Leader with a Limp

By Ryan Sanders

Hello and welcome to the story of Nandi and of IBC’s Hospitality Ministry. We are so glad you are here. Please, grab a cup of coffee (or tea), settle into a comfy chair and catch the vision of IBC’s new ministry leader.


Nandi Pryce’s journey of faith began with a limp. In 2004, Nandi was a standout on the UCLA women’s soccer team, and a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team. She was on track to compete in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. She was making good grades and building a bright future.

And then she broke her leg.

Her athletic dreams hobbled, Nandi found herself struggling with disappointment and asking deep questions. A fellow student invested in Nandi at a time when her stock was plummeting, and showed her a love that wasn’t contingent on performance. Since then, Nandi has worked at three parachurch ministries including the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. In 2015, she moved to Texas to attend Dallas Theological Seminary. And in January 2016, IBC hired her to lead its Hospitality Ministry. 

Chatter sat down with Nandi to hear about her heart for welcoming people — and watching for limps.

THE INTERVIEW


CHATTER What are IBC’s hospitality ministries?

NANDI PRYCE We do things like park cars, hold doors, and greet visitors. But what the Hospitality Ministry really does is proclaim the gospel to the thousands of people who come in our doors each Sunday. 

CHAT Really? Like preaching?

NP Preaching without words. When people come to IBC, they are going to hear the gospel preached beautifully from the stage. But hearing the messages is only part of their experience. I want them to experience the message embodied in our people. The gospel removes barriers. It creates unity out of diversity. Paul said it creates “one new humanity.” Since the earliest days of the church, our welcome of strangers and outsiders has been one of the most fundamental ways we demonstrate the truth of the gospel. I like to say hospitality confirms the gospel.

CHAT We think of hospitality as place settings and HGTV tips. That doesn’t exactly confirm the gospel, does it?

NP True Christian hospitality goes beyond place settings and outward appearance (though that is part of it). It is about our hearts being willing to welcome people in the same way God welcomed us to his table. This is the core truth of the theology of hospitality.

CHAT The "theology of hospitality?" Sounds deep.

NP Well, it is and it isn’t. It doesn’t take a seminary professor to hold doors and smile at people. But when we do those things, something much deeper is happening. 

CHAT You say that the gospel produces unity in diversity. That’s all well and good for Jews and Gentiles in the first century, but what does it look like at IBC?

NP God has given IBC the unique opportunity to touch a culturally diverse group of people. It’s one of the things I am most excited about in being on staff here! Our city is a kaleidoscope of races, cultures, languages and backgrounds. When the church overcomes barriers that divide people in the world, it demonstrates the power of the gospel. This church has always been a place that has cared deeply for all that come through the doors. So what I am getting to do is just continuing to carry on that vision. 

CHAT Sounds like an exciting ministry! How do people get involved?

NP If anyone would like to volunteer, they can just stop by the Information Desk on Sunday and say so. But you don’t have to “officially” be on the hospitality team to pitch in. In fact, visitors expect to be greeted by the “official” greeters. What’s even more loving — what gets people’s attention — is a church body that is so welcoming that every member acts like a host. For that reason, every IBC attendee is already involved in our hospitality ministry, whether they know it or not! 

CHAT But if someone does want to join the “official” team, what can they expect? Lots of training? Hazing? Secret handshakes?

NP I played collegiate athletics. Of course there is hazing! 

Just kidding. The level of training and time commitment varies with responsibility. Our whole team prays every Sunday at 8:40 a.m. Anyone can walk up to our prayer circle and be welcoming at a door that very morning. Ushers and parking lot team take a little more training. 

My heart for all the Sunday teams is that every volunteer knows they have a vital role in removing barriers and hindrances to worship, confirming the gospel by communicating value to each person, and celebrating each person just for making the choice to worship with us. We want each person that drives onto our campus to be seen, valued, welcomed, and loved no matter what.

CHAT Changing gears: tell us about your broken leg. 

NP I really don’t like to talk about soccer much, but I do like to watch for people on Sunday who are limping. I don’t mean literally, but emotionally — spiritually. You can see it on their faces. People come through our doors every Sunday who are nervous or tired or even afraid. They’ve been fighting all week with their boss or their spouse or the kids or their budget. And then they get up Sunday morning and fight with the alarm clock and the fear of a big new place like IBC, and they walk through our doors and I just want to give them a big hug and say, “You made it! I’m so glad you’re here! This is a safe place for you.” 

CHAT Ok, we hear you, but just one more soccer question: how do you like the U.S. team’s chances in Rio?

NP I am a bit biased, I will say. But, I have no doubt that they will win the gold! One of my closest friends Carli Lloyd is the team captain and Jill Ellis coached me on the National Team and in college at UCLA — we are still good friends to this day. With Carli and Jill leading the team, they will be prepared, well trained and ready for the rigors of an Olympic games. I will be watching every game and cheering them on via text… and yelling at the TV of course! GO USA!!!

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