First of all, I have to say I’m a little disappointed to not have have incited any golfers to yet post a comment on this blog! I thought for sure when I challenged the guys in green jackets I’d get some pushback!

No matter—thinking about the “best of the best” in sports has me thinking about our volunteers at Access Church, who rank up there with my mom as the “best of the best” in hospitality.

As soon as we leave our driveway to head for my mom’s house, my kids begin talking about the feast sure to be laid before them. They begin to drool as they anticipate her steak, 7-layer salad, key lime pie, and finally, her lemon pound-cake. We always leave with stomachs full of good food, but the experience includes so much more. There are photos of the kids on the walls, activities they might enjoy, and a carefully stacked pile of mail and newspaper clippings for Stephanie and I to read. It’s a good feeling to know that someone is really glad to have you.

Perhaps you’ve had a similar experience, where you’ve been in someone’s home and it’s clear that they have been planning for your arrival. It makes you feel special, allows you to rest, and it’s a place to which you’re always ready to return.

Some restaurants have mastered this as well. They understand that people keep coming back not just for the food, but for an entire experience that includes the decorations, lighting, music, textures, and seating.

At Access, I’m amazed by a team of volunteers that seem to intuitively understand the importance of environment. They are truly the best of the best, and who make our environments so compelling. Would you believe what they do each time we have a Sunday service?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zng7PNXVnc]There’s Tim, who’s the first to arrive each Sunday about five hours prior to the service with two 10,000lb. trailers in tow, and his crew who unload the trailers and set up all of our Versipanels. Around the same time, the adult environment team is setting up for our worship service. Lights, sound, and video gear all has to be unloaded, carried in, and set up. Thousands of feet of cabling run. Sound checked. Problems solved.

Then Brenda, Terea, Kristin, and the UpStreet production team arrives to rehearse for UpStreet. There’s the Waumba team, led by Susan and Gail, who show up a little later to transform a jazz ensemble room into a wonderful environment for babies & preschoolers. Then another team arrives to set up the hallways and the UpStreet environment. Signs, banners, backdrops, rugs, lamps, toys, sound system, projector, chairs… even a five-foot giraffe!

By the time we break for a hearty dinner, some 40-50 people have already logged several hours preparing our environments. After dinner, the finishing touches are put on, exterior signs placed, clothes are changed, and we’re ready to hold babies, lead worship, and tell Bible stories. When the service concludes, it’s time to tear it all down and pack it away!

The whole process takes about ten hours. Not everyone is there the whole time, of course, but nevertheless, it’s quite an endeavor.

These volunteers are amazing. They come from all facets of life. Accountants, teachers, business owners, CEOs, doctors, homeschooling moms, bankers, and university students. More than a few have built businesses from the ground up. And yet, on Sunday afternoon, they’re putting in so much time & energy to create these amazing environments. Not only that, but between Sundays they are constantly brainstorming about how we can do it better next time!

Why would they make such a costly investment of time & energy? For you! These volunteers are intent upon creating the kind of environment that allows you to come and ask questions about God and faith and life and purpose… and to come back next week and ask more questions. They want to make sure that you know your children are being cared for so you can relax and enjoy being at Access, and they want each sign and hallway decoration to remind you that we knew you were coming, and wanted to make every preparation so that you felt right at home here.

Maybe you’ve even been invited by one of these people. Guess what they have done? They have leveraged their time and their money, and invested it in their relationship with you. They have found something really cool at Access, and they’ve decided to share it with you.

Isn’t it a good feeling to know that someone is really glad to have you?