Church Hospitality Team Training [The Lobby Part 2]

In church, it's the Lobby that often hosts mingling before and after the worship service. In Altar Live, the same is true. The Lobby is the place where engagement deepens and where community is formed!

Hospitality means more than live streaming for churches

Creating a space for community online means going a step beyond simply streaming live church. While broadcasting online offers the opportunity to live stream church service, building real community means engaging through not just church streaming. It means face to face conversations and real personal interactions. This engagement can begin with your host and greeters.

In this series of articles, we're walking you through our Host and Greeters Guide. This mini church hospitality training will equip your team to better welcome, engage, and connect with attendees as they bring them into your community. You can find the full video series on the Altar Live Youtube page. However, these articles will guide you through the videos and detail step-by-step in how your hospitality team can foster a welcoming online environment for your community.

Church Hospitality Team Responsibilities

In this article, we'll go over a few key hospitality team responsibilities. These are potentially powerful ways to shape the online space in which you welcome your community. These tasks include:

  • Understanding the lobby
  • Incorporating church hospitality team tips into interactions
  • Using and navigating lobby features

Understanding the Lobby

At the end of your events, any member of your church hospitality team who has been assigned “Host” status is able to move the entire gathering from the auditorium where the event video or live stream has been playing to the Lobby.  

Now, just to reiterate: it is going to be wise for one of the Hosts or Greeters to make an announcement just before the event closes just to make sure that they’re ready to hang out in the Lobby! Just like in a physical church: when your service ends, your lobby is open for fellowship. And the same is true in Altar Live! A modal announcement, one that is right in the middle of the screen, is perfect for a time such as this. 

Taking a seat in the Lobby is just the same as in the auditorium: simply click on a seat at an available table, and they’re joined up with 3 other people in a private video conferencing session. 

Church Hospitality Team Tips

Just like in the auditorium, here are some best practices to help Lobby fellowship flow naturally: 

1. Name Tables

Consider inviting the pastor(s) to sit at a table to make themselves available. Click the pencil icon next to a table to edit the name -- Meet the Pastors, Meet Pastor Jim, Meet the Musicians, etc.  Create other tables with a particular purpose: Next Steps, Welcome Table, Newcomers. During the early weeks, even a Tech Support table for people with questions about using the Altar Live  platform. 

One table to think about: “Want to be a Greeter?”  You’ll always want more Greeters for Altar Live events. Give this label to one of the tables, and see who shows up. Make sure there is a Greeter there to greet them!

2. Encourage participation.

You will notice quite a few wallflowers at first, people that don’t want to join into the conversation. Many of them need some encouragement or a gentle nudge to try the tables for the first time. 

  • Go ahead and use the General Chat to commend individuals for making the first move, e.g. “I see Latandra and Sarah have jumped in. Nice going!”

  • Point out the table names in the Chat. Some people might miss the names, and others simply need their attention brought to it before they decide to join.

  • Recruit other cheerleaders. When you see two or three people at a table, go ahead and drop in and see how they are doing. If they seem comfortable, ask one or more of them to make a comment in the Chat that this is a great new aspect of doing church online. “Wow, these tables are fun. It’s so good to see people face to face!”

  • Join singleton tables. If you see someone alone at a table, drop in to say hello. They may be waiting for a specific person to join, or they are open to having anyone come by and spend a little time.

  • Make introductions. If there is room at a table, and they are open to including another person, connect with one of the “wallflowers” (signed in, but not seated) by direct message, and see if they would be interested in joining that table.  It is best to start with the table with an open seat, and then find a person. Otherwise, you may discover that you’ve invited the wallflower to join a table, but the only table with room is having a serious private conversation, and now there is an awkward encounter.

  • Conduct a poll. The Lobby is an ideal place for an ice-breaker poll. Use the poll icon on the right side to create a simple poll: favorite pizza topping, preferred vacation destination, best sports hero in your town, bible trivia questions. Invite people to join a table according to their answer, and they can explain why their favorite ice cream is vanilla or who thinks Tom Brady is the best vs. most-overrated quarterback. If one table fills up, go ahead and create another with the same label.

Hopefully this is just the beginning of some awesome engagement for you and your lobbies!

Using Lobby Features

Now that the ball is rolling, you’ve got a couple tools in your tool belt to really propel your events and equip your church hospitality team 

1. Encourage Attendees To Take a Seat.

Everyone watching the livestream sees a seating chart beneath the livestream video. But, until there are a lot of people sitting, many people choose to wait to see what others do. Who will be the first to sit? And who will join them? Your job is to help people overcome that inertia. Make sure YOU take a seat and have your camera turned on, as well as your microphone. Be ready and willing to chat with anyone logging in!

2. Use the General Chat

It’s going to be one of your best tools and the perfect place for your church hospitality team to reach out and connect with attendees 

  • Let people know that the seats are for sitting together and seeing each other face to face. Do this several times at the beginning of the event, since some people will be arriving late. They can actually see the entire General Chat, but some people will not scroll back to the beginning to read everything.

  • At specific breakpoints in the service -- after worship, after readings or announcements, take advantage of the shift to remind people about seating.

  • When you see some people take a seat after your encouragement, affirm them publicly in the chat. 

3. Get your church hospitality team to use Direct Messages

They’re incredibly powerful if used properly.

  • Make a personal, direct invitation to someone to take a seat. Make it simple, and don’t make it creepy!

  • Create a group chat with two or three people who you think will be open to sitting together, and invite them to take a seat. Offer to sit with them, and take a seat yourself ahead of them.  Let them know where you are sitting, including if you are on the left or the right. “I’ve taken a seat in the third row on the left. Come join me for a bit and we’ll try out the face-to-face seating.”

  • Identify some people already sitting in a row of just two people. Send a message to one or both of them, or join them in their row, and ask them if they recognize anyone in the Member list who they can invite to join in that row. 

4. Use announcements

There’s a number of different ways to use announcements to encourage engagement. Get creative! Have your church hospitality team use a Modal announcement at the beginning of your event to advise people to take a seat! Use a notification every 10 minutes or so to keep it in the forefront of their mind. There’s a lot of different and cool things you can do with them!

5. Use polls

Like announcements, polls are a creative way to get people engaged. Encourage your church hospitality team to use some light hearted icebreaker questions, like “how was your week?” “What’s the best part of this season for you?” You can turn the sermon or message portion of the event into a poll. You can then use a question and have people form groups to continue their conversations in the lobby after the event. 

And so much more. Polls and announcements are powerful tools when it comes to engagement. 

Final Thoughts 

As a church leader or a member of the church hospitality team, keep in mind that you may not see results right away.  Deepening engagement is an ongoing process that requires patience and perseverance. On Altar Live, your church hospitality team is equipped with a tool belt of features that will encourage participation and help create a thriving online community. True online community may not happen overnight, keep at it and remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint!