10 ways to improve your church’s hospitality

It’s a stereotype that’s been around for about as long as dear old Agnes who falls asleep in the second pew every Sunday – churches don’t do hospitality well.

We’re very good at opening our homes, providing an endless supply of quiches for the annual bring-and-share lunch and encouraging generosity. So why is it that we reach the front of the tea and coffee queue only to be confronted by a plate of dodgy-looking homemade cakes and tea horribly reminiscent of that middle-class painting luxury ‘eggshell white’?

Turn to the kids table, and you’d be forgiven for recoiling in horror. Biscuits (no chocolate ones in sight) which look disconcertingly like they may have already been licked, and weak squash. We don’t need to tell you why this stuff matters… and yes, of course you can be welcoming and still serve rubbish refreshments (or none at all). But why not take this chance not just to get your snacks in order, but give your church a full hospitality audit? It will make all the difference for strangers and visitors in your midst…

Get some decent biscuits. You don’t have to buy the most expensive ones on the shelf, but at least spring for some ones with (Fairtrade) chocolate on top. When Jesus turned water into wine he made it the best stuff, and the people will thank you.

Orange squash is not a priceless commodity. There seems to be an ingrained fear that any more than a drop of concentrated juice in the jug and we might have a national shortage on our hands. Rationing is not a thing anymore; treat everyone to something that doesn’t taste like stale water.

Only get people who are good to make the cakes. There’s a Maureen in every church who sacrificially bakes every week only to see her abysmal effort sit sadly in the corner, untouched apart from a couple of nibbles courtesy of an inquisitive child who later thought the better of it. Perhaps this is not Maureen’s calling, but Erik, on the other hand, is fantastic in the kitchen and has never been given the chance. Find your star bakers and get them on board.

A smile goes a long way. As important as a tasty selection of treats is, equally vital is having a few friendly faces dotted around the room and prepped to talk to anyone who might be on their own – including those seemingly engrossed in their phones. Chances are, they’re only checking Twitter to avoid the awkwardness of standing alone.

People not pamphlets. On that note, the welcome table needs to be more than a few lurid-green pamphlets stacked in the corner. Have at least a couple of people ready to chat to new people and be the face of the church for those who feel a bit lost.

Weak tea makes everyone sad. Ignore the guidelines – 3 teabags in the pot isn’t enough. And at the risk of sounding incredibly middle class, if the budget allows, get some real coffee in. The smell of a fresh brew is welcoming, if nothing else.

Get someone to manage your social media accounts. There’s nothing more depressing than a church account with only 12 followers and 2 tweets about the flower-arranging course you ran in 2011. Be a real online presence, and encourage people to get involved with all that’s going on in the life of the church. And while we’re at it…

Sort out the website. Make sure contact information, correct service times and a ‘where to find us’ are clearly available, correct and up-to-date. Don’t be one of the (worryingly high number) of church websites that are still advertising Olympic Games or Diamond Jubilee-themed outreach events.

Go a bit 007. Get a friend to come to church and ‘audit’ your welcome. It’s helpful to get an outsider’s perspective and to know where you’re starting from. What rituals need explaining? Is it obvious where the toilets are? Make an effort to explain (without over explaining!) things each week for the benefit of visitors.

Keep it personal. One of the hardest to things about going to a new church is not feeling known, so make an effort to learn new people’s names as soon as possible. If remembering’s not your forte – try adding a corresponding adjective to help you along, eg Handsome Harry. But for your own sake, don’t say it out loud.

(From Christian Today)

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

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Integrity

It is not what we eat
But what we digest
That makes us strong;
Not what we gain
But what we save
That makes us rich;
Not what we read
But what we remember
That makes us learned;
And not what we profess
But what we practise
That gives us integrity.

Very wise thoughts and words, indeed!

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

The Galloway Shepherd

Les Nichol was the last in a long line of Galloway Shepherds in Scotland.

He lived and worked on the Scottish Border hills all his days, tending to his sheep.

Les once spoke at the time of lambing:-

“It was fine if you were ‘in by’ and had a shed to take the sheep into overnight, but if you were out on the hills I just had to turn my collar up and pull my cap down and spend the night with my sheep.’

Didn’t you get bored, Les was asked. He ridiculed the very idea. It would be a very poor man, he insisted, who didn’t have enough in his head to think about for a night or two.

“And if ever I ran out of things to talk to myself about”, Les said, “well, that’s when I listened while the Lord did the talking.”

The greatest shepherd of all eventually called Les home.

One cared for humble sheep, the other cares for humble humans. I guess that they must have lots to discuss together!

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

Special Kindle Offer – 3 Kindle Books Available – for 99p each

Three of my best selling kindle books are now available for only 99p!

These are:-

My Walk With God: –

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00HAKO7L6

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The Life and Times of the Rev John Brown –

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Life-and-Times-of-the-Rev-John-Brown-Geoffrey-Keyte-ebook/dp/B00IG9BYO8

 

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The Christian Art of the Rev John Brown:-

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Life-and-Times-of-the-Rev-John-Brown-Geoffrey-Keyte-ebook/dp/B00IG9BYO8

 

Happy Reading

 

With many peaceful blessings

 

Geoffrey

To Everything There Is A Season

In the 1960s, singer and songwriter, Pete Seeger, took some much-loved words from the Biblical book of Ecclesiastes and adapted them to go with the haunting music he had written. The result was a massive hit, and an enduring song that has remained popular over the decades:-

To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose, under heaven.

Yet while things come and go, there are also special times for different people in our lives. Some are there for a specific reason at a specific time, perhaps in times of trouble, and then they move on as troubles pass. Some are there for a season. It may be that we can make special friendships, when our children are small, but as they grow older the ties loosen.

Others, like family, are with us for a lifetime and are probably the most important people of all.

While we take care to cherish the friends who come in and out of our lives, let’s not take for granted those who are with us all of the time.

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

Cleansed Demons: The Voice of Timothy

It was a Monday, and I had gone to the temple to offer praises and to worship God. I was dressed to impress, wearing my best bib and tucker, well you do, don’t you, when you go to the temple? I wanted people to know that I took this God stuff seriously and of course I wanted to be seen looking my best.

I walked in through the large oak doors, past a group of women and some lepers who were not fit to enter. I didn’t even acknowledge them, not even a tip of my hat or half a smile.

I took my seat,three rows from the front, with a good view of the proceedings, but not too close just in case I was asked to make a commitment to something or other. Well, you don’t want to do that, do you?

All was still and quiet, but then something changed. Something new had begun and I was desperate to be a part of it. Maybe not at first, but as time went on and as order turned to chaos, I did not want to be sitting three rows back any more, I wanted to be at the front. But wait, I am getting ahead of myself, let’s go back a bit.

As I have said, there I was minding my own business when there was a commotion at the door. I strained my neck to see what was going on, and then I saw Him, a man, youngish, plain looking, nothing to write home about really.

He was normal, like me, but not as well dressed of course. But He was surrounded by people. Everyone wanted a piece of Him. What was He saying that was so important? Who was He anyway?

Eventually people settled, and the young man stood up. He took the scroll, read from it, handed it to the attendant and sat down.

There was a hush of expectation, no-one hardly dared breathe and then He spoke. It was like nothing I had ever heard before.

His voice was soothing, interesting, meaningful, and He talked about God in a new way. In a way that somehow made God accessible, made Him more real, made Him interesting.

Everyone was hanging on His every word, including me. What was it about Him, what power did He have? What authority? What hope?

But then the spell was broken. There was another noise from the door, but this time it was not a welcome one. There was a man, scruffy and unkempt, loud and unruly, who staggered into the middle of the temple.

He pointed accusingly at the young man and moved towards Him threateningly. Officials from all sides stood and moved quickly towards them, ready to intervene. But wait – a silence, a calm hand in the air, like a slow motion picture, a smile, a few words and then stillness.

I watched the scruffy man, the one who had not been wanted, the one who didn’t fit in, the one who stood out, and I waited. He rolled on the floor as if in great pain, he made a scene; he behaved in an inappropriate way and yet Jesus walked over, bent down and helped him up.

The man was no longer shouting, or wagging an accusing finger, he was calm, like he was somehow a new person. Suddenly he was clean and whole.

What had happened that day? How did this young travelling preacher change a man? A man in need, and a man in a bad place, a man who came into the temple searching for peace, but was only met with our disdain. A man unclean, and yet Jesus met him and cared for him.

Healed him. Changed him. Loved him. And if I am honest I was changed too. I too wanted to be changed, wanted to be new, wanted to start again, hope again, live again. And Jesus, well He made all this possible.

(From In The Shadows of Victory by Becky Lovatt. Copies of this inspirational kindle book may be downloaded by going to:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00L9UYDKS)

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

 

 

 

Megan Thomas – Youth President-designate of Methodist Conference 2014/2015

Recently I spent a few hours with Megan Thomas, who is the Youth President-designate of the Methodist Conference for 2014/2015.

And, during Megan’s visit, I produced/edited a video for her which I would like to warmly invite you to view by clicking below:-

http://youtu.be/s59SyGQxefw

Megan has also contributed her ‘Walk’ to Volume 2 of ‘My Walk With God’ (to be published within the next few weeks).

 

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With many peaceful blessings

 

Geoffrey