The Main Course to a Successful Ladies Hospitality Ministry
By Judy Harlone
Recent major surgery had taken its toll on Lillie Watkins’* energy supply. She knew her strength would slowly renew, but not quickly enough to cook for her family. Then an unexpected phone call came. A friendly voice greeted her with the best news she could ho pe for: “Expect dinner delivery every day for the next week.”
The following afternoon Lillie graciously welcomed a knock at her door. A warm meal and comforting words from a total stranger was just what the “doctor” had ordered. The scene repeated itself each afternoon. Her “doctor” was none other than a compassionate ladies hospitality Ministry Group coordinator. Church staff had notified her of Lillie’s needs. The organized ministry raced into action.
The greatest miracle in Lillie’s recovery occurred afterwards when new friendships formed between the volunteers and Lillie.
“This ministry gave me a chance to heal and rest. I don’t know how our family would’ve managed it if weren’t for the compassion they showed,” Lillie says. “Now I see their friendly faces in church and I feel like I belong more than ever-that I’m deeply cared for.”
A sparkle glimmers in Lillie’s eyes when she remembers the food brought to her home. “I can’t help but look at each person and think, she brought me tacos, or they gave me the yummy lentil soup,” Lillie adds.
Is God calling you to lead a hospitality Ministry Group? If so, there’s much more to the menu than the meals. Setting up deliveries is a necessity. Sharing Christ’s love in your own creative ways will deepen and strengthen your objectives further.
A great way to begin is by approaching your pastor or Women’s Ministries coordinator. The following steps may spark ideas as you begin this ministry:
Pray for those whom you’ll be serving-from congregational members, to friends and neighbors who have no church to call home-yet. What better way to serve in Jesus’ name?
Pray for those who will be your volunteers. They are the backbone of a successful ministry. Trust God to give them the needed confidence while they serve others in His name.
A resourcefully designed volunteer handbook is an excellent way to jumpstart your Ministry Group. Although creating a handbook involves the most work, it establishes a sense of clear-cut direction and purpose. Decide upon a ministry name, which creates interest and sparks enthusiasm.
Suggestions in your handbook will help everyone-from the novice to the experienced cook. Opt to serve entrees in disposable dishes, which is easier for your recipient. Choices such as inexpensive plastic ware, foils pans and freezer bags lessen the chance of stray dishes lining your church’s foyer tables and kitchen counters.
Ask that your volunteers include the recipe name and reheating instructions along with their name, address and phone number. This invites the recipient to contact the cook if needed.
Do your volunteers enjoy cooking? Or would they rather pick up from a local deli? Either way the recipient will know they’re cared for. Do the volunteers know what’s expected of them? Should they provide a complete meal or simply a main entree that can be frozen and reheated? Have you given specific food allergies or dietary restriction information to the volunteers? Do they know what the requested meal delivery time is?
Our hurry-scurry world doesn’t always make it easy to volunteer, let alone cook. By praising volunteers on a regular basis, you validate their humble service and strengthen bonds of Christian fellowship.
Good leaders delegate responsibilities and prevent burnout. If God has called you to this behind-the-scenes-with-little-recognition ministry, rejoice! Your job is to simply organize, delegate, trust and encourage.
Avoid cooking for each recipient and you’ll avoid burnout. Trust in God to avoid worrying whether you’ll have enough volunteers, no matter the size of your group. Then stand back and watch Him work.
Answering the call to serve others as hospitality Ministry Group coordinator is no small step. It involves prayer, preparation, planning, praise and prevention of burnout. But it is also service in the purest form, while trusting in God’s provisions.
Just ask Lillie Watkins-the newest member of her church’s “Loving Hearts and Hands” hospitality team.
These tips will guarantee “creme de la creme” hospitality Ministry Group:
Encourage volunteers with simple thank-you notes or small tokens of appreciation-such as a personalized bookmark or a candle with an attached note: “You light up our community. Thanks for caring.”
Encourage meal ideas in your handbook. Be creative suggest family favorites. Taco fixin’s, store-bought chili with a zip bag of grated cheese and crackers, crock-pot soup, pasta and Italian garlic bread, specials from the local pizzeria, and chef salads are just a few simple possibilities.
Encourage volunteers through a small newsletter. Highlight the number of families you’ve recently helped, prayer needs and answers, recipes and a testimony from a volunteer. Even a one-page newsletter printed twice a year can boost spirits.
Fall into the trap of gossip. Stick to basics when giving recipient information. Simple statements such as, “She’s recovering from surgery,” or “He recently lost a loved one” are enough. This speaks highly of your integrity. Assume you can’t recruit fulltime working families. Let them make the decision to help.
Volunteer to make meal deliveries. If a volunteer can’t make deliveries, ask her to find someone who can. You’ll be surprised how quickly others can find help.
Be afraid to receive help if you need it.
From: www.churchcentral.com web site. October 2009
This article may not be not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat meat. Throw away the bones.”