Where is the exit in case I need to make a run for it? Regardless of the thoughts that have gone through your head, we have all been new in church at some point. More than likely, we stayed at the church we are currently attending because someone made us feel welcome and at home in that church. Here are 7 things you can do to ensure that the next visitor to your church feels the exact same way:
Act like you are happy to be there. If you seem like you don’t want to be there, why should they want to be there? A friendly, smiling face is a must if you want to make someone feel welcome.
Make it a point to go to them and introduce yourself
Too often, people come to church, sit in their seat, participate in the service, and leave, having not met a single person. Why? Because no one bothered to go speak to them. For some reason we think that it is their responsibility to meet people or we assume someone else will talk to them so we remain in our comfort zone and they remain alone. They took a huge step in coming to a church in which they knew no one; the least we could do is let them know that we are glad they made that decision by going and talking to them.
Ask for their name
It is one thing to say, “Welcome” or “Good Morning”, but it is another thing entirely to say, “Welcome! What is your name? It is nice to meet you.” Right there you have already told them that they have an identity that you want to know more about.
Ask them questions
Where do you live? What do you do for a living? Have you gone to any other churches? How long have you been in church? Do you have family? Why did you decide to come here this morning? With questions, you can learn a great deal about someone. Without questions, you will be lucky to learn anything at all. Asking questions says, “I want to know you!” – not asking questions screams “I don’t care.”
Invite them to sit with you
Inviting someone to anything, even if it is to an empty seat, gives them a connection and a shared interest, thus exponentially increasing the probability that they will return and be glad to do so. If there is an event after church or during the week, even better. This will make a new person feel like they are wanted and their presence is appreciated.
Follow-up with them later
Be sure to get some form of contact info and follow-up with them after a few days. Let them know that you were happy to meet them and that you wanted to see how they are doing. This will prove to them that they are not just a number and that you are genuinely interested in them (as you should be). Be sure to let them know that you hope to see them again.
Be glad to see them again
The next time you see them, especially if it is at church, show them that you are thrilled to see them. When someone comes back for a second week, they are telling everyone, “I enjoyed my first week here. Now I want to see if it was the norm or a fluke.” Prove to them that it is the norm by being just as loving, welcoming, and friendly. After all, that is how we should be anyway.
We are not perfect and we will make mistakes, but as the body of Christ we should be ready and willing to make the first move in making someone feel welcome. They took the risk in coming to a new place.
Now it is our job to show them that the risk was worth it.