Church Hospitality and Growth

What is hospitality? It is the friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers. Or, it is the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way. It is the church’s inherent function as the church to be an organization of hospitality. William Temple said, “The Church is the only organization that exists for the sake of people who are not its members.” This is precisely why the church ought to act out of a mindset of hospitality.


  • Most visitors have decided if they will return to a church before the service begins. You have 6 minutes to make a positive first impression.
  • People who stay in a church after six months know 7 or more people; those who leave know less than 3.
  • The longer a person is a member of a church, the LESS likely it is that someone will call if they stop attending.

We are the Church:

  • We are not in the membership business. We are in the discipleship business.
  • Hospitality precedes growth
  • It is a matter of Character

Four Areas of Hospitality:

  • Facility
    • Is it Clean?
    • Is it accessible?
    • Is it well marked?
    • Is it meant to be used?
    • Is it welcoming?
  • People
    • Are they polite?
    • Are they knowledgeable?
    • Are they ready to serve?
    • Are they inviting?
    • Are they willing to accommodate strangers?
    • Will they take the initiative?
  • Activities
    • Are they welcoming?
    • Are they accessible?
    • Are they appropriate?
    • Do they meet the needs of visitors?
  • Communication
    • Is it clear?
    • Is the language appropriate?
    • Is it controlled?
    • Is it accessible?
    • Do you expect visitors?

“Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2

Preparing for Change in Your Congregation

Preparing for Change in Your Congregation

“Times and conditions change so rapidly that we must keep our aim constantly focused on the future.”
~Walt Disney

Rev. Cheol Soon Park, the Moderator of the 134th General Assembly said, “Change is not an option anymore, it is an imperative…It is time to change our understanding of church, ministry and worship service.”  Rev. Park challenged everyone in the Presbyterian Church in Canada to try one new thing this year…one thing that is necessary, yet has never been tried for various reasons.

Why Do We Not Want Change?

  • We don’t want to fail
  • We don’t want to lose something
  • We don’t want to change our identity
  • We fear change itself
  • Change might bring conflict

Why Should We Change?

  • Change is inevitable
  • Change is no longer optional
  • Change is necessary for renewal and revitalization

Steps for Healthy Change:

  • Have a vision
  • Define your changes
  • Plant your vision with key leadership
  • Share your vision with the whole church
  • Implement your changes
  • Deal with the opposition
  • Make adjustments
  • Evaluate and celebrate the results!

Conflict Resolution Styles

Conflict is not a distant stranger to churches! But knowing and understanding your own conflict resolution style and honing in on appropriate strategies, can take your church to the next level. Check out this handy chart! You ultimately want to go beyond compromise to collaboration to reach your maximum potential as an individual and as a church.

conflict resolution style

Session and Board of Managers Roles

Ever wonder the difference between a church session and the board of managers? Or why there is so much conflict between the two at many churches? Check out this quick guide to the specific roles of each and how to clear up communication between your session and board!

Session (Citations are from the Book of Forms)

  • 109 It is the duty of those who are called to the eldership to meet regularly with the minister for the purpose of establishing good order and providing for the pastoral care of the congregation. All who are members are subject to the authority and discipline of the session.
  • 2 The session is responsible for all policy and procedures with respect to the use of the church buildings and property subject to the provisions in sections 114.6 and 163.
  • 113 The session is responsible for all aspects of stewardship and mission, both spiritual and material, within the congregation.
  • 6 The session is responsible for all decisions relating to stewardship, including how and when the financial needs of the church at all levels are to be presented to the congregation so that the programs of life and mission may be supported adequately.

What does this mean for the Session?

  • Leadership
    • The Session oversees the Church
    • Doing the right things
    • Future oriented
    • Ministry oriented
    • Supporting the ministry of the church
    • Setting the example
  • What are the policies and procedures with respect to the use of the church building and property?
    • Is it welcoming?
    • Does it become the church?
    • Does it match our values?
    • Communicate these with the Board of Managers.
    • Remember you are on the same team as the Board of Managers – you build up or break down the church together.
    • Money isn’t everything!



Board of Managers (Citations are from the Book of Forms)

  • 162 The duties of the board of managers have special regard to the temporal and financial affairs of the congregation. It is their duty to co-operate closely with the session, which is responsible for all aspects of stewardship, in encouraging the liberality of the people in support of the congregation’s total ministry, and to disburse all moneys received for this purpose, subject to the approval of the congregation; to provide for the payment of the minister’s stipend and other salaries; and generally to administer all matters committed to their charge as the congregation may from time to time direct.
  • 163 It is the duty of the board of managers to care for the place of worship and other ecclesiastical buildings, and to see that they are kept in good condition and repair.

What does this mean for the Board of Managers?

  • Management
    • Doing things right
    • Doing things transparently
    • Doing things effectively
    • Doing things efficiently
  • How does the Board of Managers care for the financial affairs of the congregation?
    • Care is foremost!
    • Forefront of ministry of hospitality!
    • Is it appropriate?
    • Is it done right?
    • Money isn’t everything!
    • Support the decisions made by session!
    • Communicate with session!
    • Remember you are on the same team as session– you build up or break down the church together.



Church Best Practices

Here are a few best practices that suit one specific diocese of the Anglican Church. For further information, William Easum’s The Church Growth Handbook, also provides a number of helpful indicators for healthy and viable ministry. A congregation is healthy when:

  • Income
    • Over 70% income comes from freewill offering
    • More than 50% of congregational income should come from more than 1/3 of identifiable givers
  • Expenses
    • 10% of expenses go to program costs
  • Personnel
    • 1 pastoral/program person (as opposed to administrative or maintenance) per 100 Sunday attendees
    • 100-200 Sunday attendees = full-time secretary
    • Between 150 and 180 Sunday attendees, the congregation adds another pastoral staff person in order for it to continue to grow
    • 300-400 Sunday attendees will require a full-time director of music
    • More than 500 Sunday attendees will require adding a business administrator
  • Property
    • Up to 80% of usable worship space is used on Sunday
  • Choir Size
    • There is 1 choir member for every 10 people in the pews
  • Stewardship
    • Freewill offering represents 2% of total household income
    • The amount that goes to Presbyterians Sharing is equal to 5% of freewill offering
    • 40% of the congregation participates in the Pre-Authorized Giving program

How to Teach “Leading with Care”

I was privileged to see this light hearted introductory skit highlighting the importance of the Leading With Care policy at Oakridges Presbyterian Church in London Ontario.  Thank you to the author, Rev. Jane Swatridge, for allowing us to post this resource and giving permission to other congregations for it’s use. ~Tori Smit

Leading With Care: On Gilligan’s Island


It is now time for our Leading with Care presentation, and I’m sure it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before!

But please understand that although we may have a little fun with the policy today, the message is important for the continued safety of our church family and those we serve. Watch and learn, and enjoy!

Leading With Care: On Gilligan’s Island

(Play the “Gilligan’s Island’ theme song.  Gilligan & the Skipper appear at top of verse 2; rest of cast appear at, “five passengers set sail that day …”  Pantomime the storm at verse 3, “The weather started getting rough …”, mimicking being tossed around on stage, etc.  Then cast members step forward, acknowledge crowd as their character is mentioned.)

(After the song ends the pantomime continues with the Howell’s ‘chat’ quietly with each other counting their money; Gilligan, Mary Ann & Ginger ‘chat’ excitedly as Gilligan picks up picnic basket; Professor notices something on the ground, bends to examine; Skipper notices Prof’s actions, then turns to Gilligan]

Skipper: What are you up to, little buddy?

Gilligan: The girls & I are going on a picnic to the other side of the island.

Mary Ann: I’ve packed us nuts, and fruit, and I made my famous coconut cream pie!

Ginger: And I’m the scenery.

Prof: I’m not sure that’s a good idea.

Thurston: But she’s always the scenery. (Lovey glares) Sorry Lovey, here (hands her some money).

Prof: No, I’m referring to these prints I’ve found here in the sand.

Skipper: What is it, Professor?

Lovey: Looks perfectly harmless to me.

Prof: Why, Mrs. Howell, don’t you realize what this means?

(everyone reacts, looks stunned, confused, shrug shoulders, etc.)

Prof: Why, judging from the unusual size and shocking depth of these footprints, and the apparent direction and pace of perambulation, before you can go picnicking anywhere, you’d better prepare a (look to audience) RISK ASSESSMENT.

(Mary Ann cowers beside Gilligan, Ginger cowers beside Skipper, Thurston cowers beside Lovey for protection)

Gilligan: Do you mean, Professor, that we can’t just do whatever we want …

Mary Ann: whenever we want …

Ginger: with whomever we want …

Lovey: without completing one of these? (brings Risk Assessment form out of purse) Well, that’s ridiculous!

Prof: Mrs. Howell, that’s precisely what I mean.

Thurston: Now look here, my good man. I’m Thurston Howell the Third, and I don’t fill in any forms. I have people to do that.

Prof: Mr. Howell, if you want to stay safe, I’m afraid you’ll have to. Why, all our lives may depend on it.

(Thurston harrumphs indignantly)

Lovey: Oh there there, maybe you can pay someone to do the form for you.

Gilligan: Do we all have to fill them out?

Mary Ann: For everything we do around here?

Ginger: What do you consider, risky, Professor?

Lovey: My yes, are we safe here?!

Prof: Absolutely. But we must understand that certain activities involve RISK.

Skipper: Well, like what sorts of things, Professor?

Mary Ann: Oh, how can a friendly picnic possibly have any risk?

Ginger: Come on, Professor, just one teensy, weensy little picnic?

Thurston (to Lovey): Where in the blazes were the tickets on sale for this picnic?

Lovey: We almost went down in a storm on the Thames, and he’s worried about a picnic!

Gilligan: Yah, she’s right – Skipper, whatever happened to the pre-tour Risk Assessment?

Skipper: Well, I thought YOU did one…

Gilligan: … I didn’t do one – I thought YOU were going to do one …

Skipper: No, little buddy, YOU were supposed to do one …

Gilligan: Uh-uh, I’m not trained on the paperwork, YOU were supposed to do one …

(they keep arguing until cut off by Thurston)

Thurston: I KNEW we should have just bought our own boat & crew!

Mary Ann: Well, it’s not Gilligan’s fault if he wasn’t properly trained.

Ginger: Ooo, training is everything. I mean, that’s the difference between a Golden Globe … and an Oscar!

Prof: There are important things to consider in every case. Mary Ann, do you know for certain that those nuts and fruits are safe for everyone to eat? I mean, did you check for allergies?

Mary Ann: Well, no, but I’m sure we’d find out one way or another.

Prof: And what about food preparation? Did you wash your hands, and ascertain that the utensils & working area were clean?

Mary Ann: I brushed off the sand as best I could. Back home in Kansas, we just wipe our hands on our pants.

(Howell’s & Ginger turn up noses/cringe; men just nod in agreement, ‘oh yah, that works’, etc.)

Prof: And Ginger, were you really planning on hiking to the other side of the island in that gown, with those shoes?

Ginger: What’s the problem? They match.

Gilligan: Well, you do look like an Incident Report ready to happen.

Skipper: Good thinking, little buddy.

Prof: And Gilligan, as the leader of the picnic group, have you considered the appropriate ratios of leader to number of those in your party? What about your Criminal Record Check? We haven’t checked all your references yet. And what about the vulnerability of those you’re caring for?

Gilligan: They look pretty sturdy to me.

Thurston: On second thought, think I’ll go back to our cabin and lock the door. Coming, Lovey?

Lovey: Oh you’re not worried, are you dear?

Prof: As long as we’re prepared, and we’ve considered all the risks, we’re perfectly free to proceed with virtually any plan.

Ginger: You mean, like a quiet, scenic picnic.

Mary Ann: Or sharing a meal together.

Gilligan: Or a simple little hike in a ball gown.

Skipper: Not quite, little buddy.

Prof: But about these footprints. We’re obviously not alone on the island (everyone looks around, wide-eyed, scared & suspicious).  Ladies, you stay here. Mr. Howell, you come with me and we’ll conduct a reconnaissance mission.

Skipper: And Gilligan, you come with me and we’ll conduct a reconnaissance mission.

Gilligan: Ok, but I really think we oughta scout around a bit first.

(girls exit stage right, Prof. & Thurston exit stage left; Skipper & Gilligan exit stage right)

Voiceover: Sadly, they remained on the island, marooned there forever. What a positive difference it would have made had they invested in training and planned ahead appropriately for the tour. Oh well …

Theme Song resumes

When Kids Ask Tough Questions

Hey, Have I Got A Question For You!

The Art of Asking and Answering Difficult Questions With Children

Why do we ask questions?

We ask all sorts of questions in Church School.  If we’re asking questions, why are we asking them.  Some of the reasons are:

  • to check in and find out what children have learned (or not learned)
  • to hear if there are concerns or issues that require further conversation and/or explanation
  • to prompt debate
  • to prompt deep thinking
  • to experience God

The art of asking questions:

Good questions open up the room to great conversation.  We don’t want to simply recite questions and receive the ‘correct’ answers.  We hope that the subject energizes the room and together we grow in our knowledge and experience of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and kingdom of God living.  These thoughts should help you plan for better questions and discussion that moves us into new realms of experience:

  • ask open-ended questions, not closed, one-word answer questions
  • ask one question at a time and resist the urge to add on even more questions hoping one of them might resonate with the class. With too many questions at once children become overwhelmed with the options
  • present questions to the whole group, not to individuals
  • provide positive feedback on the answers your receive
  • follow-up answers with more probing questions, inviting the group to dig deeper into the subject
  • be silent; let the question resonate and good thinking to occur. Don’t try and fill the silence assuming your question wasn’t well presented or with your answer so things keep moving along.  Leave time for deep thinking
  • use an inquiry style, don’t interrogate
  • encourage participants to ask their own questions of each other
  • encourage conversation across the group and away from you
  • accept responses as a gift

There are three types of questions:

  • information
  • analytical
  • personal

By ensuring all types of questions are asked, often moving from the first type, on to the second and finally spending quality time discussing the third type we help participants personalize their learning and growth in a non-threatening way.

Invite difficult questions:

These are the questions we often fear, but they are also the questions that help us move from knowledge about God to knowing God.  They require honesty and deep care  and compassion for everyone in the group.  Setting an inviting tone for such questions helps your class to become a meaning-filled place of acceptance and deep learning.

Answering difficult questions:

Thinking about how you might answer difficult questions before they are even asked helps prepare you for great conversation.  The following helps in thinking about how you might answer questions that make you sweat and stumble over your words:

  • listen carefully to what is being asked. Don’t jump to thinking about your answer, first think about the question, the age of the person asking, and what they are really asking
  • honour the question and the person asking it
  • ask questions of clarification
  • ask, ‘what do you think (feel, have experienced etc.)?
  • you might ask the class what they think,or what their experience of God ays to them
  • take time to think about your answer – it’s not a race to the finish line
  • give age appropriate answers
  • know that it is okay to say, ‘I don’t know; perhaps we could do some research together, we could ask the minister, or look into that in next week’s class etc.
  • don’t give and answer you’ll have to undo down the road
  • give answers that are consistent with what you believe about a loving and caring God
  • let parents know if a child’s questions need further conversation at home. Ask for permission to do this
  • recognize the balance between confidentiality, safety and disclosure



Do you have more questions?


Feel free to ask me!

Tori Smit

Regional Minister for Faith Formation

Synod of Central, Northeastern Ontario and Bermuda



Children in the Pews

Something positive about kids to put in the pew racks

The following is a text for a permission giving way of welcoming young children into worship, put their parents at ease and remind the adults of the church about their role as faith-sharers in the ministry of children.  Please feel free to copy this resource and place it in your pew racks or print in the bulletin from time to time, especially when you might expect some new families to join you in worship.

To the parents of young children…

Relax! God put the wiggle in children; don’t feel you have to suppress it in God’s house.  All are welcome in this place!

Sit towards the front where it is easier for your little ones to see and hear what’s going on.  Children get tired of seeing the backs of others’ heads.  Please feel free to quietly explain the parts of the service to you children.

Sing the hymns and respond to the prayers and scripture readings.  Children learn how to worship by copying us.  And, please let us know if they act out at home what they see in the church.

If you have to leave worship, feel free to do so, but please come back.  As Jesus said, “Let the children come to me.”

Remember the way we welcome children in church directly affects the way they respond to the Church, to God, and to one another.  We truly want them to know this house of worship as home.

And please allow your child to use the other side of this card to draw and doodle.  We can always make more cards!

To members and visitors…

(insert the name of your church) loves children, and we appreciate the gift they are to us, and the reminder that our church family continues to grow.

Please welcome all children in our midst and give a smile of encouragement to their parents.  This is one of the ways we continue to care and model God’s love for our children and their families, and affirm our “We will!” of faithful support for each child and his/her parents in the covenant of baptism.

(on the reverse side of the pew insert print:)

Draw a picture of what you see happening in church right now.


Church Behavioral Covenant Example 2

Behavioral Covenant Example 2


We recognize that we are a diverse group of believers holding differing viewpoints. We are, however, united in our belief that God wants us to love God, one another, and ourselves:

To that end, we hereby covenant both individually and as a Sunday School Teachers, Youth Group Leaders, Elders, Christian Education Committee members to embrace the following peacemaking behaviours both in our church life and in our everyday life: .


  • Make positive statements and say what we want to do
  • Be focused towards our goals
  • Recognize that all voices are equal, because god is personal but never private
  • Keep our communications and interactions sacred, and as a body, keep Christ as the center
  • Listen to what Jesus is telling us to do
  • Not accept intimidation as a behavior in any form
  • Exercise patience, gracefully
  • Express impatience and agree to stay together in community for the good of the body of Christ
  • Be open to suggestion from all people
  • Encourage open, honest, graceful, and face-to-face discussion, where all ideas are valued and respected
  • Encourage aIl voices, particularly the quiet among the body
  • Provide a safe, non-judgmental and sacred space
  • Embrace and appreciate silence
  • Forgive and be forgiven
  • Recognize the humanity and error in all of us
  • Lead by example.


We hereby covenant to follow these behaviors and hold each other accountable for them.

As members of the Christian community at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Brampton we, being sinners and falling short, agree, with the help of God, to relate to each other through Christ, and thus hold ourselves and each other to:

  1. Listen to each other. “Let everyone be quick to hear and slow to speak …” James 1:19. Dietrich Bonhoeffer has stated: “The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists of listening to them.” Life Together p. 97
  2. Respect the privacy of those who confide. “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.” Proverbs 11:13
  3. Challenge each other with the truth. Be willing to confront when it is important.

“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love.” Ephesians 4:15-16

  1. Deal with people directly; don’t complain to others. “If one of my followers sins against you, go and point out what was wrong. But do it in private, just between the two of you.” Matthew 18:15. If someone complains to you about another member, help that person follow this principle.
  2. Strengthen each other. “[Speak] only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29) Likewise, the test of true fellowship is to “make the individual free, strong and mature,” not “weak and dependent.” Bonhoeffer, p.88
  3. Be gentle with one another. “My friends, you are spiritual. So if someone is trapped in sin, you should gently lead that person back to the right path. But watch out, and don’t be tempted yourself.” Galatians: 6:1
  4. Do not speak ill of others in the fellowship. “Do not grumble about each other or you will be judged, and the judge is right outside the door.” James 5:9
  5. Do not judge each other. “Some of you accuse others of doing wrong. But there is no excuse for what you do. When you judge others, you condemn yourselves, because you are guilty of doing the very same things.” Romans 2:1
  6. Pray for one another. James 5:16
  7. Confess one’s wrongs to another. James 5:9
  8. Forgive one another. “Give and it will be given to you.” Luke 6:38
  9. Freely participate in the body of Christ according to our gifts and talents. “Freely you have received, freely give.” Matthew 10:8



Church Behavioral Covenant Example

Church Behavioral Covenant Example


We recognize that we are a diverse group of believers holding differing viewpoints. We are, however, united in our belief that God wants us to love God, one another, and ourselves: To that end, we hereby covenant both individually and as a Session, Board of Deacons, and Congregation to embrace the following peacemaking behaviors both in our church life and in our everyday life:


  • Make Positive Statements and Say What We Want to Do
  • Be Focused Towards Our Goals
  • Recognize That All Voices Are Equal, Because God Is Personal but Never Private.
  • Keep Our Communications and Interactions Sacred, and as a Body, Keep Christ as the Center.
  • Listen to What Jesus Is Telling Us to Do.
  • Not Accept Intimidation as a Behavior in Any Form.
  • Exercise Patience, Gracefully Express Impatience and Agree to Stay Together in Community for the Good of the Body of Christ.
  • Be Open to Suggestion from All People.
  • Encourage Open, Honest, Graceful, and Face to Face Discussion, Where All Ideas Are Valued and Respected.
  • Encourage All Voices, Particularly the Quiet among the Body.
  • Provide a Safe, Non-judgmental and Sacred Space
  • Embrace and Appreciate Silence.
  • Forgive and Be Forgiven.
  • Recognize the Humanity and Error in All of Us.
  • Lead by Example.


We Hereby Covenant to Follow These Behaviors and Hold Each Other Accountable for Them.

[Created on 06/30/2007]