I visit a lot of churches as we develop partners to plant a new church in Paris. I am blessed to have the opportunity see so many ideas and talk to so many people. This will have a profound impact on us as we use others' experiences in our own church plant. It is the Newboxes concept.
While I was at River Valley Church in Minneapolis (Apple Valley), MN last week, one of the guys I met while walking around asking questions was Anthony Richards. He came from Hillsong Church in Australia and is the pastor of Hospitality, Alpha groups and Capital Projects. They could not have picked a guy better qualified for the hospitality (greeting/first touch) ministry (notice the RVC lanyard in the pic, its speaks louder than the tag at the bottom). I have never seen a church better at this than Hillsong in London and Paris. And, I'm sure their Aussie Mum church taught them all they know. They have lots of people outside and inside with matching shirts or jackets (cool ones/ 21st Century/ not obnoxious). You were never far from a smile, a greeting (you must have both of these), a person you could ask directions from, a person who would talk to you and someone who would find those who didn't look like they knew what was going on and make them feel at home. I know this all sounds logical and simple but I have been to many great, large churches and have seen no one pull it off like Hillsong. You could feel the excitement before you walked in and as you met a few of these folks while waiting, you would walk away feeling like you just made a new friend. In Paris these guys would give out their cell#'s so people could call them to get directions to fellowship groups or connect groups.
I don't know how they train these people but they hit it out of the park every time I am there.
Rob Ketterling and River Valley Church are blessed to have a guy like Anthony who has experienced this kind of hospitality and create a culture of it in their church.