in october of 2005, michelle and i spent a week in california to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. it was one of the greatest weeks of my life! we spent three days touring san francisco, then rented a convertible for four more days in wine country. the weather was perfect and the vineyard valleys were spectacular!
on the 5th evening of our 7-night trip, we were in glen ellen, a tiny village in the sonoma valley. we had eaten out every night, and while the food was excellent, we decided on this evening to grab some food from the hot bar/salad bar at a little grocery store within walking distance of the inn where we were staying.
while perusing the rather generous fare on the bar, michelle noticed one lone woman doing the same. she appeared to be in her late 60’s perhaps, and clearly a local. so we asked her what she thought of the food, did she get her dinner here often.
“oh yes,” she said, “two or three nights a week.” she volunteered at the library in santa rosa, about 30 minutes from her home. we were sold, and piled our boxes high.
then michelle asked, “so, what is there to do around here?”
(you can see this coming a mile away, can’t you?)
“well,” said our new friend, “do you like wine?” (i almost laughed out loud, at both the question and the answer!)
“of course,” we replied. “what wineries do you recommend we see?”
“well, i would recommend kunde, “she said.
(that was cool, because i had just had a glass of kunde cabernet a few days earlier, for the first time, and loved it!)
“and when you get there,” our friend said, “have them call for me. i’ll give you a personal tour.” and as she said this, she handed us her card. her business card.
whoa! how cool was this!
the next day, jane gave us a private personal tour, including places that normal tour guests don’t get to see, like the barrel aging cave where hollywood celebrities have had their wedding receptions. not to mention free wine glasses – nice ones – with the winery logo etched into them. and some really nice discounts on a few bottles of their best stuff. it was the highlight event of a highlight vacation. i loved being treated so special.
i sometimes wonder… do people who visit threshold feel as special as i did? do we all understand how we, like jane, have that capacity? it seems almost too simple, but with just a little thought and attention, we can make a visit to threshold quite a special experience. in fact, some experts say that people decide whether or not to return to a church a second time with in the first ten minutes – often based on how they are welcomed.
so here’s the deal. as you know, i am considering october 5 a second grand opening for threshold. we have reached out into a number of villages in our community to let them know we are expecting them. we have designed a fun, yet relevant series for the upcoming month. we are stoked about growing the kingdom of God in this place. are we ready?
being ready means treating every guest as special. it means going out of our way to speak to them, show them around, answer their questions. any of us can – and hopefully will – do this. but in addition, we are looking for a cadre of hosts. people whose very lifeblood oozes with the desire to see people lovingly welcomed to our very special place. we are hoping for 8 or more volunteers for each of the four sundays each month. their role, while not any more or less important than any other sunday morning role, is vital.
so… two things:
1. if you love to meet people, welcome people, and make people feel special and at home, you should do this! if people have commented in the past on your amazing gift of hospitality, you should do this! if you love to fix up your home and invite people over, you should do this!
2. don’t huddle. even if hospitality isn’t your gift, you can shut down hospitality if you huddle only with the same few people each week. i know that part of what you love about threshold is seeing your close friends on sunday. that’s cool. just keep in mind that newcomers are watching you to see if you are watching out for them.
kunde wine is one of my favorites. it’s not the best wine on the market, nor the cheapest. it’s good, yes, but i buy it primarily because the representative of that wine made me feel special.
this sunday, someone will come to threshold for the very first time.
whether or not they come back may depend on you.
and remember, you represent Christ.
will you make them feel special?