Home > Articles > Five Ways to Welcome Guests
Five Ways to Welcome Guests
Making guests welcome at your church is serious business.

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Making guests welcome at your church is serious business. Church consultant Gary McIntosh knows the truth of that statement: after moving to Tulsa, Okla., and encountering a chilly reception in various congregations, his grandparents stopped going to church. They never regularly attended for the rest of their lives.

"We must get ready for company!" writes the Biola University professor in his book, Beyond the First Visit." "Company's coming to our church every Sunday, and what visitors perceive in our welcome will influence their feelings and response to church and the Lord for years to come."

Five ways he recommends hosting your guests:

  1. Arrive early to make sure everything is ready for their arrival.

  2. Greet them warmly at the entrance, escort them to their seats and help them understand what is taking place.

  3. Anticipate and answer as many questions as possible in advance so they don't have to ask.

  4. Do something extra to make their visit special.

  5. Walk them to the door and invite them back.

Don't just make this a simple checklist, McIntosh says. He advises putting these statements on paper, with room beneath each one, and then noting ways your church accomplishes these objectives.

When finished, take a different colored pen and write a second list of additional ways you can fulfill each goal. Consider reviewing the lists with appropriate groups in your church.

Proactive Outreach

For churches that want to move beyond their doors and advertise themselves or a special event that may attract newcomers, McIntosh offers a set of questions churches should answer as they produce a flyer, brochure or other mailing:

  1. What is the purpose of your church?

  2. What makes your church unique, compared to others in your ministry area?

  3. What are some benefits guests can expect to receive from attending?

  4. What are newer members saying about your church?

  5. What do you want the reader to know, think, feel, and do after reading your first-impression piece?

  6. What resources do you have for producing it (budget, time, helpers, equipment)?

  7. What primary audience do you hope to reach with your advertising (families, youth, the elderly, singles or a particular ethnic group)?

  8. Has your church started ministry in the Internet's cyberculture? If not, when will you start? If yes, how can you improve? Who can help?

From the Pulpit

Finally, pastors must remember they are the key to launching any initiative, procedure or evaluation. The pastor has the main voice of the congregation because of preaching on Sunday morning and other weekend services, McIntosh told Church Central.

"Whoever has the voice to cast the vision seems to have tremendous influence," he says. "I think we've all known for years if the pastor blesses something from the pulpit, it gets done. If the pastor chooses not to bless it, it doesn't get done."

"I don't think the pastor has to start every ministry. That's not good. But the pastor has to lead, in the sense of giving permission to people. The pastor can say to the congregation, 'If you've got an interest in a certain area and want to start a ministry, we'll be glad to help you.'"

Topics:Evangelism, Hospitality, Management, Newcomers, Visitors & guests
Filters:Greeter, Hospitality, Outreach, Pastor, Usher, Volunteer, Worship
References:3 John 1:8

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Displaying 1–5 of 8 comments


May 13, 2013  6:32pm

The modern church is screwed up but it is all we have, at least most of us. So we need to make it the best it can be for the sake of visitors. God is moving in their heart and all they know to do is to go to church. But the human nature is still dominate in the lives of most newbies. We have to consider the effect our impression gives.

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October 10, 2009  6:33pm

After a few months of using it, my attitude changed. ,


December 22, 2008  12:18am

Let us not forget, Leo, that while God prods the heart, it's God's people who nurture and disciple that flame. If the church is cold, unwelcoming, and disconnected, the seeker may be deterred from church. There are many, many people whom God has touched yet are disenchanted with "organized religion" and have opted for less frustrating spiritual alternatives.


October 16, 2008  10:07pm

What people forget is that first impressions count. God can touch peoples hearts anywhere, but when visiting a church especially for the first time, if they do not feel welcome or the love of God is not displayed, they may not wish to return. Feeling comfortable helps in the letting go and letting God process especially in a new enviornment.


October 06, 2008  8:05am

Good points. Yet the MAIN point is missing - that God does the work in the hearts, not the church show stuff. The example of parents quitting the church - is just their failure to see the treasure in God, not so much church's responsibility. Keep reminding people WHO is their treasure: Christ, not the flashy church.

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