We go to favorite restaurants often. When we enter, several people say “Welcome!”. We love going to them and feel like they want us to come back.
Do you have similar experiences? How about a theme park? Did the ticket taker make you excited for the day ahead? How about the hosts along the way who helped with wayfinding. I’m often amazed that these parks seem to hirer the best in America.
So, how about the church? Often, we’re handed a brochure as we walk in. Some churches call out their visitors and ask them to stand. Others are told to “swing by our welcome center and we have something special for you”. It’s often a series of brochures.
Does this work?
I think we need to rethink the process. Here’s some ideas:
- Train Welcomers. Consider the first people to “touch” visitors. They need to be representative of your congregation, genuinely friendly, and informed. Don’t let anyone ask them a question they don’t know the answer to.
- Visitor Parking. Make sure it’s well-marked and that directions are well-demonstrated from that location in the parking lot.
- Ushers. Make sure they are genuinely friendly, and can identify visitors. These are the people who can help with wayfinding, answering questions and identifying the visitors after the service to check if they need anything.
- Pastors or Worship Leaders. From the pulpit, make sure the visitors are appreciated but not embarrassed. It’s always good to have a time for people to welcome everyone (not just the visitors). But be sure this is an upbeat time and encourage the love we should have for each other!
- Welcome Center. Ever notice how this center is in a conspicuous place at theme parks? Often, in the church you need to have a map to find it! Make sure people there are genuinely friendly and represent the whole. If there’s an older person there, be sure there’s also a younger person.
- Welcome Kit. When’s the last time you got a bunch of brochures and enjoyed it!? Instead, think about what a visitor would really want — perhaps a gift card for a local restaurant, perhaps in a nice holder with your URL and important info on it. Or maybe a great Christian novel (or a bookstore gift card) with a Church bookmark (with your info on it). Try to add value to the gift! And make sure your website address is on it.
- Website. Make sure your website has a visitor area that contains: 1) Times of your services, 2) A video of what a service is like (I think an edited version is better since most people want to watch 3-4 minutes only), 3) A personal video from the Pastor(s) that gives an overview of the doctrine and vision of the church.
I’m sure there’s more too. Anyone? How do you do it? I always love input from my readers. Let us know if you need any help with any of this.
PS. Probably this is a good place to talk about “visitor” vs “guest”. Guests are someone who you welcome and want back, where visitors have the idea of a one-time action. Perhaps your visitors’ ministry needs to be changed to a Guest ministry!