We considered our strategic plan, as we do every meeting, and how it applies to the various things happening at New Kirk Presbyterian. However, we all agreed that New Kirk Presbyterian needs a small victory at this point in her ministry and that we needed to pull our heads down from the ceiling in order to handle some low-hanging fruit.
We decided to shift focus onto the visitor. There are some folks already in place and doing wonderful ministry each week, greeting folks at the door and making all who enter feel welcome here first thing! We imagined and dreamed of possibilities together, sharing ideas and our own experiences. We determined that we should follow the lead of those God already has in place and doing great visitor ministry. Our big question became:
How do you cultivate a habit of hospitality into the minds and hearts of the congregation?
A "stretch goal" emerged:
Change the culture of New Kirk Presbyterian so that all respond automatically to visitors and make them feel most welcome.
Creating a habit takes all of the thinking out of a particular action; and that means it eliminates the angst and awkwardness as well. It's not enough to just sit on a "stretch goal." We needed a "S.M.A.R.T. plan":
- Form a group of 12 folks to learn, practice, and teach this new habit and process.
- Make sure elders also learn, practice, and teach this new habit and process.
- Collect information on visitors from the process.
- Celebrate a growing number of permanent name tags on the name tag tree, knowing that means visitors are finding New Kirk Presbyterian to be "THE Place..." for them.
- Session will use meeting time to learn and think through the process and habit.
- The 12 folks will meet to learn and think through the process and habit.
- Both Session and the 12 folks will gain experience and evolve the process and the habit in ways that make the most sense.
- Session has begun and will continue the conversation, understanding themselves to be leaders with the 12 folks in learning, practicing, and teaching this process and habit.
- The 12 folks have been identified and will meet on 11-SEP after worship.
- Supplies (Stick-on name tags and a notebook) will be purchased and available by 17-SEP.
- The door greeters will be notified and brought up to speed on the process at the conclusion of the 11-SEP meeting.
- The 12 folks will be in place and ready to roll by 18-SEP.
Concerned that you weren't identified as one of the 12 folks? Well, don't be. Just as a disciple is no more a disciple and follower of Christ than any other one of us, this habit and process is supposed to take root in everyone's heart, mind, and practice on Sundays. I've been clear with the 12 folks and with the elders that this IS NOT A TEAM OR COMMITTEE. Rather, this is a movement; and I believe God is calling all of us to practice and teach this process and habit here at New Kirk Presbyterian.
Yep! You've got it. That means you can begin practicing it too. And there will be a process in place to compliment that practice, which will begin on 18-SEP.
Oh, I bet you want know that the process and habit actually look like, don't you? It's super simple.
Imagine it's a Sunday morning on or after 18-SEP. A visitor walks in. The door greeters have walked the visitor over to a person serving at the desk, called a "Registrar." The "Registrar" makes the visitor a stick-on name tag. Now there's a new visitor walking around the lobby who is identifiable by the STICK-ON NAME TAG.
An elder, one of the 12 folks, or you--yourself--approach the visitor. Now what? This is where the HABIT KICKS IN. You don't have to think to yourself, "Now what?" The habit takes over. Let's use the acronym "C.A.L.M":
- (C)all the person by their name as you talk with them and get to know them a bit.
- (A)cquire relevant information for contacting the person. Either use your photographic memory, or don't be afraid to have a note card on-hand (or, of course, type it in your phone).
- (L)ead the person over to meet someone else in the congregation too.
- (M)ake sure the visitor has been well taken care of and has found his or her way comfortably into worship.
The final step in the overall process is to share the information you acquire with the "Registrar," who will record it in a notebook. The Care Team and I will use that information each week to follow up and further care for the visitor.
Cultivating a new habit of hospitality would be a small victory for New Kirk Presbyterian that would trickle down and affect all facets of God's work here. By focusing on the visitor and truly being hospitable to the souls God brings into our care will help us prioritize the way we approach all ministry at New Kirk Presbyterian. When we begin to view our strategic plan and all we do in committees, all of our worship and work, from the perspective of hospitality, I believe it will transform the culture of this place into something even more like God's kingdom. And that's the point, right?