Good News Church (Sioux Falls, South Dakota)
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.
Tyler Van Voorst (l) is the Connections Pastor and Derek Harsch (r) is the Worship Pastor / Hospitality Director at Good News Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Good News is a family-oriented multi-generational church that exists to guide people into a growing relationship with Jesus. They follow a single-site model and have a weekend attendance between 400-450.
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 Hospitality Team volunteers?
We offer a large training session twice a year for all hospitality volunteers. Each volunteer each is given a copy of Becoming A Welcoming Church so that it can be discussed throughout the year. On Sunday mornings, each team has a team meeting led by a volunteer leader and they discuss ongoing issues.
How is your Hospitality Team structured? Do you ever release Hospitality volunteers to lead in other ministries?
We have four total teams, and each team has a volunteer team leader. Teams serve every other month – for the whole month – with each team serving at one service. We have front door greeters, ushers, coffee, Connection Center, and floaters.
Volunteers are free to leave and serve in other ministries when they want. There are currently a few Hospitality Team volunteers that serve in Kids Ministry.
Talk about your assimilation process. What specific steps do you have to move someone from first-time guest to follower of Jesus?
(Tyler) This is where I come in as the Connections Pastor, but I believe our job to get people connected has to start on someone’s first Sunday. One of the phrases I like to use is “from car to car.” I want someone to feel welcomed and engaged from the second they step out of their car to the second they get back into their car. Currently I’m working on making a clear assimilation process. If someone comes the first Sunday, I want to make sure they know they are invited back for the next Sunday. We are starting a new class called GN 101 in which guests will learn about the basics of Good News and find ways to get involved. I believe small groups, serving, and upcoming events are the next important ways for people to start to find community. I believe that if people don’t find four to six friends in the first few months, it will lower their chances for getting connected at Good News and growing with Jesus. We will also have a GN 201 class that will focus on diving deeper into what faith looks like and more of the background of Good News.
After that, I don’t have anything set in stone, but I would like to do GN 301 and 401 classes in which people learn what it means to be a disciple. 301 will focus on the basics of faith and 401 will be more in-depth and help people learn to grow in their faith to the point where they feel empowered as a disciple of Jesus.
Assimilation involves getting involved at Good News, but ultimately it involves showing people what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. Our vision is to Love God, Love One Another, and Serve the World. I want that to guide every step of the way.
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?
(Tyler) In theory, everyone sees guest services as part of the bigger vision of the church. Everyone knows it’s important to greet and be welcoming to new people, but I’m working hard to get everyone to understand the significance in being intentional in everything we do. Many people who have been here for years don’t always have a new guest at the forefront of their mind. Many guests will tell us that we are a welcoming church, but I want to help challenge our ministries and attenders to be intentional about engaging everyone that steps through our doors. Education is going to be my best helper in doing so. If people don’t recognize the significance, they won’t see significance in it. Because I’ve only been here since June and I’m currently still in college, I don’t have a ton of time to focus on it. I’m doing what I can.
What is one of your best practices / ministry hacks that you’re especially happy with?
(Tyler) Our Next Steps process is going to be one of our best tools. Good News hasn’t had a clear process for a while, if ever. One of the best tools that I’ve just started using is the follow up phone call process that Danny suggested. In this process, I call a guest and if they don’t answer, I leave a voicemail and mention that I will call back around the same time at a later date. This has been successful for me lately. The intentionality of making sure I do all I can to talk with a guest is definitely helping me connect with people. Later, I see that those I have a personal relationship are the ones that respond when I reach out.
What is a challenge you’re currently facing on your Hospitality Team?
(Derek) Continually fielding new volunteers to be a part of the Hospitality Team and connecting with new guests at a deeper level has been difficult. Our team is great at smiling and saying good morning, but it’s been difficult at times to engage with guests. Team attendance is always hard as well. Making sure people feel accountable to either be there or tell their leader why they aren’t there has been a work in progress.
What has been one of the biggest mistakes you’ve made in leading your team and/or implementing a guest services culture?
When Derek came in 2017, the Hospitality Team was structured by having people assigned one Sunday every six weeks. There have been struggles changing from an inward focus to an outward focused church. Derek tried to find team leads and build a team culture while having people serve “month on and month off.” He has learned that it’s important to make sure to find the right people for team leads and ensure there is great ongoing training.
How do you define success on a weekend…either personally or professionally?
(Tyler) I don’t necessarily have to think as logistically as Derek does, so my personal success is connecting and engaging as many new and newer guests as possible. I enjoy talking with people who are regular attenders, but I feel like my growth and confidence as a pastor has come from connecting with new people in a vulnerable way. If I take a step forward, oftentimes people are thankful and I feel like I have showed them the love of Jesus! Professionally, I believe when we are intentional and professional across the board (Hospitality, Worship, Preaching, Kids Ministry, Adult Discipleship, etc.) it feels like we were successful.
(Derek) Logistically, it is communicating the necessary things that need to be discussed with the Hospitality Team and making sure that people show up.
What is an idea you’d like to experiment with or implement over the next six months?
(Tyler) I’m going to be starting the GN 101 class and trying to establish a solid Next Steps process. I’m hoping that when we have a clear process for people, they will be inclined to taking it. The more chances we have to connect with people in a real and authentic way, I believe they will begin to take steps towards connecting with the church and with Jesus!
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