This belongs in your church’s DNA

Epicentro ColonWhat do you want your church visitors to think when they experience your church?

  • You’re crazy.
  • God is in your midst.

Last night, I taught in a church that is planting two more churches here in 2013.

This is a young congregation, under 4 years old, already raising money and training leaders for future church plants.

I asked them the same question as they set the DNA for their future churches.


So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and inquirers or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind?

But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all,as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”

1 Corinthians 14:23-25

A few notes:

What follows is not the text of my challenge to them, but the basic summary.

It’s not a theological treatise on tongues and prophesy either.  Rather, it’s a reminder that we should be sensitive to the visitor that God brings to the church.

Paul expresses a concern for the church visitor that attends one of the gathering of Corinth.

If a visitor comes in and all are doing their own thing, speaking in tongues, wouldn’t they think you are just a little weird?  Would it freak them out enough to never come back?

But if a visitor comes in and hears the word of God proclaimed in a clear manner in an orderly way, they might declare that “God is in your midst.”

Which response would you rather have from a visitor in your midst?

Paul has a concern for the visitor and it should be our concern.

  • Our practices need to be sensitive to the visitor God brings
  • Does this practice help the visitor in their journey to Christ or drives them away?

Different Greetings to Welcome Church Visitors

Things to say to church visitorsI asked some peers in some of my networking groups:

Is there something more Church greeters can say than “Good morning?”

What are some of your suggestions? Please comment on site and join the discussion.

This was a response to a prior article:

What do you say greeting church visitors?

Some Greeting Options

Here are some responses from my the groups:

Steve: I like to get high fives from all the kids…it wakes them up a little and gets the parents smiling. Also, I’m starting to have custom t-shirts made to spark conversations. “Where are you serving”. “Ask me how to become a member”, etc. Anything that might strike up a conversation when they stop to read the shirt. Of course, the best thing I have found is really getting to know people and greeting them by name. Recognizing when they haven’t been attending regularly, when their spouse might not be there, that someone was sick the previous Sunday. Just a few ideas that seem to work well for me.

Gregory: Many times we don’t see things from the visitors perspective so we say the wrong thing, or we do not say anything at all. The article reminds us of the need to be intentional in our training for real ministry in the church. The fact that a visitor forms an impression of the church in the first minutes that he is on the campus is indicative of the help Chris has been to all of us.

Rick: We have a very small parish (approximately 30 active members) and it’s obvious when someone new comes to visit. Often, the pastor will actively introduce them but usually by then, at least half the congregation has already talked to them.

Lani: Here’s what we say at Abundant Life Ministries in Waikoloa, Hawaii: “Aloha-Welcome, great to have you with us today!” Hi I”m ________________, what’s your name? Where you from? How did you hear about us?

Victor: Welcome. Thank you for coming. Enjoy the service. How can I help or direct you? God bless you. And yes, good morning works well. Above all, be welcoming and genuinely loving.

Steve: Before worship service I would walk through the sanctuary greeting everyone, shaking hands, making conversation. With visitors, I would recognize that they were new or an usher would let me know. I would talk with you and connect with someone nearby who offer to help them navigate the service and accompany them to coffee afterwards. Several parishioners were designated and trained to greet/meet visitors.

Clive: I would tell new visitors my name & ask them theirs,tell them about our Church & ask them about themselves. No set words but it is good to be friendly & take a genuine interest in all folks at Church including new visitors, not to just be a clique with the friends you know. As Steve says some new visitors won’t want to say much but still be friendly & make sure they know they are very welcome & where they do show interest make sure they are aware of other Church Groups,Events & Activities which they would be very welcome to attend.

Steve: Last Sunday, I was manning my post, out front greeting folks as they came in, and some 1st time visitors came up. I knew they were 1st timers since they parked in the designated visitors parking spaces (convenient for me!) and I didn’t recognize them. As they walked up, I greeted them and introduced myself and asked what brought them to our church that morning. I then gave them a quick rundown of who we are and the basic layout of the place (we meet in a school auditorium), then invited them to our New Connections dinner we have once a month-ish that we use to connect new people to the Elders and staff. But…I have found some visitors don’t want to talk. They are coming as an obligation to someone else or something, so I just try and read their body language and know that there are some that will not respond to me but will prayerfully, respond to the Holy Spirit while in service. Just a few thoughts. I take Sunday morning greeting very seriously! :)

Your turn:

Share with us in the comments below your answer to this question:

What more can church greeters can say than “Good morning?”

More Greeter Training Resources


10 Things Every First Time Church Greeter Should Know

Church Greeters HandshakeSo you want to be a church greeter, but too embarrassed to say you are not sure what you are doing?

Don’t want to say something that would put you on this list of crazy things church greeters say?

If you are a first time church greeter, here are ten things you need to know about the work of the greeter in the church.

1.  Honor your members and guests.

Each church member and guest who arrives at your building is a human being.  Some prefer anonymity.  Others hope to see a friendly face in a strange place.

The things you do and say will show either honor or disrespect.

Think of ways to honor your guests in your greeting.

2.  Don’t get stuck saying “hello.”

There are plenty of ways to greet a person than simply give a “hello.”

You can say all sorts of things:

  • Welcome to our church.
  • We are glad you are here.
  • Can we help you with showing you where to take your kids.

3.  Greet people after the service.

Make a point to spend time greeting people after the service.

If you are in a smaller church under 250 people, you might easily know who is a first time visitor.

In larger churches, make yourself available at the visitor center, or look for people who seem a little out of place or looking for signage, or appearing a little uncomfortable.

Don’t simply give up your role after the service gets started.

4.  Offer to pray with visitors if appropriate.

If you are making small talk with a visitor after the service is over, listen for a need that could be prayed for.

Don’t go fishing for something just to create a prayer opportunity, but listen.

Offer to pray with your guest before leaving if appropriate.

Then pray something short and simple before your leave their presence.  Allow this to be a potential aspect of care, and an opportunity for God to work.

5.  Help visitors know where to go.

If you are able to recognize a church visitor when they are arriving at the church, offer to help them find the sanctuary.

If they have not been to your building before, they may need some guidance.

Some church facilities are laid out easily enough to find the sanctuary.

I once attended a church in a movie theater inside a mall, on the third floor, above the food court.  Once at the theatre, I had to figure out which “screen” the church held its meeting.

6.  Smile

It shouldn’t need to be said, but it does.  Give a genuine welcome with a genuine smile.

I’ve entered too many churches where the greeters were just too “ho-hum” to really display any care.

A smile goes along way towards a warm welcome.

7.  Provide the Handouts or Bulletins

If your church provides handouts or bulletins, your job is to share those with a smile (see #6).   Make eye contact with people.

This is not the time or place to talk about Sunday’s game, or the college game, or anything else.

Rather, notice people.

8.  Pray

As a church greeter, you are part of the welcome experience of your church.

A good greeting process will help prepare the way for whatever work the Lord wants to do in that visitors life.

Pray for the visitors that God will bring to your church.

Pray for your work, that you might be a blessing, rather than a hindrance, to each visitor and member who comes.

9.  Extra Care for the Elderly

I’ve gotten great joy in greeting those members and guests of our church who are far older than I am.

Often times, if they are long term members, they have spent a lot of time investing, serving, or giving in your church.

Always express honor to them.

If assistance in the form of a wheelchair is needed, you should know where to get one.  If they need hearing devices, you should know where those things are.

10.  Extra Care for Children

Don’t simply greet the adults.  Greet the children as well.

They might be more nervous than their parents who are attending a new place.

They might be a little fearful about all the new people they might have to meet.

Some may be more outgoing than others.

But, they are your guests.  Honor the children with a personal greeting, eye contact, and handshake.

Your Turn

Answer this question in the comment field below:

What do you think every first time church greeter should know, but is afraid to ask?

What is the work of the greeters in the church?

Do you lead your greeter ministry?

I’ve written a book for leaders of church greeter ministry.  Click on these links to read more (at Amazon).

You can get the 2 DVD Combo Set of Greeter Training DVDs from the store

or as a digital download

Also, see this tutorial on fixing your greeter ministry.


Your Turn: How to Identify Church Visitors in a Large Church

Recently, a reader submitted a question via Ask Evangelismcoach.

What are some ideas for identifying visitors?

We are a 2500 member church and many of us don’t know the difference between a visitor and someone who is a member who we just have never met?

I have heard of using name tags, colored coffee cups(ugh!), asking visitors to stand during worship…

I spend time talking with people I do not know/recognize but they end up being members, not visitors. Any suggestions?

How To Spot a Church visitor

My thoughts

I have visited a few churches of this size as the first time visitor.

In a crowd this size, anonymity feels safe, in contrast to a group of 100 people where we would feel obvious as a visitor.

In the last place I visited, the greeters and ushers made sure it was easy for us to get to our seat.  Making small talk while 2500 people are entering/exiting is not really ideal.

The only way for us to be easily identified as visitors would be to volunteer that information.

The church gave us plenty of opportunities to do so:

  • Fill out a visitor card and put it in the offering.
  • Visit the welcome center after the service for a free book.
  • Take our child to children’s church and fill out the registration form.

We chose to fill it out and turn it in at the welcome center.  The center was well staffed, including the preaching pastor, and everyone was engaged in a conversation with a visitor.  We didn’t linger to wait for a conversation.

On our second visit, we allowed our child to visit children’s church.  We arrived late so we were the only ones at the registration table.   They have a security system in place with wrist bands to match up the right child with the right adult after church.

There we met the children’s director, who make small talk with us while we were filling out their form.

Other responses from Linked In and Facebook discussions:

Look around for those you don’t recognize, Ask them if it’s their first time there and try to remember from then on. – By Mark Willis

Our congregation is way smaller than these two large attended churches. We have appointed members at the doors who will recognize visitors and greet them with a small folder of information, a visitors card to fill out so we can send them a card, a business card with phone numbers and a printed BIC Clic Pen with also a phone number for a Daily Bible Message.

Since I am an Specialty Advertising Dealer, I order the pens. Also, as members, we recognize visitors and many make an effort to greet them even after they are seated. They have the information and pen to take with them and will remember to visit us when back in our area. This might help you to get some ideas as larger congregations will need several greeters. Tom Hay

Be sure to greet people as they are arriving and leaving! Most of us do not do a good job greeting folks on the way out. We often get more questions from visitors at that time. – Clayton

Let me ask others:

If you are in a church over 1000 attenders each weekend,

What are some ways you identify visitors to your church?

Answer in the comment field below.


Duties of Church Hospitality Committee or Team

A common question I receive is

What are some duties of the church hospitality team or committee?

I’ve put together a list of potential hospitality duties for your committee.

Your team might want to consider these as focus areas as you work on your church hospitality program.

Areas of focus or duties that  a church hospitaliity team or welcome committee might cover

Your team members are the face of the Body of Christ to those God sends your way.

Your task is to help your guests feel the love of God by truly welcoming them into God’s house through friendly and authentically gracious service.

Not all churches will cover all areas of their church hospitality program with their team, but this list of functions of a church hospitality team might give you a framework to think on

General Duties of Church Hospitality Team

  • Oversee the working of all hospitality program and visitor care ministries.
  • Coordinate the activities that involve hospitality and care ministries.
  • Be alert to the needs of the church membership and ways to serve those needs.
  • Develop a mission and vision statement for your team, if that will help guide your ministry.

Area: The Welcome Experience for Church Visitors

Area: Help returning church visitors find ways to connect

  • Take care of repeat visitors
  • Develop processes for using the contact information
  • Implement system for contact after the first visit
  • Track visitors who make multiple visits
  • Audit your visitor to regular attender process to find out ways to make it better.
  • Care for new members
  • Work with pastoral leadership to develop a follow up gathering (e.g., meet the pastor).
  • Find ways to help your visitors to make new friends.

Area: Welcome Functions at Special Church Event

  • All areas of ministry requiring use of the church kitchen (Setup, serve, clean up)
  • Catering and Reception for installation of new pastors or great farewell of departing pastors
  • Prepare refreshments for church socials
  • Keep track of all supplies necessary for such events
  • Develop and maintain a written log of food quantities per number of people to develop a reasonable awareness of how much food is needed for functions
  • Train volunteers in the proper use of kitchen machinery (think food sanitation, cleanliness, health department issues etc).
  • Provide hospitality arrangements for visiting pastors, missionaries, and special invited guests

Area: Member Care

Some hospitality committees may include other areas of member care:

  • Arrange for meals for church families when needed (birth of baby, baby shower, death of loved one, health crisis).
  • Light house cleaning for shut-in members or elderly members who need assistance.
  • Transportation assistance for members who can’t drive themselves to appointments.
  • Gifts for Pastor / Staff appreciation days or Christmas.

I’ve seen several more church hospitality duty checklists that go far beyond this kind of general overview. They are specific to each individual church and the level of detail that each church wants. They get into item detail such as

  • Who orders the paper products and other supplies.
  • How to work with custodial staff in partnership with the Hospitality Team.
  • Who reports to who to keep people informed.
  • Processes for reimbursement and check writing duties.
  • Who’s in charge of cleaning up, locking up and other sorts of checklists.
  • How to schedule use of certain rooms and coordinate volunteers for those rooms.

What areas might you add?

Let me ask you this.

In the comment field below, answer this question:

What additional areas or duties might you suggest for the hospitality team?

I’ve gathered a bunch of articles for the hospitality committee here if you want further reading.


Does Your Hospitality Team need a little help?

Does Your Hospitality Team Need HelpDoes your hospitality program seem stuck on ideas?

Are you the newly appointed volunteer of the committee or to address your church’s hospitality ministry?

Do you know where you want to start improving your church hospitality, or do you feel there just too much information out there to know how to begin?

I offer church hospitality coaching for your hospitality director.  It follows a six week structure to help you get your committee and hospitality program going forward.

Read more about the Get Started Program for Church Hospitality Leaders  here.