On a human level, first time church visitors will come to your church because they have
- Been invited by a friend.
- Seen your building in their commuting patterns.
- Been referred by a friend in their social grape-vine (network).
- Heard about your church through your marketing (direct mail, website, door hangers, business cards, radio, TV, phone book)
- Experienced your community outreach (e.g. food pantry, medical outreach, Dog Park, Hot Dog’s for Jesus, Free coffee on Mondays, Christmas Store)
These reasons for visiting your church focus on the how that visitor found their way to your church.
These are not the motives
These reasons don’t suggest “Why did that visitor come?”
That gets into motives, spiritual needs, situation and life.
There are many different reasons why a person would choose to come to your church for the first time.
This is beyond the scope of this series on Christian hospitality to first time Church visitors.
Welcome Visitors to Church
Searcy writes in the introduction to his book Fusion (see my review of Fusion Visitor Assimilation), that
“Next Sunday the Spirit of God will prompt hundreds of thousands of people in the United States, and millions around the world to visit a church for the first time.”
In fact, he suggests that each visitor are “God’s gift to you. . . . ”
While the book covers his entire system of Visitor Assimilation, chapter 3 gives a good writeup on Four Factors that he considers important
- Greeted: Welcome with a smile
- Directed: simply and politely shown where they need to go.
- Treated: Shown respect and perhaps surprised with food/drink.
- Seated: Led to comfortable, appropriate seats.
I can’t begin to tell you how important a greeting can be.
You can read the difference between two experiences of two different congregations that shared the same building:
- First Time Church Visitor Experience (No Greeting)
- 1st Time Church Visitor Story (Greeted)
- No One Said Hello
I’ve complied a set of links on Evangelismcoach.org that point to Greeting visitors.
- Welcoming Visitors to Your Church – Miracles disguised as needs.
- 6 hints for welcoming visitors to your church.
- 10 Tips for Greeters (One of the Most Popular Articles Here)
- How Not to Welcome A Visitor (Secret Dress Code)
- Welcome a Spanish speaking Visitor
Different ways to greet visitors:
www.ChurchMarketingSucks.com conducted a poll among its readers. See the Special Guests Poll Results (on Welcoming Visitors) and various ways their readers greet visitors during the service.
First Presbyterian in Branson MO greets visitors publicly during the service. Read More tips for welcoming a visitor which is their story. It works for them because of the pastor’s skill in greeting people before the service and he makes the greeting time fun.
One reader submitted a question via Ask EvangelismCoach about greeting visitors in the public service with flowers. (Read Should we single out First Time Visitors?). The discussion in the comments grows.
Here is a simple but not exhaustive list of ideas:
- A simple handshake and a small greeting.
- Friendly ushers trained to notice and talk with visitors.
- Everyone stand and greet/meet while upbeat music is playing.
- “Secret” Greeters who are trained to notice and talk with visitors
Let me ask you this?
What is the way your church greets and give welcome to church visitors?
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