Melissa Brown is Connections Coordinator at City On A Hill, Geelong.
In a post published at Gospel Coalition Australia she provides ten tips for effective welcoming:
“Welcoming is about the Gospel. It is about imitating God. But welcoming is also about common sense. Therefore, let’s preach and teach from the Bible about welcoming, but let’s also equip our churches to relax and welcome well.”
10 Tips for Effective Welcoming
- Get to know them. Ask questions, but not too many! Questions should produce conversation. Conversing is where real relating happens.
- Listen and be attentive. Don’t be looking over your shoulder every five seconds at what’s going on around you. It’s rude!
- Remember their name and use it. It’s polite!
- Be upfront. Ask, “What brings you to church today?” After all, you know and they know that they are standing inside your church…for the first time! So let’s not be coy. Talk about it. Being up front about this will actually help everyone relax.
- Be helpful if you can. People often go to church to seek something. It could be friendship, a spiritual home, connections and networks. For example, a young couple recently came to our church who had just moved to Geelong and I discovered the young man was a new graduate teacher looking for work. So I introduced him to my husband who is a teacher who was able to help him get his CV around local schools. They now attend our church.
- Hook them up with others (no I don’t mean in a romantic way). If they’re young adults, introduce them to other young adults. If they’re a family, introduce them to another family. I believe this is critical to good welcoming. Multiplying the links and broadening the community for new people is gold.
- Reconnect with them soon afterwards. Try to say good-bye before they leave and that you hope to see them next week. When they return, connect again! Genuine relationships.
- Invite them over for a meal. If the conversation is flowing and you feel comfortable about it, invite them to share a meal with you and your family/friends. Newcomers or welcome café nights are also great was to develop a sense of belonging to the church family. After all, families occasionally get together to share food to maintain the bonds of love.
- If they give you a phone number, call them! It doesn’t have to be a long conversation, but if you said you’d call, then CALL! Even if you didn’t say you’d call, still CALL!
- Pray. Our church welcome team always arrive half an hour before the church service to pray. We ask God to send new people to our church and to help us (and our church family) to love and warmly welcome everyone.