I’ve recently taken a leadership role in Guest Services with my Church, Northpoint, here in Austin, TX. While I’d never considered serving Guests in the past, it came to my attention last summer that there was a need within Northpoint and, as He often does, God wouldn’t let me forget that need was there. I met with the Lead Pastor soon thereafter and joined the Leadership Team, where I get to work alongside some really excellent folks who love God by loving people.
For those of you who know me, this will seem like quite the departure from what I’ve previously done, but when considering new direction, it seems like I’ve been training for this for a long time without even knowing it. Funny how these sorts “coincidences” happen.
Speaking of “coincidences”, this morning I was reading and preparing to lead a wonderful team of volunteers at Northpoint in a few hours. It just so happens, my daily reading landed me right where God wanted me today, 3 John, reading a letter to one of the pioneers of Church Guest Services written by one of Jesus’ disciples, something I never realized existed, even though I’d read it before.
In the book 3 John, we get a view of what Guest Services looked like in the early church. The Apostle John, late in his life, wrote this letter directly to Gaius, who from context we can infer was in charge of hospitality for his local church. The letter contains several other points, but this particular part jumped out at me so clearly, I just had to share it.
While a lot of people talk about looking to the Book of Acts for how best to grow a Church in a biblical model, when it comes to Guest Services, it seems obvious this letter from John to Gaius has everything we need to know about serving those God sends through our doors.
In verse five and six, John writes:
Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers and sisters, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church about your love. Please send them on their way in a manner that honors God.
So, right here, we see confirmation directly from one of Jesus’ disciples that Gaius not only understood how important Guests are to the church, but how important it was to treat them right.
If we look to Matthew 10:40, we see Jesus’ words, confirming this:
Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.
And in Matthew 25:40-45 we see it from another angle:
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
So we see how easy it is to understand the importance of serving our Guests to the best of our God-given abilities, regardless of our culture, time period, financial state or anything else that’s different today than it was in the first century.
Every week God sends countless people to the local church, most are hurting in some way, many are broken, all need a growing relationship with Jesus. If we can simply follow these guidelines, channel our inner Gaius and treat them as God would treat them, surpassing their expectations of what a Church experience should be will come naturally, and we’ll all be spiritually better off for it.
Thank you for all you do,