Have you ever noticed that previously non-runner church attenders become runners as soon as you dismiss the service? People bolt for their kids, cars, and food after church, and that can cause a huge hole in your guest experience. It has been said “true hospitality is what you do when there’s no longer an expectation placed on you.” If this is true, hospitality isn’t fully developed in most churches, trained expected behavior is, and those are two very different things.

If you want to build an environment where hospitality is fully developed and an actual desire of members, not just a behavior, here are a few things that can help shift the culture in your church.

Encourage Conversation

We completely understand that post-service, people need to pick up their kids and filter out of the auditorium to make space for the next service/event. That doesn’t mean you can’t encourage some simple conversations on the way out the door. Perhaps invite people to talk with the people filing out next to them about what the service meant to them, or even just shake another hand and get to know someone a little more. This may not be the time for deep conversations, but a little bit of extra kindness can go a long way for a guest.

Welcome Center

Hopefully you asked people to turn in a Connect Card at least twice during service (announcements and at the end) so make sure your volunteers are ready to receive those cards and ask guest-centric questions. Some examples of questions that are centered on your guest include: What brought you in today? What did you think of today’s service? Did you find what you were looking for? Is there anything we can help you with?

Kids’ Ministry Checkout

Guests with children are going to have to pass through your Children’s Ministry on the way out, so take that opportunity to make sure you engage with them. Have Connect Cards and Guest Gifts on hand in the Kids’ Ministry so any guest who didn’t make it to the Welcome Center has another opportunity to fill out a Connect Card and receive your free gift.

Sweet treats

Some churches have “donuts after service” or “cookies after service.” It creates another opportunity for human interaction at the end of your service. Consider having a tray of cookies and some coffee available after your services for people to enjoy on the way out.

End Strong

Having Volunteers in place when your service ends takes a little more effort, but it leaves a nice last impression on guests. Make sure door greeters and the parking lot team are all in place at the end of your service. You started with a smile, now end with one too!

Hospitality takes intentionality, so don’t forget to think through the last 5 minutes of a guest’s experience on your campus.