What is the typical first-time guest experience at your church? In person? Online? Does the experience meet their expectations or does it exceed their expectations? In my experience what most churches offer as hospitality only meets standard common hospitality expectations. In other words, this is what most average people would “expect” to find in a common encounter with other people where they are meeting people for the first time.
The church of all places is where a guest should be treated as an honored guest. We should not only offer hospitality to meet their expectations, but the church should be a place where extravagant hospitality is offered as the norm. The apostle John instructed Gaius, a leader of one or more of the churches in Asia Minor in about AD 90, writes about the importance of hospitality and how to receive guests:
Dear friend, when you extend hospitality
to Christian brothers and sisters,
even when they are strangers, you make the faith visible.
They’ve made a full report back to the church here,
a message about your love.
It’s good work you’re doing,
helping these travelers on their way,
hospitality worthy of God himself!
They set out under the banner of the Name,
and get no help from unbelievers.
So, they deserve any support we can give them.
In providing meals and a bed,
we become their companions in spreading the Truth.
3 John 1:1-5 MSG
Through extravagant hospitality, the church makes the faith visible. The church does this through sharing unconditional love. We exceed a first-time guest’s expectation of hospitality through their first impressions of the church. We do all we can to make them feel comfortable, removing all barriers, and place our personal preferences aside so that the honored guest feels seen, valued, welcomed, and could see taking a next step.
The apostle John suggests we offer hospitality worthy of God himself! That sets the bar high indeed! How would you rate the hospitality your church extends to your guests? How would your guests rate the hospitality extended to them? We will never have the opportunity to share Jesus with them if they don’t first feel welcome.
Ever wonder what the “top five turn-offs” are for first-time guests? Click here for a free list detailing these turn-offs to avoid! If you would like to ascertain what your first-time guests experience is at your church, explore investing in mystery worshipers at ImpressionUnlimited.org.