Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday Welcome

We don't have any new blogs this week. Instead of highlighting member blogs from our fabulous blog roll, instead I thought I'd respond to Justice Seeker's question below about lay leadership.

Our congregation has a staff position called Director of Hospitality and Welcome (formerly Director of Lay Leadership and New Members).

Our recently retired Director of Lay Leadership, Cathy, introduced a program called The Ambassadors a few years ago. Each "Ambassador" gets a snazzy name tag and a special annual training session about how to be welcoming. The training sessions cover what should be the basics like:
  • Greeting people you don't know in your pew and the pew around yours.
  • Not just chatting with your friends while you're standing at the door to greet new arrivals.
  • Lifting your head, smiling, and verbally greeting people as they walk into the church if you're at the welcome center, even if they seem to know where they're going.
  • Leaving your "station" to walk people where they wish to go, whether it's the Fellowship Hall, restrooms, or nursery, instead of just pointing the way and sticking your nose back into a book.

Ambassador name tags are different from the regular name tags provided for all church members. The special name tag and training sessions are - I suspect - to impress on the Ambassadors how serious and important this role is. You don't have to wear your Ambassador name tag all the time, just when you're "on duty" but many of us wear them whenever we're in the building. (We have a newly expanded building and a growing congregation, so the Ambassadors are especially important to help everyone feel welcome and comfortable.) We have door greeting Ambassadors, welcome center Ambassadors, pew Ambassadors, roving Ambassadors, stealth Ambassadors, etc.

The neatest thing is that the term of an Ambassador's service never expires and every year Cathy added new Ambassadors to the roster. She retired this fall, and at least half of the congregation must be trained Ambassadors already. Cathy was running four training sessions in the chapel each summer to accommodate all of us! I suspect that her secret master plan was to enlist the entire congregation as Welcoming Ambassadors.

If you're ever in the neighborhood, please drop by for a visit and let us know how we're doing.

(We also have a lay mission team called Micah 6, but that's getting into another post for another week.)


David R. Gillespie said...

I've seen this work very well in congregations of other faith traditions, too. I think it is something worth exploring no matter what size a congregation may be; I've observed that in smaller ones sometimes, everyone assumes everyone else is doing this and it, thus, never gets done. Good stuff.

Sarahlynn said...

One of the things my husband and I liked most about our congregation was that when we visited, the people seemed friendly but not too friendly.

We visited PC(USA) churches (my faith tradition) and UCC churches (his faith tradition). One lovely little UCC church in a neighborhood near our apartment was just great . . . except that the people were too friendly. We feared that if we joined we would immediately be pressed into service on every imaginable committee.

We were just graduating from college and starting our careers; we wanted to ease into church life as adults. So we ended up joining a church that seemed friendly but also healthy and thriving. Over time, of course, we still found ourselves serving on lots of committees. :)