Visiting a church can be an intimidating experience for a newcomer. Jeff Bogue, senior pastor of Grace Church, Akron, Ohio, shares keys to communicating a friendly environment. This article first appeared at cenational.org and is used with permission.
Leave the badges at home
Use greeters without name badges. Greeters with badges look like employees instead of friendly people. Only safety team members and children’s workers should have badges.
Have upbeat music playing
Silence is scary, and music fills in silence. Music also identifies whether you fit in this place. Think of heavy metal music playing in a candle store. It feels wrong. Play upbeat, even secular music, before and after services.
Offer coffee and refreshments for free
You would never ask a guest in your home to reimburse you for coffee. We should expect guests and treat them with the hospitality due them.
- Give them the best parking.
- Give them the best seats.
- Act like they are there!
Post clear directional signs for key areas of your building
- Especially children’s ministry
Welcome “guests” not visitors
Guests are expected and appreciated. Visitors are only stopping by. “If you are our guest this weekend…” is a statement which can single people out.
Create a gift pack
When a guest comes for the first time, deliver a gift. Our church gives a mug with the church logo and website on it. This is a personal touch. It’s one that does not expect an invitation to come into the house and visit. It is just a gift. If they want to talk, great; if not, at least they tend to feel seen and heard by the church.
Use connection cards
We put these in the program every week and collect them through the offering baskets. These cards include:
- Contact info
- Prayer requests
- Commitments to Christ
Form a first impression team
Go for the win. Task this team to become more than greeters. This is a team of people who are always thinking about how to make someone’s entrance into the church easier.
For additional tips on how to be a more welcoming church, see Pastorpedia, Vol. 1, Issue 3 at cenational.org/wp-content/uploads/PastorpediaVol1Issue3ReceivingNewPeopleInTheChurch.pdf