After serving in full-time ministry at two churches and as an interim at a couple others, I had the opportunity to search for a church home with my family as we moved to a new job in a new city. Wow! What an eye-opener.
It’s been a struggle for us in so many ways. I’ve discovered how it feels to walk into a church and not know where anything is, what time anything starts, or what those clever titles of classes really mean. I’ve discovered how it feels to be lonely in the middle of a crowd. And while I know in my heart that no church ever intends for this to happen, it does. Weekly.
Let me share with you five things that your church needs to think about when someone walks in the door.
- Greeters to meet them! In fact, outside in the parking lot BEFORE they even walk in the door! And I’m talking greeters who are called to greet! Enthusiastic, people persons who’ve been taught the when and where about every class and service in your church!
- Do you have great signs? Can someone who is new find where they need to go? Take a walk around your church. When you hit a hallway where you have to make a decision which way to turn — that’s where you need a sign! (But really, great greeters trump signs!)
- Are they alone? If so, pair them up with a member or family that will help them feel welcomed throughout the morning, go to worship with them, attend a small group, and maybe even invite them to lunch!
- Is the church, and especially the kids ministry area clean and inviting? If not…make it so! First impressions make a difference. And they’re right – you only get once to make a first impression. Also, is your kids area safe? Be sure to have a system in place and let your guests know that safety is a priority.
- Do you have a plan for follow up that afternoon or at least in a couple of days? Make sure someone from each age group represented in the family follows up. Make your guests feel important.
It’s not a lot, but if you’ll start with just a few things, you’ll be well on your way to making someone feel welcomed and loved at your church. And they may even come back!
Does your church do a good job of welcoming guests? Share your thoughts!