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!
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!
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:
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:
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.
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.
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:
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:
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:
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!
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.
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:
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.
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!