The Ultimate Checklist to Welcome New Church Guests

August 21st 2019

In a recent study done by the Pew Research Center, 48 percent of the people who claim they are Christians and don’t attend church more than a few times a year say they don’t attend regularly because “they don’t feel welcome.” Let that sink in for a minute. Nearly half of this group surveyed decided not to plug in at a church because they never felt connected, invited, or even welcome. Church guests are slipping away before they even have the chance to grow spiritually. This is a huge and sad reality for our churches today.

However, while this statistic is saddening, it should also drive you to action. What are the things you can do as a church to ensure that church guests feel welcomed? It’s going to take more than a fake smile and a handshake, but there are items you can put into place to help ensure that guests aren’t simply slipping in and out of your church.

We’ve compiled a checklist for you to work through as a church. Each item contains a short description, who on your staff should be responsible for this item, possibly a tool that can help, and an example if relevant. Print this list off, email it out to your staff, and/or hang it in your office as a to-do list so you can start reaching more church guests for the sake of the Gospel.

Your Checklist for Welcoming New Church Guests

✔️Make Your Church Website Guest Friendly

Welcoming church guests starts long before they ever step foot on your church campus. Your church website needs to be focused on welcoming guests, providing accurate and thorough information about your church, and giving them the next steps. This can best be done through a “New Here?” or “I’m New” page.

Who’s Responsible? Communications Director

Helpful Tool: Ekklesia 360

Example: SCG Church

✔️Improve Your Signage

The first moment your church building is in eyesight a first-time visitor should be able to find where to go using directional signage. This should include external and internal signage. Make sure to identify significant locations (sanctuary, main entrance, kids’ area, etc.) as well as necessities such as restrooms and exits. For more on signage, check out this step-by-step guide.

Who’s Responsible? Facilities Director

Example: Church Signage Inspiration

✔️Focus on Your Parking Lot

Next, it’s critical that church guests feel welcome from the time they pull into the parking lot to the time they leave it. This means having designated guest parking and a parking lot team that directs traffic. If you really want to go above and beyond have a valet team that is there to help elderly guests and those that have trouble getting around.

Who’s Responsible? Facilities Director/Outreach Minister

Helpful Tool: Elexio Church Management Software (to communicate and organize your parking team)

✔️Create a Trained Team of Greeters

Your church may already have door greeters, but there’s a lot more to greeting than just smiling and holding a door. It’s important that these greeters are trained to be able to identify people who look a little lost or new, help them navigate the building, and get them to a welcome center where they can find out more.

Who’s Responsible? Outreach Minister

Helpful Tool: Elexio ChMS

Example: Church Greeter Training Program

✔️Ensure That Your Church Building is Clean

This feels fairly obvious, but there’s nothing less welcoming than walking into a dirty, rundown, smelly building. If any of these adjectives could describe your church, you have some work to do. Everything from the entrances to the bathroom stalls should be clean, well-lit, and inviting.

Who’s Responsible? Facilities Director

✔️Design a Welcome Center

A welcome center is the epitome of being guest-centric at your church. This welcome center needs to be well-staffed with genuinely friendly and knowledgeable volunteers and staff members. It should also contain printed material that can give more information about specific ministries, programs, and events at your church.

Who’s Responsible? Outreach Minister

✔️Designate Check-In Stations for Kids and Students

One of the best ways to make parents feel welcome is to let them know that their children are safe and cared for. A check-in system is the best way to do this. This system can help to make sure that every child is safe, and that each worker is aware of special needs like allergy restrictions for each child.

Who’s Responsible? Children’s Minister/Student Minister

Helpful Tool: Elexio Smart Check

Example: Eagle Brook Church (Check out their section on check-in!)

✔️Address Guests from the Pulpit

It’s important that guests don’t feel singled out or awkward, but that they do feel acknowledged during your church service. This can be a simple greeting at the beginning and/or end of service with a few next steps (i.e. meet the pastor, visit a small group, etc.). Also, be sure to avoid church-specific language that might be confusing to church guests.

Who’s Responsible? Senior Pastor

✔️Assign Small Group Members to Focus on Guests

In a close-knit small group, it’s easy for members to be caught up in talking with their friends and miss the new person that may walk in. To make sure this doesn’t happen, select specific people in each small group to look for guests, welcome them in, and help them get connected.

Who’s Responsible? Education Minister

Helpful Tool: Elexio Group Management

✔️Make Information Readily Available

First-time guests often look for and need more information about ministries, programs, and events in your church. Designate an area (your welcome center or somewhere else) where they can learn more about what is going on. This area should also include information about membership so you set expectations right away.

Who’s Responsible? Outreach Minister/Communications Director

✔️Follow Up with Every First Time Visitor

Finally, and most importantly, in order to welcome church guests, you must follow up with them. Connect their information on a guest card when they visit and assign a staff member to follow up within a few days at most. It’s important to let church guests know that they were seen and that they are invited back.

Who’s Responsible? Age-specific Ministers

Helpful Tool: Elexio Workflows

Example: Follow Up Tips

Next Steps

Now that you know how to make sure that church guests feel welcome, it’s time to jump in. Print of this list and start checking off those boxes! If you’re looking for a church management software that can make this list easier, sign up for a free trial of Elexio.

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