This summer, I had the wonderful opportunity to host my step-mom for a couple of days. I so looked forward to her coming. I made sure the guest room was ready with clean sheets, a new pillow and space in the closet in case she needed to hang anything up. I loved getting the room ready in anticipation of her coming. We had a wonderful time together and not long after her return home, I received a thank you note from her. Because of my preparation we had a great time together, she felt welcomed and loved.
Here at church we also have prepared for visitors through the welcome center being staffed, having visitor packets to give out and following up with connection cards. Even with these in place, we still must wait for visitors to come to us. But what if we didn’t wait for the visitor to come to us at the welcome center or wait for a card to be filled out. What if we made an effort to see those who we are unfamiliar with and graciously make contact with them. This is fairly easy to do: When you see someone you don’t know, ask if they need any help, introduce yourself to them, invite them to sit with you in worship. When we take the time to notice those around us, we will see who our visitors are and then we are able to connect with them and help them feel welcomed here.
I would love to have several people or a family doing this in the narthex each Sunday. Their job will be to look around and see who looks lost, who needs help with something, who looks uncertain about coming into church or who they are unfamiliar with. The best part of making connections with people is that you can stand and be anywhere in the narthex. Your lookout point may be near the welcome center, over by the name tags or between the front and sanctuary doors just mingling around. This is what we are missing in our hospitality ministry: minglers who will welcome not only our visitors but also our regular attenders. We need minglers who will focus on people coming into the narthex and see if they need assistance or look unfamiliar and may be a visitor.
Our hospitality ministry would be complete with minglers around the narthex and even in the sanctuary to welcome and be a help to all who enter into our church. I would love to reap a harvest of hospitality, connecting with visitors in person, introducing them to the welcome center staff and giving them a visitor packet. Our church would then be a more welcoming place. I will not grow weary in trying to get minglers in the narthex and sanctuary. As it says in Galatians 6:9, “So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.” I will keep praying and looking for those God will place in front of me, to be minglers. When we create a place filled with hospitality, we will reap a harvest of welcome.