Albert Einstein is credited with having said, “The very definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome.” We know this. We believe this. Yet, we continue to act insanely. I am speaking of the church this morning. We recognize that we are in an underserved community. We recognize that we are shrinking and aging. We acknowledge that we have location, facility, and resources, yet, we continue to do the same thing. Hmmm.
Why am I hectoring you with this today? It’s an outgrowth of the newly formed Hospitality Team. Our work has been two fold thus far; thinking about what it might look like to focus on the community instead of ourselves, and what we need to do if we are to be in ministry with those who have yet to come through our doors. Here are some preliminary observations:
First, we need to focus on our first impression. The “ramp door” is the primary entrance to the building. Yet, it is cramped and congested. So, it is Hospitality’s intention to cut down on the congestion by closing the first Cook Room door and using only the one farther down the hall. The further intent is to reduce congestion by making the ramp entrance into the worship center a convenience for those who cannot use stairs, ie the main entrance from the Lobby. The goal is to move folks toward the Lobby (used to be the Narthex) where they can congregate and fellowship prior to the service. This will enable guests to grab some coffee and be greeted (not swarmed) by regulars. This will enable guests to feel more comfortable about getting into the Worship space.
The above will necessitate several changes (O Lord, here comes the insanity piece!). We will re-establish a team of Greeters whose job it is to welcome folks at the door and accompany them toward the Lobby. We will also re-establish a team of Ushers whose job it is to make sure guests have bulletins when they enter the Worship Space. We will begin passing the offering plate as a convenience to folks. The penultimate goal is to make it easy for guests to register their attendance with us. We can’t follow up with them if we don’t know who they are. It is simply too much to ask a first time guest to get up, parade themselves in front of the congregation, especially when they’re not exactly sure what to do, and place their registration in the plate on the communion rail.
Now, the heavy lifting. We are going to ask ourselves to begin wearing name tags again. But why, pastor? We know each other….When a guest comes into our midst, we have one name to learn. They have 40+. How’s that for hospitality? We also intend to enlarge our on-line footprint which will necessitate some change to the “Garage” to accommodate a bit of hardware, which we will need to purchase. While we’re at it, we will study the space in the rear known as the “Garage.” It is a great, yet wasted space. Should it be converted to a “Cry Room?” Should it be converted to a coffee bar? We will be in discernment about how that space can best be used to facilitate welcoming and assimilating our guests into the life of the congregation. Here’s the cruel truth: it’s not about us.
As you “sit” with this, let me invite you to consider a couple of things. First, most of the above is not new at all, rather it is simply recovering hospitality practices we used prior to the pandemic. The other is the insanity plea. We absolutely don’t need to do anything different. But know, we can’t expect any different outcomes. Is that the legacy we want to leave?
Our work in the gospel of John continues Sunday as we move toward Jerusalem, Holy Week, Good Friday, and Easter. Mark your calendar for our Good Friday service at 6:00 p.m. April 7.
See you Sunday,