Church Hospitality: A Short Guide
Church hospitality isn’t just the right thing to do—it’s essential. Here are 4 practical ways to prepare for the 2 types of guests you should expect.
November 18, 2020
This Independence Day Sunday at your church is an opportunity to reflect on meaningful themes of liberty, independence, sacrifice, and belonging.
It can be a rich experience of unity that your church uses to create unforgettable moments of engagement, growth, worshipping God, and reaching people in your community with the gospel.
Use these eight tips to make the most of Independence Day at your church so that you can attract more people, deepen the maturity of your current members, and communicate to your church and local communities that you are invested in the meaningful moments that make us proud to be Americans.
Politics can be a tricky subject.
In an increasingly polarized political age, pastors need to be evermore winsome about the way in which they connect politics to the message of Scripture.
There is a clear overlap in that both concern human behavior—Scripture explains truths which governs human behavior and prescribes certain policies which direct human action and society.
However, because of the strong overlap between the world of Scripture and the domain of modern politics, it could be tempting to construe Christianity as belonging to a single party.
Refrain from doing this.
The duty of the preacher is to present the gospel—Christ himself is enough of a stumbling block: “For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:22-24).
This doesn’t mean the church can never talk about politics.
But Independence Day should, simply from a communications perspective—when you may have many visitors at your church—should be more about celebration than condemnation.
So win those in your audience by winsomely presenting Christ, not using the church as your personal political podcast audience.
This isn’t an opportunity for you to bash members with opposing political positions.
It’s an opportunity to celebrate the unity we share as citizens of the United States, which reflects an even greater unity that we have as brothers and sisters in Christ (Matthew 12:50).
Veterans know veterans.
Mid-spring is a good time to ask veterans to organize a committee to honor veterans on Independence Day.
This committee could be composed of veterans, active duty military, military spouses, or spouses of veterans who have passed away—all of these voices should be heard and all of these stories should be honored in some form during your church service.
By allowing veterans to organize this committee, you are enabling them to shape something appropriate to the day that expresses the genuine voice and experience of military professionals and spouses.
Of course, a church staff should be on the committee to liaison with the rest of church leadership that is planning the Independence Day service.
This committee should reflect at least a 2-5 minute segment during your church service that thanks those who have served and spouses for those who have served.
The deliverable of the committee is a clear protocol and schedule for that time slot in which the church can participate.
It would not be inappropriate to thank each active duty military and veteran in your church by name for their service.
People are generally very reverent of military service because of its clear high cost in the sacrifice that comes along with serving your country in a military role.
Members and visitors alike will be very respectful of this time, and it expresses a reverence for those in your congregation who have served and who represent the virtues extolled in Scripture as worthwhile.
It would be appropriate for the senior pastor to reflect on this moment with an exhortation for the church members to look to active duty military and veterans as examples of the moral fiber Scripture prescribes us to have.
Jesus says: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
The honoring of the sacrifice military members make is a great opportunity to explain the love God has for us in Christ.
Independence Day points to our fundamental American freedoms.
But those freedoms aren’t free.
They come at a cost.
There are many different angles you can take when preaching on Independence Day, but you’ll never go wrong preaching on the cost or entailments of freedom.
Freedom itself implies that we act a certain way.
With freedom comes the opportunity to waste one’s life.
The Apostle Paul says: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1).
The liberty purchased for us by the American Revolution is a freedom to make the most of our lives, and the risk that some of us will relax in the luxury of that freedom and fail to do anything meaningful with our lives.
People feel this weight when they see veterans honored.
They see the sacrifice that it is possible to make.
How much more of a sacrifice has Christ called them to make?
Jesus says: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt. 16:24).
Without Christ, we would be slaves to ourselves.
In Christ, we have the freedom to make much of Christ.
And in the United States, we have the freedom to make much of Christ publicly and unashamedly.
Cook the best food you’ve ever cooked.
Organize the best games you’ve ever organized.
The month before, every Sunday, tell church members to invite at least 2 people.
Sell the event with everything you’ve got.
Preach “invitation” every week leading up to Independence Day weekend.
Make sure there’s lots of meat and vegan/gluten free options for visitors.
Investing in this Independence Day Sunday party will give your church an Easter-like opportunity to grow, meet members’ families, and increase a sense of belonging and buy-in from your church community that community is in fact worth it.
There are two important logistical notes to make here.
First, you must capture a lot of new visitor information.
The best way to do this is through a church kiosk or through a digital signup sheet.
Make sure you get the visitor’s phone number, email, reason for attending, and person who referred them to attend the church.
This will give you all the information you need to make a meaningful follow-up contact with the visitor.
Second, make sure you give your visitors a reason to give their information.
Offer some kind of freemium (free gift) in order to incentivize them to give their information.
This incentive could be a free book, a gift card, entry in a raffle, free registration to the BBQ afterward, or free food vouchers to the food and drinks during the church picnic.
Independence Day Sunday is a great way to get new and uninvolved members to volunteer at your church.
Your post-church event should be so big and require so much man power that you need people to pitch in.
Find ways to need volunteers so that members have a reason to give.
If you do this, you will turn apathetic members into volunteers-for-life.
This volunteer opportunity can catalyze an opportunity to invest in the church that just needed to be sparked with a single volunteer opportunity.
People want to volunteer in church.
They want to be involved.
They want to be in the inner circle.
And volunteering gives them a way to do that.
So sell the fact that you need volunteers from the stage every Sunday until the Sunday before!
Capture as many new volunteers as possible so that as many people in your church as possible catch the “Volunteer” bug and you are able to get much more man power for future events.
You don’t have to host the fireworks, but you can tell everyone at the BBQ and in your bulletin:
“At [TIME] [DATE], we’re going to our local fireworks show near the [PLACE]. Contact [NAME] at [PHONE NUMBER] if you can’t find us.”
People often don’t know exactly who to go with, so your church can step into that “opportunity vacuum” and become the event toward which natural friend groups and church members gravitate.
This can also be an opportunity to bring more food and drinks, and for the church to build its reputation as a community that hosts and contributes to its community, rather than an exclusive club that people can’t access.
Will you let this Independence Day slip by as just another minor holiday?
Or will you capitalize on the opportunity to have an Easter-like boost in your attendance just by applying the right strategy to this Independence Day Sunday at your church?
Follow these 8 steps, and people will flock to your church this summer:
Summer growth really is that simple.