If you want to be intentional about helping guests feel welcome, you’ve got to be intentional.
Here are four simple ideas to get you started.
1. Make sure everyone on stage introduces themselves.
When you meet someone for the first time in real life, you introduce yourself. You extend a hand and say, “Hi, I’m Michael.”
So whenever someone takes the stage to lead a song or make an announcement, make sure they introduce themselves. It’s very natural and conversational.
It's as simple as “Hello, my name is Todd and I’m one of the pastors here at City Church. I’d like to invite you to stand and sing with us.” Don’t assume everyone knows that the guy making announcements is the associate pastor or the youth pastor. You don’t want guests asking “who is this?”
A simple introduction really helps people feel comfortable and makes the church service seem more personal.
2. Make sure your bulletin describes regular programs.
Too many times, the announcements are all about what’s special. Special events, one-time programs, and unique opportunities get all the space.
But new people are more interested in what happens all the time. I know it sounds boring, but people need to know about the normal things. So make sure your printed material and your announcements from the stage describe what happens in your church all of the time, not just some of the time. You might describe what kids are learning in the children’s environments, talk about small groups that meet throughout the week, or highlight volunteers who serve on a regular basis.
Of course, you’ll need to announce special events and activities, but give most of your space to what happens all of the time. That’s what first-time guests need to know.
3. Speak directly to guests.
No, not by name. And not to single them out, have them stand or have them raise their hand.
But at least one time in your service, speak directly to first-time guests and acknowledge their presence.
At the beginning of a message you could say, “If today is your first time here, we’re in week three of a teaching series and you can catch up on our podcast.” Or in the welcome you could say something like, “If you’re new to City Church, we’re so glad you’re here. In fact, we have a special gift for you at the welcome center in the lobby.”
Even if you personally know everyone in the room, welcome first time guests. It helps create a culture where guests are expected.
4. Create space in your lobby for questions and connections.
One of the best ways to make people feel comfortable is to create an environment where they can ask questions if they have them. It could be a kiosk, a table or a room, but creating a special environment for people is a great way to show you care and that your church is really for them.
Now people may not utilize an area like this on their first visit, but they will appreciate the intentionality and knowing there’s a place they can go when ready will help them feel comfortable.