According to a Barna Research survey of people looking for a church, “Friendliness to Visitors” is
- Extremely important: 71%
- Somewhat important: 21%
Based on a national telephone survey of 1,015 people 18 or older; sampling error of plus/minus 3 percent. Citation: Moody (Jan/ Feb 2002);
For 9 out of 10 visitors, the friendliness of your congregation is important. [Click to Tweet that Stat]
What each church needs to do is develop a strategy to grow in their church hospitality – to be friendly, but not overly friendly or smothering.
- How can I help my church welcome church visitors?
- What role can I play?
Here are 5 of 10 common practices to consider — (the next five come tomorrow).
1. Recruit a greeting ministry team
This team would be responsible for recruiting greeters to serve and provide ongoing training to new greeters.
Some churches are large enough and have multiple points of entry into the building, and this requires a little more administrative planning to manage.
One could make the point that all members are responsible for greeting.
While that is true, what often happens is that a greeting may never get done. It’s easy to slip into the mentality that we are a friendly church and therefore visitors will be welcomed.
But there exist too many stories of “No One Said Hello.”
Some churches provide regular training sessions for new greeters.
Extroverts may find this ministry easy to do, but introverts may need a little help or guidance in how to break the ice welcome visitors.
One could also read
- Serving as a Church Greeter, Leslie Parrott. (Review).
- The Work of the Greeter, Paige Lanier Chargois
- Church Greeters 101 in Paperback
- Church Greeters 101 for Kindle
- You can get the 2 DVD Greeter Training Greeter Training DVDs, or download them in one transaction
3. Hospitality or Welcome Center
Some churches have a large enough lobby to have a table or booth that is staffed by greeters.
This is a central information area about the church and its ministries.
It can also be a place where visitors can leave their contact information for future conversations.
Many churches will give away a small gift for those who visit the table. Coffee mugs, pens, free books, etc. Here is where one could place Church Welcome Folder.
One church, Glen Burnie Baptist features the church welcome center on a webpage for visitors, along with a map of the facility.
4. Church Welcome Folder or Packet
We have been in churches that distribute a church welcome folder or church visitor packet. For more information see: Ideas for Church Visitor Welcome Packets.
During our visits in different churches, these visitor packets have come to us in a variety of ways:
- We have found them ourselves.
- The members that have invited us will see we get one.
- Told to get one from the Welcome Center on the way out.
- Greeters that have recognized us as visitors give them to us.
- We have raised our hands when asked and ushers gave one to us.
Some churches will have a coupon to turn in at the welcome center for a free book or some such token of appreciation.
Usually inside the visitor packet, we will find
- a letter from the pastor,
- an audio recording of a pastor’s greeting or a recent popular sermon, and
- informational brochures on various ministries and programs of the church.
Note: We recently received a cassette tape and then discovered that we don’t have a cassette player any more – not in the car, not in our house. We haven’t used a cassette is several years and forgot that we didn’t own a player. All our stereo systems have gone to CD or MP3.
Consider a offering a choice: cassette, CD, DVD, or a link to a free MP3 download on the church’s website.
For more information see: Ideas for Church Visitor Welcome Packets
5. “Go and Greet someone” or “Pass the Peace”
When I am the leader of the service (emcee, moderator, director, liturgist, worship leader, pick the term for your tradition), here is what I do:
At an appropriate moment I say
Get up, turn and greet someone that you’ve not met yet. Shake their hand, introduce yourself, and take a few moments to welcome them to God’s house.
I don’t say the same thing every time, but they usually contain four commands.
- Get Up.
- Go Meet.
- Give Your Name.
I particularly mention “someone you have not met.”
I want to encourage people to make new connections that could lead to significant relationships, and I want the congregation to learn to look for people they don’t know.
Check out this video on this awkward time during the service.