Hospitality Can’t Take a Vacation

If you’re in charge of the guest services team at your church, chances are good that you are already feeling the pinch of summer. After a year like no other – and with lowering COVID numbers and rising vaccination rates – people are ready to escape the house and the monotony of the last 15 months. 

Whether your volunteers have fled to high ground or sandy shores or Disney or Great Wolf Lodge, you may be worried that there won’t be adequate coverage to make it to September. The only problem is that while your volunteers may take some down time, your guests won’t. Their version of down time will likely be checking out your church for the first time.

So how do you balance the drought of volunteers with the influx of guests? Here are six strategies to cope:

1. Refuse to relax your standards. The easiest thing to do is to clock out of quality for the summer. Drop a team here. Do without a volunteer there. However, that leaves your guests with a less-than-ideal experience. While your overall team numbers might be down, your campus coverage shouldn’t be. As you start the summer season, continue to think from the perspective of your guests and fight for their comfort. 

2. Get on your volunteers’ schedules. True, there are some people who decide to head out for a weekend getaway at the very last minute. But for the majority of people on your team, they’ve had vacation on their schedules for months. That makes it easy for them to get their vacation on your schedule, as well. Shoot a quick email to your team and ask about the weekends they’ll be out of town. That quick memory jog will keep you from a lot of surprises later this summer.

3. Go after your one-offs. Summer is a great time to ask people to serve who normally don’t. Ask people to fill in for a couple of weekends with no pressure to do anything else. Give them an easy win – mixed with low commitment – and watch the gaps get filled in. And who knows? You might just end up with a new volunteer who didn’t know how much they loved serving others.

4. Make it a team effort. Go after your Sunday School classes and small groups and encourage them to take one Sunday out of class to serve as a team. This can be a healthy break in their normal routine and help them have an others-focus.

5. Help them beat the heat. For those who are serving, keep in mind the uncomfortable conditions they’ll endure. Send reminders to your outdoor people to bring caps and sunglasses. Provide water, Gatorade, and sunscreen. Surprise them at summer’s end with a visit from the ice cream truck. Rotate them often so they’re not in the elements too long.

6. Send them off with a smile. Do not. I repeat: do not make your vols feel guilty for taking a break. In fact, you should make sure that everyone has at least a couple of weekends off during the summer, even if they’re not traveling anywhere. We don’t do our teams any favors when we lord over them like taskmasters. Rather, push them to enjoy some Sabbath time. That’ll pay off in long-term loyalty.

This post originally appeared on

Posted on June 25, 2021

Danny Franks is the Pastor of Guest Services at The Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina, and the author of People Are the Mission: How Churches Can Welcome Guests Without Compromising the Gospel. Read more from Danny at
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1 Comment

  • Robin G Jordan says on

    Churchgoing families, couples, and individuals often move to a new community during the summer. It is less disruptive to their lives, particularly if they have one or more children. They will not wait until the fall to look for a new church home. Churches that go on vacation during the summer, don’t offer a summer program for adults and children, cut back on hospitality, and the like, miss out. A lot of church members and regular attendess do not go out of town during the summer. They simply take a vacation from church. The summer slump is often nothing more than self-fulfilling prophecy. We convey to church members and regular atendees in various ways that they can take a break from church during the summer. Big mistake!! In the days before airconditioning low attendance during the hotter months was understandable. But that is not the case today. Churches need to plan for the summer as well as other seasons of the year. There are a lot of things that a church can do durng the summer, the kinds of things that help build relationships. In a century of declining church attendance churches that cater to the summer slump mindset instead of keeping attendance expectations high are digging their own grave!!