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Smiling is Not Enough: The Top Ten Mistakes Your Volunteers Make Welcoming Guests at Church

The team at Auxano enjoys playing the role of “secret worshipper” when we take a church through our visioning process called the Vision Pathway. We call it a guest perspective evaluation. As I prepare to debrief a church again tomorrow, I want to share some general insights on welcoming ministry and hospitality for guests.

Here are the top ten mistakes I see when volunteers are helping me as a first time guest:

1. Volunteers have not thought in advance about my next step as a guest so they don’t know how to guide the conversation with me. 

2. Volunteers  are talking with friends and don’t notice me.

3. Volunteers are doing task work and are not available or responsive the moment I show up.

4. Volunteers generally hesitate when I initiate with a question. 

5. Volunteers don’t know where the most pertinent information is located.

6. Volunteers  tell me what to do with no information or tools or other people to help me.  

7. Volunteers generally look preoccupied, distracted or unsure of themselves in their non-verbals even when being friendly.

8. Volunteers are unaware of the basic “how to” questions for checking-in children of every age.

9. Volunteers don’t introduce me to others at the church.

10. Volunteers gave me written information that is not important, pertinent or strategic (sending me on a b-line to the trash can).

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Will Mancini emerged from the trenches of local church leadership to found Auxano, a first-of-kind consulting ministry that focuses on vision clarity. As a “clarity evangelist,” Will has served as vision architect for hundreds of churches across the country, including such notable pastors as Chuck Swindoll and Max Lucado. Will holds a Th.M. in Pastoral Leadership from Dallas Theological Seminary and has authored Church Unique: How Missional Leaders Cast Vision, Capture Culture and Create Movement; he also co-authored Building Leaders with Aubrey Malphurs.