Thrive Community Church (Grand Forks, North 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.
Alexandria (Alley) Stroh is the Communications and Welcome Ministry Director at Thrive Community Church in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Thrive sees an average of 450 attendees each weekend (300 during COVID). In addition to the two Sunday morning services at their original campus, they host an additional service at a campus in Grafton, 45 minutes north.
Alley began in her role in July 2020. To connect with her regarding welcome ministry or communications, contact 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 Welcome Team volunteers?
First, potential volunteers express interest either through our connect card or word of mouth. Then, we lead them to fill out a survey, indicating which positions they are interested in (front door greeter, sanctuary door greeter, welcome desk attendant, parking lot attendant, and usher). This also gets their name and information in the system (if they aren’t already in there).
I then provide them with a training packet that I created. This packet outlines the welcome ministry guidelines and details our official welcome ministry mission statement: “To welcome and extend Christ-like hospitality to those who are first-timers, casual church-goers and veterans of Thrive Community Church of all ages, genders, and races into our facilities. To represent the church and Jesus Christ with utmost respect, grace, and kindness. To establish relationships and connect those with others. To communicate effectively of what Thrive can offer, with evangelism in mind.”
We also use Leviticus 19:34 a the verse we serve by: “You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”
I believe that it is vital to let the volunteers know that they are ministers. They are just as important to the mission as the lead pastor. As the first faces that attendees see when they walk in the front doors or pull into the parking lot, they represent Jesus Christ and the church.
I also highlight scheduling information as well as my personal contact information. The volunteers know that they can reach out to me at any time for anything.
We use Planning Center to schedule volunteers. I usually schedule them a week in advance and then set up a few reminders during the week. I am in the process of scheduling as far out as a month, but with COVID-19 still very present, I have just been doing weekly according to availability. I also have included a little “Ten Commandments for greeters in the visitor-friendly congregation” which is a list of ten guidelines from one of the books I’ve read. It is pocket-sized and laminated for the volunteers to have as reminders. I also printed welcome ministry stickers – I really wanted to let the volunteers know that their positions are important and vital to the church. Even just saying a simple friendly hello could make someone’s first day of church unforgettable. These volunteers are furthering the kingdom of God even if they can’t tangibly see it.
How is your Welcome Team structured? Do you ever release guest services volunteers to lead in other ministries?
It is just me who spearheads the whole welcome ministry – I meet with them, train them, schedule them, and also volunteer in some areas myself. Then we have greeters, ushers, welcome desk attendants and parking lot attendants. Most of our volunteers serve in other ministries as well!
What is a challenge you’re currently facing on your Welcome Team?
Like all ministries right now, as we are in an international pandemic, we are facing both the loss of previous volunteers and fewer numbers of new recruits. I am having to make the Sunday morning welcome schedule work with significantly less people.
One example of this is having two parking lot attendants instead of four, but we still make it work! I have also been volunteering myself. If we need someone at the welcome desk, I’ll step in.
What is an idea you’d like to experiment with or implement over the next six months?
Because I do a variety of things on Sunday mornings (supervise our live stream and tech/sound volunteers, among other random things) I’ve been creating a volunteer check-in document to keep track of all the volunteers who have shown up, if they are in their assigned positions, if they need anything from me, etc. It personally helps me keep track of everyone and also shows the volunteers exactly where they need to be and who they may be volunteering with. Some people have friends or significant others that they prefer to volunteer with. I am a list person anyways, so this helps Sunday mornings to be a little more organized! It also helps me put names to faces as I am still new here and learning who people are.
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