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Saint XYZ Orthodox Church, BrightFuture, PA
Ministry of Hospitality
Prepare our parish to attract and retain visitors.
Background/ Issues to be Addressed
In exploring our initiative we held a couple of parish conversations surrounding the theme elements “Growing in Faith, Sharing Our Faith, Welcoming Others”. Some conclusions…
- Our parish wants to grow but we don’t know why we’re not growing or what to do (or stop doing) to achieve that. As a result we’ve sort of given up.
- One obvious concern is that as a parish we don’t receive that many visitors. As a result we don’t have a lot of practice in welcoming.
- We believe our parish is ‘friendly’ -- but quite possibly we’re only friendly amongst ourselves. We can probably do better.
- We’ve never really talked about what guests actually encounter when visiting our church. How do we create first (or second… or more) impressions? With 8-10 Orthodox alternatives within a modest drive of our parish we need to ‘stand out from the crowd’ in a positive, memorable way.
- To be honest, some of us don’t know what to say to engage visitors- beyond the obvious. Conversations with guests can be awkward because we really don’t know what motivated them to visit, and what would motivate them to return, affiliate, and engage with our parish. What would they see missing in our parish? Who would be most attracted to our church?
- Learning to smile and be welcoming may not be enough –but it’s a necessary first step.
Based on the above, we decided on a two year effort that focuses on behaviors that are under our control. It doesn’t cover everything. If we do this well it will leave much left to be done. But we will have moved ourselves into a mode of actively working toward a brighter parish future.
Jayne R, John F, Sally M etc.
YEAR 1 GUEST AWARENESS
Becoming aware of and open to receiving guests/visitors/inquirers.
We’ll review and update how we communicate our parish and how guests receive first impressions. We will: examine our website/Facebook; the use of good photos on same; the experiences of guests who contact us by phone, email or in person and also physical first impressions like front door, parking, signage etc. We’ll ask for help from the Parish Development Ministry
Hospitality 101 Classes
We’ll prepare a couple of classes to help our parishioners be more hospitable. Perhaps….Class 1 - Understanding Visitors -- What are they looking for? What are their key questions? Class 2 - Dos and Don’ts of good hospitality and welcoming others. Before, during and after church.
YEAR 2 OPENING OUR DOORS
In year 2 we’ll focus on “Opening Our Doors” – taking actions and creating events that will attract inquiries and visitors. Year 2 actions will depend on what we learn in year 1. They may include:
Visitor Sunday, Reaching Lost sheep, intro to Orthodoxy class, outside speakers, Community outreach events, tours etc.
Identifying and training a few gifted parishioners as greeters.
A series of parish discussions/classes to help us feel less uncomfortable about inviting friends associates relatives and neighbors to church.