Yesterday at Mt Vernon I received a comment from a first time guest that I hear at least once or twice a month. Speaking with a new guest about their experience so far at church, this gentlemen commented on how much he was impressed with our Host Team (up to recently referred to as our Welcome Team). To paraphrase him, “I am really impressed with all the greeters you have outside. Being greeted five or six times before I ever came through the doors meant a lot to me.”
One ministry that every church should have is a Host Team. (Some call it Welcome Team, First Impressions Team, Greeter Ministry or Guest Services). We call it Host Team because it is a team of volunteers dedicated to make sure that all people (regular attenders and guests alike) have a positive experience while on our campus. Every Sunday, upwards of a hundred folks will put on a lanyard and stand at various posts throughout our campus: all exterior doors, major thoroughfares and in our main lobby. You can’t get anywhere on campus without being greeted in a friendly fashion by dozens of folks.
But more than that, our Host Team doesn’t wait until you wander into the building on your own. Our Host Team starts in the parking lot, welcoming you as you exit your car and walk along our sidewalk. You’ll be greeted half a dozen times before you can even make it into our building. If you have a small child, one of our Host Team members will come up with a little red wagon and offer them a ride in, just to make their experience that much more spectacular.
Recruiting and training an effective Host Team is a ton of work, and we have a paid staff member dedicated to this very ministry. It’s not an afterthought for us. It’s front and center in our strategy to “create contagious communities of hope.” For us, it’s been an overwhelming success. Try it at your church and see what happens!