Three ways success can be defined in church hospitality

By Rebecca Carlisle

In Amsterdam, Church leaders shared stories about how conversations about faith were happening because of hospitality … Hospitality is a counter cultural idea … Perhaps because it is so rare in our times, hospitality beautifully expresses God’s vision for human relationships.” – Gabe Lyons, Good Faith, 2016

1. It’s not defined by numbers.
If your church’s focus and priorities are loving God and loving people, then everything else should fall into place. It’s really not as difficult as we often attempt to make it. Identifying success in hospitality this way isn’t taking the easy road, rather, it’s taking the road less and less traveled these days. It’s the kind of success that comes from doing the hard work cultivating community inside and outside of the church walls.

If your church is anchored in loving God and loving people–evangelizing, making disciples and caring for the community–then your church will grow. 

However, we often get overly distracted.

“They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind” (Hosea 8:7). 

For the Church, that means that if you lose your focus and always try to create entertainment over creating an encounter with Jesus, you may have quick growth in numbers, but not in disciples.

2. It can be defined by sharing stories.
We can talk all day long about success stories.

We can talk about how people come to our church and are constantly talking about the warmth of the welcome and the depth of community they feel. How they were going to a larger church down the street, but felt way more “a part” here.

We can talk about the preacher’s kid who left the church 15 years ago, but came to our church with a friend and then came back the next week because of how welcomed she felt.

We can talk about the young man who is raising his son by himself, who needs a new job to get away from old temptations, and the church that rallied around him, prayed for him and mobilized to get him that job.

We can talk about the pastor that gets gas for people in need and puts them up in a hotel for the night, and the congregational nurse who helps community members get disability.

 We can talk about the young lady who drove around the church every Sunday for six months before getting the courage to actually park and walk into the building. How she was greeted by a host team member who helped ease her fears and eventually become a host team member herself.

We can talk about the small church plant that is intentional about making a big impact on their community so they are pouring into their guest services ministry and doing the hard work with a mega church down the street, but making sure their community knows they are there, by loving God and loving people.

But, you can’t share the stories of the people you don’t know. Church hospitality ministries should cultivate community so stories can be created, shared and celebrated.

3. There is success even if guests don’t join your church 
I love hearing people’s stories and experiences of how they have felt welcomed and included in church.

But, what if that preacher’s kid who hadn’t been to church in 15 years, who came back twice, didn’t come back to our church, but went to another church–is that a success?


Success in hospitality is people authentically and consistently experiencing God so they are open to what He has for them, whether it’s at your church or another one.

What you’ve been faithful to sow initially, will be reaped in eternity.

If they don’t come back to your church, fine. But, at least you’ve opened them up to Church and to Jesus.

You’ve invested in developing a guest services team with the right people in the right places who are well-equipped.

That committee has influenced the church culture opening guests up to the possibilities of abundant life with Christ!

That is success.

Hospitality isn’t a new idea, rather an old one that has become counter cultural. Church hospitality is what led to the original church growth in Acts, and on into the Middle Ages, through the Industrial Revolution.

It was the Church that was giving orphans and widows homes and support.

It was the Church that helped the homeless and those unemployed.

It was the Church that brought dinners to families in need.

It was the Church that helped restore what was broken.

That’s what led to revivals and growth–not entertainment. With so much high tech these days, what people need is “high touch,” or someone who will take the time to talk, listen, pray, do life with and for them.

Our nation and world is desperate for this from the Church once again, or it will continue to look elsewhere.

People looking to Jesus is success in church hospitality. 

Published May 30, 2018

Rebecca Carlisle

Rebecca Carlisle is a Christ-follower, wife, mom, teacher, preacher’s kid and church hospitality enthusiast. She desires to equip the Church in shaping culture through gospel-ing people with biblical hospitality. Follow her on Twitter: @tobereceivedmin.