Last week Martha and I were treated to a real blessing. We went to the Ritz Carlton Hotel in New Orleans and to the Pelicans – Spurs basketball game at the Smoothie King Center.
All of that was a gift from our church staff for Christmas. They certainly gave us a great gift and set it up in just the right way. They knew our schedule was free, and they knew we like basketball – – especially Martha.
During the game, Martha leaned over to me and said “I really like basketball.” I leaned back toward her and said, “I know.” We both had a great time at the game.
As we ate breakfast the next morning I kept thinking, “These people know how to do hospitality.”
Let me show you some things our visit to the Ritz Carlton taught us about church. Of course, they probably learned this from the hospitality of the Christian church.
First, our visit reminded us of the importance of names. Everywhere we went, we were “Mr. and Mrs. Bailey.” At each turn, someone knew our names.
Of course, they knew our names only because we were guests who gave them our room number. But what made that significant was that they went out of their way to know who we were.
Second, we were treated as people they genuinely wanted to be at their hotel. We were greeted repeatedly by people who looked us in the eye and said, “We’re glad you’re here.”
Over the years, I have learned to say to people, “Thank you for worshiping with us. We’re glad you came.” I often then say, “Please come back again.”
Sometimes that might seem a little over the top, but I think people want to know you are happy they came to church with you. We were certainly happy to be appreciated at the Ritz Carlton.
Sometimes people come to church with some strange ideas. I’ve even had people who honestly and seriously said, “Thank you for letting me come to your church.”
For most church people that seems very strange, but it seems to be reality in many people’s minds.
Third, everybody was in charge of customer service and attention to detail. We watched admiringly as people in suits walked throughout the building looking at everyone and every thing. We watched as they picked up the tiniest bit of paper and adjusted every vase of flowers and every piece of art on the wall.
None of these things cost much or took an inordinate amount of time, but they made a difference to us.
All of these things matter in any business. They especially matter in the church of the living God. We should be open and friendly, caring and attentive. We should care about every person, knowing that our Lord Jesus Christ died for everyone.
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