Most churches are thrilled to see visitors attend services. Often we can reach these people with the gospel; other times we can minister to them as they grow spiritually. Sometimes they are committed believers who may later join us in reaching our community for Christ. Guests matter! That’s why we want to do all we can to welcome them effectively.
Consider these basic suggestions toward more effective ministry in this area . . .
- Keep the buildings and grounds clean and attractive. When facilities are not well maintained or are unkempt, visitors are turned off. Take the time to upgrade the landscaping, pick up trash, paint as needed, etc.
- Think through parking issues. An adequate number of spaces, sufficient lighting for nighttime events, general cleanliness, and updated markings are all important considerations.
- Provide good signage. Attractive signs along the road and in the parking lot that identify parking areas and building entrances remind visitors that they are anticipated and welcomed. Directional signs inside the church building accomplish the same purpose.
- Enlist and train greeters. Many churches have people prepared to greet individuals as they enter the church building. But are they trained to focus their ministry upon newcomers?
- Staff a welcome center. If you have not done so already, establish a place in the church lobby (set up a table or build a small counter) where people can get church ministry information and answers to their questions.
- Pay attention to nurseries and bathrooms. Studies show that guests take note of cleanliness and safety issues. Adequate provision in both areas is crucial!
- Make visitors feel welcome in services without embarrassing them. Most people don’t want to be singled out. They prefer not to be coerced into raising hands and filling out cards. Find other ways to learn basic information about newcomers and express tactful appreciation for their visit.
- Train deacons to make contact with guests. Rather than stationing deacons at doors to shake hands after services, consider allowing them to roam—looking for guests who may appreciate a greeting from a church leader.
- Consider a post-service visitors’ reception. Many churches have established such a ministry to more personally greet guests. Provide light refreshments, information about church ministries, and opportunities to interact with the pastor and other church leaders.
- Strengthen your strategy for guest follow-up. Most churches send letters to guests’ homes after a Sunday visit. Others utilize e-mail, make phone contacts or home visits, or extend hospitality. Of special importance are those guests whom you perceive to be unbelievers. Proactively plan for follow-up in such cases with the goal of sharing the gospel.