Hospitality means more than live streaming for churches
Creating a space for community online means going a step beyond simply streaming live church. While live streaming for churches offers the opportunity to broadcast their messages, real connection means engagement with not only church streaming but also with one another. This engagement starts with your community's 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.
Hospitality Team Responsibilities: #1 Deepening Connection
What are the roles and responsibilities of the hospitality team? We might have a more clear understanding of what this looks like in-person, but what about in an online church setting? For church streaming to shift from a broadcast to engagement, it requires the same intentionality required in-person as well.
At the heart of it, the core mission is the same: deepening connection.
When you are a part of the church hospitality team as well as a host or greeter, what you are really doing is helping to deepen the experience your members and visitors have in our events and lobbies.
Let’s talk about the main reason we’re online as hosts and greeters: to engage.
The heart of an experience in Altar Live is through small group video conferencing, and it’s almost certainly the reason your church is adopting the platform.
And it’s our task as a church hospitality team to deepen our conversations and our relationships!
💡 Tip: A great way to deepen engagement is to write a welcome letter to new members! For sample welcome letters and fellowship ideas for church welcoming, read the full article Your Church Hospitality Team's Sample Welcome Letter [+ Online Fellowship Ideas]
Hospitality Team Responsibilities: #2 Understand the Space
Rows, tables, and rooms are an integral part of an Altar Live event. In a church building, no one in your church hospitality team really needs to draw a map or usher people to where they want to meet up with others. However, while online, people may need a little help, a little nudge, and maybe even a little encouragement.
This is where your presence as a church hospitality team member calls for more than just a smile and a friendly face.
And engagement happens easily in the rows, tables, and rooms that we provide in Altar Live. Think of each of the spaces in Altar, the Auditorium and the Lobby with Tables and Rooms, as different areas for different types of interaction; places where your church hospitality team can really serve the community.
The Auditorium is a more formal space, similar to your sanctuary. This is where people are mostly listening to something together, worshipping, reflecting, and absorbing. In the Auditorium, Rows offer the sense of being together. There is an energy in gathering together. In fact, it is not unusual for most people to not sit during the livestream.
The Lobby is a more organic space, similar to your fellowship hall or the lawn outside a building. This is where people can mix and mingle at Tables to have a side conversation in groups of 2, 3 or 4 people. Or you can gather people in a larger Room together with up to 500 people at a time where everyone can talk and contribute, more like a classroom. Your church hospitality team can really make an impact in this space.
Hospitality Team Responsibilities: #3 Encourage Participation
Now, the biggest question you might have as a Host is… how do I motivate more people to take a seat? There is no need to force or compel anyone to take a seat. But there are ways to encourage it.
First, why might someone not be taking a seat right away? As a member of your church hospitality team, it’s important to understand the problem before you solve it.
- Some people may want to remain anonymous. This may be due to the fact that they have not found any good reason to sign in. Your suggestions and invitations in Chat might move them to sign in, but don’t feel you need to ‘convert’ them.
- Some attendees will choose to remain on the side. They are not comfortable on camera (or, maybe just not today), or they find it somehow odd to be looking at their online neighbors face to face while listening to the worship, readings and sermon.
- Some of the unseated people are simply waiting for the formal service to end, and will join face-to-face at tables in the Lobby.
- Some might need a reason to take a seat with someone else. When you walk into a room of people in person, you rely on the Host of the event to be directed to seats and for timing. This is where the job of the Host as a facilitator is most important.
🗒 Remember: Being a part of a church hospitality team is not limited to just greeting, but instead you should facilitate conversation, community, and real life happening all around you.
Leadership Tips for Your Church Hospitality Team
A few tips for your church hospitality team that may inspire and encourage them to change the way we see online communities.
1) Purposefully Host
Introduce yourself in the main chat so everyone knows who you are. When people join your event or meeting for the first time, they might subconsciously be looking for who is in charge or who they can ask questions to. Also, purposefully try to connect your attendees to each other..and make introductions over direct message or in a row or table together. Help warm people up to each other
2) Be Specific
Answer the unspoken questions of Why are you gathering today? Or What are you going to be doing during your time together? It might seem silly, but for first time visitors and for regular attendees, reminding everyone of why you are sharing this time together helps set the tone for the entire event. And letting them know what to expect during your time together will make transitions and event planning a bit easier.
3) Give Directions
ALWAYS make sure that you’re letting people know what's happening NEXT. Help them follow along and give them directions about what to do next.
4) Show, Don’t Tell
Model interaction by doing it yourself. Take a seat. Post in the chat. Answer the polls. Talk about announcements. Always be responding to others. This is the best way to instruct, by showing your attendees what to do!
Being a part of a church hospitality team can be like pulling teeth. It can be hard trying to encourage people to participate or enter into your church community. However, it is important to remember that creating true community is a marathon not a sprint. You can’t rush real connections so don’t be discouraged if you don’t see participation and involvement right away. It takes time and that’s okay.
Want to learn more about how Altar can transform how you bring newcomers into your church community?
You will learn how you can:
- Engage with members through a dynamic video conference experience
- Schedule multiple meetings at the same time with a single account
- Integrate attendance with your ChMS
- Get access to online small group training and best practices
An engagement consultant can teach you an effective workflow for your church. You can bring your entire team and receive a demonstration on how to increase engagement within your community.
This article was originally posted 12/22/2021 and updated 11/15/2023