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August 16: Sunday Experience Initiative (SEI), Part 3: Expanding Our Culture of Hospitality to Guest

We have all been there before, walking into a new place without any idea of what to expect or if you will know anyone.

So, imagine what it is like for a guest to encounter UBC for the first time. Do they know where to go? Will they be intentionally encountered with hospitality and clear information?

Part of the Sunday Experience Initiative is to help us rethink how we encounter guests and with what we counter guests.

Experts say (whoever these experts might be) that someone decides within ten seconds whether or not they will come back to our church. Before the choir has a chance to sing, before a sermon is preached, or before the dynamic community of the church is experienced, a guest has decided if you are the church for her/him/them. No pressure…

At the same time, we must recognize that each guest and member is different. Some expect to be engaged in conversation from the time they walk in the door until the time they leave. At the same time, others want to be greeted warmly and then engaged in a modest amount of dialogue.

Whether a person wants a deeply engaging or a brief moment of dialogue, there are some key things we can all do to make this a full and unique experience for the guest and members.

One of the new ways that we will be approaching guests is by utilizing a Sunday Experience Team. This team will be facilitated by trained and empowered greeters. The greeters will encounter guests with intentionality and hospitality, using our unique personalities.

We want the Sunday Experience Team to have a diversity of people to reflect the diversity of UBC. The team enlists older children, youth, college students, and adults from across all of UBC’s membership base.

The team will be built around a five-week and four-person greeting group each Sunday. In other words, there will be five groups of four people with each group serving one Sunday out of the month.

The greeting teams will be split in two to cover the two primary sanctuary entrances. The teams will manage new Guest Services tables, equipped with information about UBC, a gift, children’s coloring pages and crayons, and a new instrument to collect guest information.

If you are interested in volunteering one Sunday per month for 25-minutes, please contact Andy.

If you are not available for greeting, you can still do your part to make the experience of guests and worship participants more welcoming, safe, and comfortable.

Here are a few helpful tips:

1. Be on the lookout for new people walking into the worship space. Position yourself to have a clear view of the back doors of the sanctuary.

2. Put your current conversation on pause.

You might want to consider inviting the people you’re conversing with over to talk with the new guest. Invite others into the process of engaging guests deeply. Model the way!

3. Slow down. Meaningful conversation is the goal.

4. Ask some intentional questions.

Are you new to Baton Rouge? How did you hear about UBC? What questions do you have about the church?

5. Share your story

How long you have been in Baton Rouge? How did you discover UBC? What is meaningful to you about UBC? What are some of the initiatives you have joined?

6. Things not to say or ask:

· Is this your first time with us? Most guests will identify themselves by their curiosity with the space, through questions asked, or by stating that this is their first time.

· “You need to take your kids to childcare.” We want to create a safe space for all in worship. While some of us might have dropped our kids off with complete trust in a stranger, most people want to ease into a new church community. Therefore, we welcome crying babies and restless children in worship.

7. Sit with the person during worship.

If you have a family or spouse, have them sit with the guest unit too. Again, model the way!

8. Introduce the guest unit to pastoral staff.

If the pastoral staff is inaccessible before worship, be sure to make it a priority after worship.

9. After Worship: Acknowledge their visit. Invite them to lunch. You wouldn’t believe how inviting someone to lunch can have a tremendous impact.


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