Summary: Part of an ongong series that offers ways for people to be involved in hands-on ministry with this message focusing on the ministry of usher and greeter.

April 24, 2005

Pastor: Richard Pfeil

Serving God through the Ministry of Hospitality

Ephesians 2:12-14, Matthew 25:34-35, Mark 9:37

If you are a visitor, I’m Pastor Richard, and this morning we are focusing on, as we have the last three weeks, on ministry that can make a difference in our world. I want to give you just three questions you can ponder, that maybe you would like to respond to [feel free to, out loud. I know in church you don’t do that. This morning I give you permission.] Here are the three questions:

1) Who is the most important person in this room right now? Who is the most important person besides God? Let’s rule him out because everyone would say it’s God, of course. Because He’s here, where two or three are gathered; He’s here. Apart from God who is the most important person in this room? You can look around, is there a politician here? Someone else? Does anyone want to take a stab at it? [responses] That’s good that’s a good response. Does anyone else want to take a stab at it?

2) The next question: What is the most significant ministry in the church? By significant, and it may surprise you, I mean the most effective in reaching people and bringing them into a relationship with God and into his church. What is the most important, significant ministry of the church? Witnessing? That’s an excellent one. What is another possibility? Hospitality? You’re looking ahead now. What do people look for in a church, the number one thing? Friendship? That one came out quickly, friendship yes, in a word love, warmth. It’s interesting, that is the very thing Jesus said would draw people to him. John 13:35. [Maureen stole my thunder here, she already called the verse. I do want to contend something with you Maureen. She talks about gifts, the things God has given you and when it came to the “p’s,” pastor wasn’t even on the list at all. Really I was offended and hurt by that. (laughter)]

“By this will people know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” By far it does not matter how good a preacher preaches on Sunday morning. It does not matter how inspiring the worship is. It does not matter how abundant the programming is that a church offers. It does not matter how well-kept the church is. If people do not experience a warm and friendly environment, if they don’t feel wanted and appreciated, they will not be back. People look for love, love is the most powerful thing.

3) How does a person experience warmth on any given Sunday? How does a person experience welcome? Any ideas? They should really experience it through us all, but in particular, the people on the front lines. We are going to focus this morning on the importance of the ministry of Ushering and Greeting. It’s a wonderful ministry in that it is something we can all do. It doesn’t require a lot of special gifts and talents. We all have the ability to say ‘Hi’, greet and shake hands, and get to know people. All that it takes is warmth, a sense of excitement, a smile and some sensitivity. It’s a wonderful ministry in that it is time friendly - you already come to church, it doesn’t take any more of your time; it doesn’t take a lot of training. In fact, if you just think through what helps you experience a sense of welcome and warm friendship in a church when you go visit, that’s all you need. All you have to do is think through that question and you can solve things for yourself.

We are going to give you some ideas this morning on things that we can do. You know it’s great for people who are bubbly. If you are a people person, this is your ministry. It’s a wonderful ministry for people who are new to the church because it enables you to meet a lot of people and get to know them. Also, you have the wonderful excuse to say, Are you a visitor this morning? and if they say I have been coming to this church for 47 years, you can say I just joined the church and I am new.

If there is any one text, to focus on this morning, it would be Mark 9:37. Someone asked Jesus who is the greatest, and he really answers question number one - who is the most important person in the church! Jesus said, (this is His answer, not my answer), Jesus said this: “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me.” Now what is he talking about, “little children”? Well, in the immediate context, he is referring to children, but in the larger context, as you look at Mark 9:42, he talks about little ones as being those who are new to the faith, or those who are seeking, who are looking for an answer. They’re not quite sure where it is, but they come to the church to discover whether or not the answer is found there. It’s someone whose faith is just beginning. We call them seekers.

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