Nancy Beach, Programming Director of Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago, explains the importance of those who play a hosting role in church service. It’s all part of delivering an exceptional welcome experience.
Whether you watch Matt and Savannah and Al in the mornings…or some other morning show crew, you may feel as I do – that these hosts become familiar, almost like family. We invite hosts from television into our home, into our lives, and over time we trust them to not only deliver “the news’, but also to make us feel like we are a welcome part of the ongoing experience, that we are “in the know” with what is happening in culture and in our world. We learn a little about their lives, and certainly have a sense that we “know” them though we have never been introduced.
Are there any parallels with those who play a “hosting” role in a church service? I think so. Maybe at your church you call this part of your Sunday experience by another name, but whatever you may label it, I am referring to an individual who guides us along through the morning, who is or should be so much more than simply “an announcements person.” The host may be asked to invite us into the experience early on, a version of “Call to Worship.” The host may be required to play a bridging role, guiding us from a moment in worship, leading us to a time of prayer or a reading of Scripture. And yes, the host also informs us of what matters in the life of our community, and may be asked to prepare us to give our offerings. I believe this is potentially one of the most impactful individuals who serves on Sunday mornings. The most effective hosts connect with the congregation. They are warm, genuine, thoughtful, and inclusive. They identify with those who are brand new visitors as well as with the veteran attenders. They guide us along in our morning, and the best hosts make it all feel seamless and easy. Here are a few questions I am often asked about hosts:
Who should be asked to serve as a host? The host can be a member of your staff or a volunteer. What matters most is that the host is a person who fully understands the culture of your church, and someone who has the gifts of communication and discernment to “read the room”. An effective host never violates a moment in church, but is able to extend the moment with just the right tone before moving on to whatever is next. The host is warm without being over the top or too perky. An added bonus comes if the host has a natural sense of humor, but also the ability to guide people into the presence of God through prayer and pastoral comments.
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Your partner in ministry,
P.S. – An effective host is just one aspect of a well-thought-out welcome experience. Another question to ask yourself – What if you could keep at least one more first-time guest each week for the rest of the year?
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