weekend.
Mary has been a part of Crossroads for eleven years, and on staff for the last seven. Connect with her via email.
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 have a 10-Step Flight Plan:
1. Meet your Guest Services campus coordinator
2. Receive a Guest Services manual
3. Read your Guest Services manual
4. Get connected with your serving area team leader
5. Set up a time to shadow someone
6. Decide on your best serving rotation availability and start date
7. Complete your profile on myCrossroads
8. Download the scheduling and team apps
9. Get your picture taken for your new badge
10. Celebrate with us at your first official serve time
We are also in the process of filming some short training videos for each ministry area of Guest Services. We will upload those to Right Now Media for our volunteers to watch before they begin serving.
How is your Guest Services team structured? Do you ever release Guest Services volunteers to lead in other ministries?
We are a multi-site church. Because we believe that we are all part of the guest experience, Guests Services falls under the Worship Arts Multi-site Director. Each campus has a Guest Services Coordinator and we also have a Guest Services Champion (a peer leader) who meets regularly with the Director and then leads the weekly meetings for all of us Coordinators.
Volunteers at our church can serve in multiple areas so we do “share” our volunteers (sometimes grudgingly). I sometimes tease our other ministry leaders that people are always “poaching” my best volunteers. 🙂
Talk about your assimilation process. What specific steps do you have to move someone from first-time guest to follower of Jesus?
Our church offers many opportunities for people to grow in their faith. We recommend that the first place people get involved is to take the Starting Point class and to be a part of a small group. As a Guest Services leader, I have found that inviting people to join our team and serve is often a way for people to feel a sense of belonging and that helps them to realize their value in Christ. I believe people grow in their faith when they serve together.
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?
No. As Guest Services we work in tandem with the other ministries that are a part of the Sunday morning experience. We realize that we all have a part to play in our guests hearing the message of the Gospel whether we are helping people find a parking space, serving as a security person in our kids area, teaching our kids, leading an adult education class, or leading people in worship. I think we have been led well by our pastors that our mission is to lead people to life changing faith in Jesus, and we realize that we cannot do that alone. We are all part of the same team!
What is a challenge you’re currently facing on your Guest Services team?
We use Planning Center Online to schedule our volunteers. Some people are great at responding to our invitations to serve on a Sunday. Many other people never take the time to respond and that can be a challenge because then we don’t know if they are going to show up or not.
What has been one of the biggest mistakes you’ve made in leading your team and/or implementing a guest services culture?
I have been in my position for seven years and was actually the first Guest Services Coordinator at our church when we were just a single campus. I had a lot to learn back then and I think the biggest mistake I made at the beginning was trying to do too much myself. If someone couldn’t fulfill their position on a Sunday, instead of asking someone else to fill in I’d just fill in myself. Of course, there always ends up being more holes than one person can possibly fill, especially when you grow from a church of 300 to one of three campuses with 950 attending at our campus. So I learned to build large teams with lots of alternates so there is always someone else to fill in. I have also learned to become a leader of leaders rather than trying to pour into every one of my 175 volunteers myself. I have learned to pour into my leaders and have empowered them to minister to the members of their individual teams.
How do you define success on a weekend…either personally or professionally?
Here are just a few things that I consider a “win” on a Sunday:
- When I see one of my volunteers going out of their way to help a guest
- When I see a guest come back for the second or third time
- When a new volunteer is excited to get their photo name tag showing that they are a volunteer, because they feel a part of the team
- When people go to the Next Steps center and ask how they can serve
- When I get to pray with a guest or fellow volunteer
These things make me feel that I am doing what God is calling me to do.
What is an idea you’d like to experiment with or implement over the next six months?
We serve free coffee and donuts each week, and we have a team of people who make the coffee and serve the donuts. Usually two or three people work together to do this and they are usually pretty busy in the kitchen and don’t really have time to interact with our guests. I am just starting to build a team of people who act solely as hosts at the coffee station in the lobby, engaging people in conversation so they can be another human connection. We want our guests to have that additional welcoming presence.
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