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How to Welcome New Church Visitors on Sunday

church visitors

There are numerous reasons why people may choose to visit your church. This could include seeking new friendships due to loneliness, succumbing to invitations from acquaintances, rediscovering their faith, or searching for a religious home in a new city. While visitors are important, it’s essential for the growth of your ministry that they return. This means you need to welcome church visitors with open arms.

If you want your ministry to grow, it’s crucial to make first-time visitors feel welcome and at ease during their visit. Remember, this initial encounter may be your sole opportunity to make a positive first impression. Visiting a new church requires courage, especially if the person lacks friends who are already members and has made arrangements to sit with them. Here are six tips to demonstrate a genuine sense of welcome to every visitor in your church.

1. Welcome Church Visitors With a Designated Parking Area

Having a designated visitor’s parking area is a practical and thoughtful decision for several reasons. Typically located near the sanctuary entrance, it ensures that visitors do not have to walk long distances to reach the building, which is especially beneficial for the elderly or those with young children.

Providing covered parking near the door, in case of rain, adds an extra touch of convenience. If an awning is not feasible, having church members equipped with golf-size umbrellas is a charming alternative, offering unexpected assistance to those caught off guard by the weather.

Another considerate gesture is to station members near the parking area to warmly greet the visitors and offer directions to the worship center or specific Sunday school classes if needed. If a first-time guest were to drive around the parking lot multiple times in search of a spot, they might become frustrated and possibly leave. Ensuring a designated parking area eliminates this concern, helping visitors avoid arriving late to an unfamiliar place.

2. Have Greeters Ready to Welcome Newcomers

Anxiety peaks as first-time visitors prepare to enter the building, worrying about being ignored, stared at, or perceived as dressed inappropriately. They are uncertain whether the church will be welcoming or if members will remain distant with only slight smiles. To alleviate these concerns, station friendly and outgoing church members at each entrance. Instruct them to greet visitors with a smile, a warm “Good morning,” or another appropriate greeting.

Encourage handshakes with adults upon entry and friendly gestures like ‘high fives’ for children or gentle pats on the back. Remind them to make eye contact and be attentive to anyone who appears lost or confused. Offer assistance by asking if they have questions or need directions. If possible, have a few members available to not only provide guidance but also accompany visitors to the appropriate Sunday school class. Along the way, encourage friendly and unobtrusive conversation to prevent any awkwardness or discomfort.

3. Provide an Opening Greeting

The pastor or a church leader should always extend a warm welcome to first-time guests from the pulpit. In just two or three sentences, emphasize the friendliness of the members and express delight in having visitors. Mention any special events or unique aspects of the service, such as a middle-school choir performance, Communion, or a post-service potluck that guests are invited to attend. This prepares them for what to expect and helps them feel more at ease.

During this time, encourage visitors to complete the guest cards found in the church bulletin. Provide a designated basket or box for guests to drop off these cards as they exit the worship center. These cards allow them to request more information about the church or upcoming events, share their prayer needs, and ask any questions or express concerns they may have. It’s also important to provide a space for them to provide their email address, contact number, and address.

4. Utilize a Meet and Greet Time

Scheduling a designated meet and greet time during each service is a thoughtful idea. Encourage members to move around and engage in handshakes or greetings with both friends and visitors.

While some may find this awkward, a single member approaching a visitor with a genuine smile, polite eye contact, a handshake, and a warm introduction like “Good morning, I’m Paul. We’re glad to have you!” can significantly impact the visitor’s willingness to return.

Sending occasional emails to the members, urging them to greet not only those seated nearby but also visitors a few aisles away, shows that the church values welcoming newcomers. The knowledge that someone made the effort to do so can truly make a first-time guest feel embraced.

5. Introduction to the Pastor

Ensuring that guests — and their spouses, if applicable — have the chance to meet the pastor is crucial. In larger churches where a receiving line is impractical, it’s recommended to designate a specific area after the service where guests can meet the pastor and receive a small gift or gift bag. The gift can range from a spiritual-themed bookmark to a coffee mug. Additionally, provide brochures on a nearby table that detail the church’s activities, Sunday school classes, Bible studies, and upcoming events.

6. Follow Up With New Church Visitors

Now that you have the guests’ contact information from the filled-out cards, you and your parishioners can reach out to them. Start by expressing gratitude for their attendance at the worship service, which can be done through a postcard or a follow-up phone call.

If they showed interest in specific Bible studies, classes, or upcoming events, consider having a couple of church members visit their home to provide more information, or have a member of the class personally call and extend an invitation to attend a meeting.

By reaching out to the visitors in a friendly, genuine, and engaging manner, you contribute to the growth of your church and ensure that it serves the community in beneficial ways. Prioritize creating a welcoming atmosphere for all who enter your ministry doors.

If you’re seeking advice on how to cultivate generosity in new or existing members, including their tithing practices, Schedule a Free Discovery Call with a DonorWerx professional today.

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