Dear Church Leader,
Let’s get ready for new people!
As we prepare for invited guests to attend the message series “We’ve Got Spirit” designed for all ages and coming in September, it’s important that we take some time now to prepare by becoming excellent hosts. I took Welcoming Ministry training in 2015 and found it to be very informative. You don’t have to take the entire training course to benefit, however. Below is a breakdown of the major components with a link to printable forms you can use to assess your church now and make the desired improvements before September 2, 2018. Soon, the promotional banners, decorations and more will arrive. I will set up the sanctuary the week leading up to September 2nd, with a small teaser item appearing the Sunday before.
It would be especially timely for leadership (Board and Trustees) to take a look at the Comfort Checklist and bring any specific needs that should be addressed by trustees to their attention. “We don’t see the cobwebs in our own corners, because we don’t look for them.” It’s true. But when we have a list in our hand we pay special attention to the things that a newcomer will spot right away. How many of us judge the restaurant we visit for dinner that first time by the cleanliness of the bathroom? Visitors start to decide whether or not they will come back when they hit the parking lot and continue to assess until after the sermon. The decision is made not by the sermon, but the sense of hospitality including the sermon. People come when they are invited. They come back when they feel welcome.
Take time, as you are able, to look through the materials below in the order they are of interest to you. You will be drawn to certain ones before others, and follow that leading.
When you worship this Sunday, use the back of the bulletin “What I want to remember” section to note ANYTHING you feel is “cringe worthy” to you and share them with me. I will complile the list for your church and offer them all anonymously to your leadership for consideration. Cringe worthy is anything about the time before, during or after the service that makes you feel awkward or as if some direction and fine tuning is needed. Be specific. “I don’t like the announcements” is not specific. “I don’t like how much time is spent on announcements. Just read the most important ones.” is specific. Weigh your feelings against the purpose of the function, as it may not be what you need from the service but may feed someone else. We aren’t attempting to make our church experience perfect for us, individually. We are trying to make it as comfortable and inviting as possible for a first time visitor who doesn’t know what we do or why we do it and wants to fit in and be a part of something bigger!
Thank you for all you do. Church leadership is hard. But we do it because we want to bring more people to know the love of Christ and their place in His Plan. Know that I pray for you; for vision, for endurance to run the race, and for patience as we wait on God’s timing.
With hands to the plow,
Creating a welcoming and hospitable climate in your church begins at the parking lot and continues into the heart of the congregation. The ministry of welcoming is the responsibility of the entire church family, not of a committee or a few volunteers. To create a lifestyle of welcoming in your congregation, remember these seven practical elements.
1. Display visible, clear and concise signs that a first-time visitor can easily understand and follow. Learn how to improve your welcome to visitors by completing the “Comfort Checklist.”
2. Station greeters at all building entrances, not just the sanctuary. Prepare greeters for their role by sharing “Guidelines for Greeters.”
3. Train ushers to be your worship “hosts” (not gatekeepers). Learn more about preparing ushers for their role by sharing “Guidelines for Ushers.”
4. The congregation is even more influential than the greeters and ushers in creating a welcoming climate. Prepare church members for their role by sharing the “Welcoming Tips” sheet.
5. Offer cues and aids during worship. Never assume people know what you know! Discover how to make worship more welcoming with a “WOW! Worship of Welcoming” training session.
6. Invite people to stay for social time and announce where to find the coffee! Learn more about ways to invite people by using the “Inviting Practice” sheet.
7. Remember to say “thank you for coming” and “we hope to see you again.” Discover more welcoming skills by reviewing the “Ideas That Show We Care” sheet.
Source: To learn more about developing a welcoming ministry in your congregation, visit umcom.org/learn/welcome-your-guests.