7 Dos and Don’ts for Welcoming Church Guests
It’s easy to forget what it’s like to be a newcomer surrounded by regular church congregants. The experience can be daunting, so providing an enjoyable, relaxing first experience is essential. Welcoming church guests isn’t rocket science, but it does require some thought and planning.
If you’ve been involved in your church for a while, you may not be able to remember what it was like to enter the building for the very first time. Did anything feel overpowering or intimidating? Did you receive a kind greeting? Were people there to answer your questions? These are all issues that are crucial to a newcomer’s first impressions of a church.
Welcoming church guests is the first stage in the process of building a congregation. If guests are impressed from the moment they enter the building, they’re more likely to become regular congregants — contributing to the financial and spiritual success of your church.
To help you turn guests into long-term congregants, we’ve compiled a few dos and don’ts of welcoming church guests.
1. Do Have Knowledgeable Greeters and Clear Signage
Put yourself in the shoes of a guest arriving at your church for the first time. They’re probably already nervous, and they may not want to draw attention to themselves. Don’t leave your guests to find their way around your church themselves. Take the initiative by placing greeters at the entrance.
Choose greeters who are naturally suited to welcoming church guests. They should be loquacious, affable, and approachable. Your greeters also need to be knowledgeable about your church, its layout, and any common questions. If a guest’s initial interaction is with a friendly, knowledgeable congregant who wants to help, their first impression is likely to be positive.
It’s also important to use signage that directs newcomers to the main areas of your church. Make sure all your signs are concise and clear. And use a font and color scheme that makes the instructions obvious.
2. Don’t Automatically Sign Up Guests for Newsletters
Too many people opt for the hard-sell tactic when welcoming church guests for the first time. A lot of people will think this is pushy and rude — particularly when they haven’t had a chance to see what the church has to offer.
A guest’s first experience in your church should not include signing up for newsletters or being asked for a donation. Give them the opportunity to soak up the spirituality and ambiance of the occasion.
Be sure to say goodbye to guests as they leave. This kind of farewell interaction is the perfect opportunity to strike up a conversation. Who knows? The issue of signing up or giving might arise naturally.
3. Do Have an Up-to-Date Website
A lot of people will check nearby churches online before deciding which one to visit. You can give guests all the basic information they need online. They’ll expect to find information on sermons, opening times, fundraising activities, and social events. In this respect, it’s important to approach website design in a business-like manner. Your website should be current, easy to navigate, and filled with well-written content.
Your website plays a pivotal role in welcoming church guests. It should include practical information, such as a map of your church, details on where to park, dress codes, and details of giving opportunities. If you offer Bible study classes or educational programs, include them on your website, too.
4. Don’t Make Guests Stand Out
Most guests don’t want to stand out when they visit a church for the first time. In fact, many will want to slip under the radar because they’re self-conscious and nervous. If guests want to be in the spotlight, let them thrive. But give guests the option of simply experiencing God’s love in solitude.
When you’re welcoming church guests at busy times of the week, give them the option of sitting near the back of the congregation. For a lot of people, walking through a packed church as a stranger can be intimidating. And if a guest’s first experience is negative, they’re unlikely to return.
To help your guests familiarize themselves with your church, offer one-on-one meetings with the pastor. Some churches hold monthly orientation classes, where newcomers can come together to share that first experience with like-minded people.
5. Do Encourage Church Members to Be Friendly
While it’s important not to overwhelm nervous guests, a few friendly faces can make a great first impression. Some newcomers will be nervous; others will want to sit in solitude to reflect. And some guests will want to strike up conversations at every opportunity. If your greeters and congregants are friendly and approachable, you can let the guest decide how they experience your church for the first time.
Hold regular meetings with greeters, ushers, and key congregants. Convey the importance of being friendly, patient, and welcoming. And communicate the importance of reading the situation. When does a person want to be left alone? When might a guest be thankful for a conversation or some casual introductions?
6. Don’t Be Pushy or Overpowering
It’s important to remember that the person chooses the church; the church should never choose the person. A guest wants to decide whether a church meets their specific needs. They want to be sure they’re somewhere that’s conducive to worship and reflective of their spiritual needs. They won’t be able to do any of this if congregants and church leaders are asking lots of questions.
That first experience in your church should be as relaxed as possible. When you’re welcoming church guests, give them space to be in the moment. This won’t be possible, however, if you’re asking first-time guests to sign up for Bible classes or donate to church funds.
7. Listen to Concerns with an Open Mind
The most welcoming church environments are derived from a culture of honesty and trust. If someone has concerns about your church, listen to them with an open heart. By actively listening to criticisms and constructive feedback, you’re demonstrating your church’s ethos. And who knows? You might discover ways to improve the churchgoing experience for all your congregants.
Welcoming Church Guests with User-Friendly Giving Options
At DonorWerx, we work with pastors and church leaders to ensure church guests feel welcome and comfortable in unfamiliar surroundings. First impressions count, which is why we have developed effective, user-friendly solutions that make giving a quick, hassle-free experience. Schedule a Discovery Call with our giving experts today, and we’ll help you turn first-time guests into long-term congregants.