By Paul Wilkinson

Chatting with Sonnie the other day about hospitality in our groups, I began to reminisce about my Preaching Practicum in seminary. There were 8 students and the professor in this class, and we each, minus the professor, preached 4 sermons throughout the semester. These sermons were videoed so that we could watch ourselves and offer a critique of ourselves – that part was rough! However, the most brutal part was that the professor was not shy about grunting, moaning, or calling out in the middle of your sermon, both to simulate the normal chaos of a congregation and to get us on the right track.
For me, he would always say as I was preaching, “LOUDER . . . LOUDER . . . LOUDER!” His point to me was that I thought that I was speaking loudly enough, but I needed to quadruple that volume for the audience. We never are as extreme as we think we are being.
Apply this thinking to the hospitality in your groups: however hospitable you think you are being, it is likely not being received that way. . . so quadruple it!

  • Greet guests at the door and tell them that you are happy that they’re here.
  • Give all guests a sticky name tag and be sure that all group members have (and are wearing) name tags. (we will make these for you if you tell us what you need)
  • Introduce the guest to at least 1 other person in the group by name.

If you do these three simple things, then guests will feel welcomed and wanted in our groups. Just like I had to go beyond what I thought was loud for the sake of the audience, so too must our groups go beyond what seems hospitable for the sake of our guests.

Paul Wilkinson is the Adult Minister–Groups Associate, Brentwood Campus, Brentwood Baptist Church.