10 welcome-to-church ideas to help your visitors feel at home

January 28, 2021

Do you remember your first day at a new school or workplace? You probably felt somewhat lost and alone—visiting a new place for the first time can be intimidating! This can also be true for visitors to your church.

How you welcome visitors to church will have a major impact on whether or not they will visit again. While church leaders may think theirs is the friendliest church around, that is not always the case from an outsider’s perspective.

In order to help your guests feel at home right away, here are ten church welcome ideas you can start using today!

       

Welcome to church teams for greeting your visitors

1. Create a welcome team

Your welcome team is responsible for making the first personal connection with your visitors. They also play an important role in helping returning guests feel welcomed back to church.

Every welcome team will look different depending on the church size, facility layout, and other factors. There are several roles to consider adding to your welcome team, including: 

Door greeters—Have team members stationed at each public entrance of your facility, with more greeters at the doors to the main sanctuary. They should be trained how to greet visitors, direct them to various destinations throughout the building, and answer basic questions about the church. Using simple phrases like, “Welcome to church, we’re glad you’re here” are easy ways to break the ice. 

Ministry room teams—If your church provides child care, Sunday school, youth, or other ministries during your main service, train your team members to watch out for new visitors. They should be able to welcome guests, confirm that they are in the right place, and answer any questions. For example, parents may feel anxious leaving their children with strangers. Reviewing the schedule and activities planned, letting the parents take a look at the room beforehand, and answering any questions will help them feel more at ease. 

Parking lot attendants—Your visitors’ church experience begins before they even enter your building. For churches with parking lots, consider reserving a special parking area for first-time guests with welcome-to-church signs to let them know where to park. If you have a larger parking lot, form a parking ministry to direct people to the best spots. 

Online greeters—Make sure you also have a team ready to greet your church’s live stream viewers with welcome messages. They should also be ready to respond to questions, prayer requests, and any other comments made during your online service. It’s a great way to connect with your online community in real time!

       

Create a welcome booth for church visitors
                                                               

2. Provide a welcome booth

When people visit a new public place, they’re accustomed to looking for a centrally-located information kiosk or welcome booth. Churches looking to give their guests a great experience should likewise consider offering a welcome booth or hospitality area.

Your welcome area should be easily found, well-staffed, identified with clear signage, and have helpful resources available, including:

  • Connection cards to help you connect with your guests after they leave and invite them to check out more of what your church has to offer
  • Welcome packets with information about your mission, ministries, and meeting times
  • A laptop and a mobile device available to demonstrate your church’s website and encourage visitors to download your custom mobile app
  • Consider offering a gift, such as a gift card, book, coupon for a drink from the church’s cafe, pen, or coffee mug. Gifts demonstrate that you value your guests, in addition to serving as reminders to visit you again!

       

Use your church website to welcome visitors
                                                                 

3. Optimize your website to welcome visitors

Many people visit your church’s website before ever visiting you in person. Your website creates an important first impression that should help people understand what your church is, why it exists, when and where it meets, and what visitors can expect. 

Here are some basic things to be sure to include on your website to welcome first-time visitors to your church:

"Welcome to church" website "Must Haves"

  • Church address    
  • Contact phone number & email  
  • Service times   
  •  List of ministries with signup forms  
  • "What to expect on your visit" page    
  • Church events calendar         
  • Connection card forms    
  • Church live stream           
  • Sermon videos and other media content    
  • Link to download your custom mobile app 

Having a website that looks and feels like your church is another step in better connecting with your guests. You can easily build a beautiful and well-thought-out website with SnapPages™.

Just choose a church website template, then drag-and-drop your church’s logo, photos, and images for that custom-designed look. Because it comes with built-in-media, live streaming, events, and digital giving integrations, you will save your team time so they can focus on ministry.

       

Welcome to church connection cards
                                                                 

4. Connection cards

Connection cards are forms for collecting information like names, phone numbers, and emails from people visiting church for the first time so you can follow up with them. These printed and digital forms are also known as visitor cards, guest cards, connect cards, or welcome cards—and they are an essential tool for church growth! 

Digital visitor cards should be easily found on your website and mobile app. Printed visitor cards should be located on the back of church pews or seats, handed out with your weekly church bulletin, and available at your welcome booth.

       

Welcome to church signs help your visitors know where to go
                   

5. Prominent signage

If a visitor wanders your church hallways, how will they know where to find the restrooms or children’s ministry? A good church welcome strategy includes having signs available throughout your building. 

These signs should be large enough to be easily seen from a distance. Your main entry sign should point to the general direction of your main rooms, such as restrooms, children’s ministries, and sanctuary. Also make sure each individual room has a sign as well. Some popular options to choose from include:

  • Wall signs
  • Hanging signs
  • Fold-up signs like sandwich boards or A-frames
  • Retractable banners

       

Pulpit greetings to welcome to church your visitors
                                                           

6. Pulpit greetings

Church welcome speeches play an important part in your visitors first church experience. Here are some tips for avoiding awkward or poorly worded greetings from the pulpit:

  • Recognize first-time and returning visitors who are attending both in-person and online. 
  • Have your media team create special welcome-to-church backgrounds, images, and videos to display on your slides.
  • Briefly introduce yourself and your church’s mission and core values.
  • Encourage your visitors to learn more about your church family, and explain where they can find more information. Pro tip: This is a good time to mention your events calendar on your church website and mobile app.
  • Invite them to fill out a connection card.
  • Prepare special greetings for holidays like Easter, Mother’s Day, Veterans Day, etc., to welcome people visiting to celebrate that day at your church.
  • Use these greetings for special occasions and events. For example, baby dedications or graduation greetings are important because many visitors will come to your church just for these events. 

       

Welcome your church visitors with personal greetings
                                                             

7. “Greet your neighbor”

A common practice that is useful for connecting with visitors is having a short pause during the service for the congregation to welcome one another. Some congregations may refer to this as “passing of the peace.”

Some people may initially feel uncomfortable introducing themselves to strangers, but here are some practical tips you can share with your congregation to help everyone feel more at home:

  • Regular attendees should greet visitors before greeting their friends
  • Introduce yourself by name
  • Create empathy by asking your church members to imagine how they would like to be welcomed if they were visiting a new church

Ultimately your leadership provides the example of how to greet church visitors that everyone else will follow, so be sure that your leaders are setting a good example!

       

Give your church visitors clear instructions on what to expect next
                                                 

8. Give clear instructions

Your regular attendees know what to expect during your weekly meetings. A first-time visitor, on the other hand, has no idea where their children should go, when to stand or sit, if they can bring their coffee into your main auditorium, or when to have communion. 

This is why the team responsible for leading the service should always give clear instructions. For example, let visitors know they have the option to abstain from member-focused activities, such as bringing tithes and offerings, or partaking in the communion elements.

       

Coffee and snacks make your church visitors feel welcome
                                                               

9. Coffee & snacks

Another way to help guests feel welcome is by offering drinks and snacks. Some churches offer a full café experience, while others provide a simple self-serve coffee table. Whichever you choose to welcome your church visitors, here are some best practices to consider:

  • Assign a person or team to ensure the area is stocked and clean.
  • Make sure the coffee is fresh and tastes good. (Hint: If nobody is drinking the coffee, it probably doesn’t taste that good!)
  • Offer decaf options, creamers, sugar, and sugar alternatives.
  • Include other beverage options, such as water, tea, and juice.
  • Offer good quality snacks, and be considerate of food allergies.
  • If possible, set up seating and tables. This creates an atmosphere that encourages relationship-building.

       

Churchy words can sound like a foreign language to your church guests
                                                           

10. Avoid overusing “churchy” lingo

Churches are fortunate to have a rich vocabulary that is unique to our faith. Words like atonement, communion, and the Trinity hold profound meaning for Christians. The same is true for titles that we bestow upon our leaders and fellow congregants, such as deacon, brother, sister, or reverend, and the unique words for our church buildings, like temple, sanctuary, and baptismal

However, for unchurched visitors, hearing these words for the first-time can feel like hearing a foreign language. When communicating with your visitors, intentionally use words that they will easily understand. A simple example would be directing a visitor to your church sanctuary by referring to it as the auditorium. Language like this can help people better understand and relate to your church.

Next steps

Regardless of the size of your congregation, knowing how to welcome visitors at church will help them come back as returning guests. As they build relationships, visitors can eventually become members of your church’s community. This is all part of your church’s  purpose to fulfill the Great Commission!

Subsplash offers powerful engagement tools to make your visitors feel welcome and connect with your church. The Ultimate Engagement Platform™ is a single solution for church websites, mobile apps, live streaming, church media hosting and delivery, and online giving.

To discover how to use these tools to engage your visitors and church community, let’s chat

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