Mind the Corners!

Some summers, things at Live Oak kind of slow down. But not this year! And especially with our hosting the Queer EmPower Pride Conference and Festival on July 15, we are expecting lots of visitors to our Sunday services.

Every Sunday, potential new friends and church members walk through our doors. They are looking for an “unambiguously progressive” community where they can raise their families, do social justice work, explore their beliefs, and make lifelong friendships.

It takes a lot to walk into a new church for the first time. All those people, and it seems like so many know each other!

Every member of Live Oak should consider themselves a “host” on Sunday, responsible for welcoming in our guests, showing them around, and answering any questions they might have. Wayne McCullough modeled this perfectly this past Sunday – he brought a couple over to meet me, waited while we talked, then escorted them into the Fellowship Hall to have coffee and meet others.

So what specifically should you look for?

  • The “corners.” Many people exit through the narthex doors at the back, where I, or members of that week’s HoMe team can chat with them. But others might leave through the side doors. If you see someone there and they seem open to conversation, say hello, ask what brought them here, see if they’d like a tour, or some coffee.
  • “The most dangerous time.” Experts on church hospitality say the most dangerous time (to lose visitors) is the first five minutes after the service ends. New folks may feel awkward, and not sure where to go. This is the time to go over, introduce yourself, and see if they’re interested in meeting others, getting coffee in the Fellowship Hall, etc.
  • Before the service: when you arrive, it will ALWAYS be a gift if you look at the white board with the HoMe team members, find one, and ask if they need help. Especially in summer when people are traveling, we really need extra greeters.
  • Front Door: speaking of greeters – look at the big double doors. Is there a greeter there? If not, please take it upon yourself to welcome people in!
  • Anyone looking alone. Really, this applies to brand new visitors, or longtime members. If someone is alone, go over. Strike up conversation. Are you shy or an introvert? Don’t worry, most of us are. We can still be warm and friendly.

We don’t want to be overbearing, of course. But I think we may give that more weight than is needed. If someone is clearly trying to get out the door, of course, say “It was nice to see you here” and send them off with a wave.

But for most people, some friendly Live Oak hospitality is just what’s needed. We are all part of the Hospitality and Membership (that’s what HoMe stands for!) team.