When someone becomes invested in the church and commits to being a member, that process likely began long before, starting with their initial impression as a first-time visitor. Many factors contribute to a person’s first impression, including the church website, visitor parking, and the general atmosphere. So how do you make sure you are creating a welcoming church that will encourage visitors and help them become part of the church family?
Here are 12 church welcome ideas you can implement right away.
1. Build an Inviting and Informative Church Website
A warm and thought-provoking website is essential to your digital presence, and it is vital for your pastors and staff as they connect with the community and impact lives. An engaging website can help encourage people spiritually and help them get connected to your ministries. It can also help send a message to potential members that will inspire them and make them want to engage with your church.
2. Establish a Welcome Team for Prospective Church Members
A welcome team or committee helps people feel comfortable when they show up to your church. They may also help encourage current attendees and visitors to get involved. A church welcome team may consist of greeters, ushers who can direct people to their seats, parking attendants, and people stationed at a welcome booth to answer questions. You may also establish a specific team that seeks out new faces in the crowd to connect with them. It’s also important to remember to welcome those who join you online because people’s online church experience matters too.
3. Recruit Greeters Who Are Outgoing and Friendly
Church greeters are there to ensure that guests and regular attendees are greeted warmly and taken care of when they attend your church. They can significantly impact the growth of church membership by establishing and nurturing relationships while promoting the church’s mission and core values. Your greeters should be church members that are genuinely friendly and outgoing by nature. Many people also find it easier to greet visitors and attendees when they have something to hand out, such as a church bulletin.
4. Create a Centralized Welcome Booth
A church welcome booth provides a place for first-time visitors to learn about your church and connect with leaders and members of your congregation. Hospitality can go a long way when it comes to making a good first impression. Having people stationed at the booth who can answer questions and point people to your youth or children’s ministry can help people feel welcome.
5. Make Visitor Parking Close and Easily Accessible
Parking may seem like a trivial detail, but it can help build a warm and welcoming experience when visitors arrive at your church. Here are a few tips when it comes to parking:
- Use clear signage to lay out an obvious path from the street to the church parking lot.
- Make sure plenty of parking is available. You may even want to set aside specific parking spots for people visiting your church.
- Establish paths from the parking lot to the church buildings. Make it as easy as possible for people to understand where they are supposed to go, including the welcome booth, sanctuary, kids’ area, etc.
6. Distribute Connection Cards
Church connection cards are an excellent way for churches to follow up with visitors, regular attendees, and members. Many churches use these to help people get connected to a ministry, share prayer requests, or have people update their contact information.
7. Generate an Uplifting Atmosphere
An inspiring church atmosphere will not only draw potential new members to your church, but it can also motivate current members and encourage them to focus on God and fellowship with others. The atmosphere may include clean spaces and thoughtful decor, as well as an inviting church culture.
8. Prepare a Warm and Heartfelt Welcome Message
Welcome messages from church leaders can have a big influence on whether people move from being visitors to becoming members of the congregation. Here are a few recommendations that many church leaders have found to be beneficial:
- Acknowledge first-time and returning visitors.
- Have church leadership introduce themselves and the mission of the church.
- Invite your guests to fill out a connection card.
- Invite people to greet those around them.
- Don’t forget to acknowledge those attending online if you stream your services.
9. Offer a Fun and Inviting Kids’ Ministry
Many congregations offer Sunday School classes for kids and students. They may also offer daycare for infants and younger children. Including options for children helps establish that your church is welcoming to people of all ages.
10. Provide Coffee and Snacks
Coffee is a universal welcoming tool that can help first-time visitors feel welcome and comfortable when getting acquainted with your church. Here are some best practices to take into consideration:
- Make sure the coffee is freshly made.
- Fully stock cups, condiments, etc.
- Along with coffee, you may want to provide other beverages, such as water, tea, or juice.
- Offer healthy snacks.
- Be sensitive to those who may have food allergies.
11. Establish Rapport With Visitors After the Service
Using the time directly after a church service to mingle with guests is a great opportunity for people to experience the culture and atmosphere of your church. If you don’t already have a coffee hour, implementing it after your service is a great way to connect with people. Some churches also hand out free gifts for first-time guests, utilize connection cards for those who have not filled one out yet, and mention other ways to stay connected to the church, such as the website, streaming services, newsletters, etc.
12. Check in With Visitors in a Timely Manner
While people may leave the service after having a positive experience with your leadership, your message, and the church as a whole, those memories can sometimes fade a bit once Monday rolls around and the grind of everyday life kicks back into full swing. This is one of the many reasons why follow-up is crucial.
Following up with your visitors is an excellent opportunity to get your church back into their peripheral vision and to remind them why your place of worship is special. Reach out using whatever preferred form of communication the person has designated to let them know that you are there to answer questions, pray for them, or help them get connected.
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