Q&A: Should I Ignore My Friends for the Sake of Our Guests?
When I am serving in the Welcome Center and I’m trying to be super-focused on guests, how do I kindly tell my friends or long term church attenders that we can talk later (and please don’t add to the congestion of the Welcome Center) as it might deter guests from walking over?
[name withheld, Illinois]
Repeat after me:
Weekends are for new friends.
It seems harsh. It seems mean. But if your weekend role is primarily in guest services (and even if it’s not) the weekend service should be designed to help outsiders become insiders.
That means that long, lingering conversations with old friends should wait if there is a guest to be spoken to. It means that we always have to keep our head on a swivel (a saying that a friend of mind swears is real). And it means that sometimes we have to kill the catch up time with people we know in order to catch up with those we don’t yet know.
Here are two things I’ve found to be successful:
1. Look past the friend.
Literally look past ’em. Talk over their shoulder instead of into their face. You are maintaining an outward posture so that you can keep an eye out for new people.
2. Acknowledge the job at hand.
#1 above seems uber-rude, so put your cards on the table. Tell the friend at the beginning of the conversation: “Hey, I’m so sorry if I end up needing to bounce away from you for a minute, but I’m watching for anyone I may not recognize. Hold that thought and I’ll come back.”
The intuitive, relationally-aware friend will eventually take the hint. Those that don’t may need a more direct conversation.
Now, the above tactics are not designed to avoid conversations with friends. If you have to interrupt them on Sunday morning, make sure to shoot ’em a text on Sunday afternoon and find a time to grab coffee. Don’t alienate your existing friendships as you incorporate new ones.
photo credit: Peter Van Dyck