Basic hospitality seems simple enough, but it’s the psychology of it that gets tricky when churches use a hit-or-miss/hodgepodge plan (no plan at all!) for welcoming visitors. For example: Are you supplying self-serve coffee to everyone, or is the Welcome Team serving the coffee and making extra efforts to welcome guests? Here’s where the psychology comes in. If coffee is self-serve and unattended, the underlying message may come across as “You’re on your own; we’re taking care of our own.”
Be intentional and create the WELCOME that fits your church.
The first questions:
1. Does your church REALLY want and welcome new people?
2. Are your “regulars” invested in the importance of creating a genuine welcome?
3. Do you know the difference in creating a warm welcome and creating hospitality? (A welcome is evident from before guests arrive until after they leave. Hospitality is more basic and is usually starts and ends in a greeting area near the front door.)
The Genuine Welcome Checklist
Ensure your church has:
1) Words of welcome and an invitation to visit your website.
2) Good signage outdoors – Signage that communicates the welcome as well as your website address. This allows the community to know about your church before they arrive. Sidewalk and parking lot signs help visitors negotiate the campus, designate guest parking, and find entrances.
3) Good signage indoors – Signs that direct visitors to the nursery, the bathroom, the meeting areas, and/or to an information station. (Note: Visitors are already anxious about the unknown; it’s just added frustration when they can’t find designated parking, locate the nursery entrance, or pinpoint the location of the rest rooms…go here for Bev’s Basics for Great Signage Design)
4) Greeter reinforcements – On extra-high-attendance days, have your “A Team” greeters at the primary entrances, more greeters at back doors or basement doors, and additional greeters in the Children and Youth areas. All greeters should be trained, alert, and enthusiastic to convey their willingness to assist, lead, and give information.
5) A PLAN for welcoming guests, whether it’s a small gift, free coffee, or instructions to meet after the service
6) A welcome in the printed program, on the large video screens, or a verbal greeting during the service… whatever it is, have a PLAN that communicates “We were expecting you, and you are welcome here.”
7) Follow-up options – Equip your leaders with information on how to obtain follow-up information from the guest. For example: put a sign-up sheet in the Children’s Check-In area that says “Want more information on upcoming events for your kids? Write your email address here.”
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Blessed with the gift of gab and hospitality, Bev served as a staff member for a fast-growing church for almost a decade. Discovering her talent for helping people step out of their comfort zone, she began recruiting volunteers to serve in Children’s Ministry. As the church grew, her focus became the influx of visitors and the need to make sure they didn’t get lost in the growth. For this, she developed a full team of trained volunteers to create the “WOW, from the Street to the Seat”. Her success with this program lead to speaking engagements at churches across North Georgia, prompting a string of WOW experiences! Now, as Marketing Manager for Displayit at Church, she loves sharing her tips, tricks and ideas, that can make a real difference. “We’re all on the same team, the Jesus team. Let’s work together for the greater good!”