My wife and I were newlyweds and had just moved to a new city. We were looking for a church to call home. We wanted a church where we could get connected. We had already visited a few churches, but we just didn’t have the “warm fuzzies” about any of them. We decided to give one more church a chance. That Sunday, the music was probably good. The sermon the pastor gave probably kept our attention. But what we remember the most is how they treated this pair of newcomers to their church. We were treated as their welcomed guests rather than their unwanted visitors.
Every Sunday, God sends guests to churches to be welcomed. It is unfortunate that so often we do not prepare to welcome and receive these God-sent gifts. Pastors and church members, the guests God will send your way this Sunday are gifts and they deserve to be treated as such.
Often churches feel that guests will be welcomed because they are friendly and welcoming to the people that they know. Often a church’s approach to welcome guests is summed up in a set time for greeting in the worship service. While nothing is wrong with these things, these things alone will most likely leave a guest feeling like an isolated outsider.
Here are three things every church can focus on in order to treat newcomers as welcomed guests:
Invest in adequate signage, keep your property looking maintained and inviting, and have friendly and informative greeters at the doors.
In the worship service genuinely greet your guests. Without calling our your guests by name, greet them from the stage. Also, in the worship service you will want to make it easy for your guests to give you their contact information. A guest might feel welcomed by a small gift of appreciation for visiting the church. This could include information about your church, as well as future connection opportunities.
You hope a first time guest becomes a second time guest. If your attitude of hope does not translate into action this may never happen. The time between the end of the worship service one Sunday and the start of the worship service the next Sunday is time that must be used to continue to connect with your guests. I would recommend making contact with your guests during the week in two ways: Send a personal note to each guest in the mail and call/email each guest.
Welcoming our guests this, and every, Sunday with the love of Christ we will be connecting people to Him. This is our greatest priority.
Written By: Nate Williams, Pastor of Discipleship and Connection, Heartland Church