We’ve all been there at one time—maybe numerous times over the years. For whatever reason, you’re looking for a (new) church. The visits each week to another new church can be uncomfortable and challenging.
You try to follow all the rituals unique to each church—from the greeting time to Communion … each church is a little different.
And what makes you come back the next week is sometimes difficult to describe. Many times, it’s not the theology or the sermon that gets you to come back. It’s the people and how you are treated.
As a church, it can sometimes be challenging to know what to do to welcome visitors, yet not make them feel like the center of attention.
With that challenge in mind, here are three quick tips on how to welcome visitors to your church. They might not apply to all churches, but they can give you some direction in how you approach the stranger at your door.
1. Don’t overwhelm.
Try to find a middle ground between not noticing their presence at all and making them feel as if they are your only visitors since Y2K. What’s that look like? It means just being natural. Introduce yourselves, tell them you are glad they are there, ask if they have any questions. That’s it.
Don’t give a history of your church, or tell them the sermon is usually better, or you’re hoping to someday remodel your antiquated facility. Just be yourself.
2. Provide simple ideas to connect further.
If a visitor likes your church and wants to become more involved, make sure you provide accessible and easy ways for them to connect. This can be as easy as a slide displayed during the worship service, a bulletin insert or a card in the foyer.
Make sure to include contact information, times and dates for group meetings and events, and any other pertinent details for a newcomer. Try to avoid words and phrases understood only by your congregation, such as, “We’ll meet by the door next to Steve’s office.”
3. Don’t hide who you are.
The sermon might be good, the worship music moving and the people nice and open. But there is more to a person’s decision to stick with a church. At the core, people want to know about your church. Maybe not on the first visit or second, but eventually they will want to know a bit about your history, denominational affiliation, mission/vision, etc.
Make sure you provide this information on your website, in a brochure, or in some format or location that is easy to access.
In addition, provide opportunities for visitors to connect with the pastor. Even if it’s just a short conversation, many visitors will want to talk with the pastor before making a final decision about making your church home.
These are just a few ideas to make your visitors feel welcomed and not overwhelmed. There are many more and each context will dictate different outcomes. But hopefully these will get you thinking and developing ways to ensure your visitors come back—Sunday after Sunday—and become part of what you’re doing to influence the world for Christ!
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