I have begun working with a personal trainer who I am hopeful, will help get me back into some better level of physical shape. I do far too much sitting and late night eating and I just decided that something had to be done.
I arrived at the fitness center the first day and walked through the door. I didn’t know where to go or what the protocol was for new clients. But immediately upon my entry I was greeted by Josh and shown to the room where I could put my things and change into my workout clothes.
Shortly after getting changed, I was shown the workout area and introduced to my trainer. He was about 6 foot 4 and in wonderful shape. Feeling inadequate and out of place I made several comments about my lack of ability and the length of time it had been since I had been in the gym. My trainer listened but always provided positive responses. He praised the things I was able to do fairly well and in those activities that were particularly lacking he told me we would work on those things. He explained everything he asked me to do and showed me the correct form, teaching and helping me all along the way.
As I left this initial session I got to thinking about my experience and how it might relate to people who come to our churches for the first time. How often do they have to find their way through the maze (almost literally sometimes!) of our convoluted building looking for the sanctuary or the nursery? Often even when there are pleasant greeters, folks are welcomed at the door but are then set free to wander on their own. And when they do find their way into the sanctuary, there is still a labyrinth of words and traditions and activities to navigate. Here are just a few I encounter in churches as I visit.
- The ten minutes of announcements about things that rarely relate to visitors
- A “greeting time” which often feels like a family reunion and is often very awkward for visitors
- Inside language that is not explained leaving the visitor again to feel on the outside (at the gym every exercise and piece of equipment was explained to me and I never felt as though I was supposed to know it)
On the whole churches are getting better at hospitality. We are learning and growing and committing ourselves to it in new ways. But there are still opportunities to grow in this important area. I am looking forward to Jim Ozier’s presence with us at the GR District “Creating a Culture of Hospitality” Event on Saturday, February 27, 2016. Jim has done extensive work in the area of hospitality and will bring some helpful fresh perspectives. He along with the other facilitators will provide skills and encouragement to all of us as we seek to grow in our ministries.
Please be sure to get this date on your calendar and plan to bring your leadership to this important day. Registration and additional details coming soon!