Growth is such a key buzzword that lots of churches use to signify change and their success in expanding their church.
One of the most important ways of seeing church growth is through the new church members you have. These people should be treated as special guests and welcomed accordingly, using a plethora of church welcome ideas.
I know from my time working at Angelus Temple in Los Angeles, California that how, when, and why you welcome your new church members is absolutely one of the most delicate areas you have to iron out. This is not just so that the new visitors feel welcome in your church, but also so that their first visit is far from their last.
What Is A Church Welcome?
If you’ve attended just about any church in the 21st century, chances are you already have an idea of what a church welcome is. This is essentially where the pastor or another staff member comes on the stage during a church service and greets everyone who arrived at church that day.
This is a basic routine procedure that every church should be offering every single time the doors open for a service. In its most basic form, it is just saying hello to everyone who is attending and giving special attention to the newcomers in the crowd that day.
However, it can be much more than that, too. Some churches go all out with so many different sayings and special greetings that they give each week. Some will throw in some Bible verses or stories that they have for the week. And yet more have some instructions to give to the newcomers there.
A church welcome can be as huge or small as you want it to be. Regardless, it needs to be there in every church. Otherwise, you’ll run into some messy territory.
Why Have A Church Welcome?
If you are wondering why such a ritualistic thing as welcoming everyone to church is necessary, there are a few solid reasons why.
For one, there is the simple fact that everyone should feel loved and welcome at church. Jesus teaches in the Bible that we need to share the Good News and we should do that beaming with excitement (see Romans 10:15).
Greeting people at every church service is part of that as it can bring some necessary fun and hype to what some first-time newcomers might anticipate to be just a boring church service. In addition, there is the fact that we should always want new church members to not stay new for much longer.
Inviting new visitors is always the first step, but the ultimate goal should be to integrate them permanently into the congregation. Welcoming first-time visitors shows that they are important to your church and that you want them to feel as special as God made them be. Otherwise, they’re just another face in the crowd and they’ll feel drowned out this way.
Lastly, having a warm welcome creates a loving and rich environment that reflects that of the early church in the Bible. There are several stories in the Bible of the early church leaders meeting new people, bringing them into their services, eating meals with them, and getting to know one another (see Acts 2:46).
Because this intimate and loving atmosphere that they constantly promoted, brought exponential growth on an unprecedented level. This wasn’t just for the early church, either, as we should use this as our own blueprint for how to handle our churches today.
Part of the equivalent of that is creating an environment where everyone feels welcomed.
15 Church Welcome Ideas
Admittedly, for newer churches and those new to the idea of church welcomes, it can be a little daunting. As such, I’ve come up with several ideas below that I think you can use to welcome people to your church service every time. Some of these are tips, others are guidelines, some are examples of what to do, and others are simple recommendations.
This first idea might seem like sort of an obvious one but it is worth noting that you need to have some energy and life to your church greetings.
I have been to too many churches where the greeting is dull, lifeless, or even robotic. It felt clear to me even as a newcomer that this is the same old speech and rigamarole they do every week.
That’s not how you welcome visitors and even your older members to your church every week. Our walk with God is supposed to be full of energy, life, and positivity; not feel like a drag or going through the motions. This even goes for your church welcome so find ways to throw some hype into the mix.
One example of this is having some giveaways. I love when it is Mother’s Day and they greet the mothers in a church service by giving away some special gift cards or prizes, for instance. But that doesn’t have to only happen on special holidays! Give away church t-shirts, tickets to a Christian concert, or a gift card to a local restaurant on a regular basis.
Another way to add some energy to your church greetings is to ask questions and get the audience involved. Even simple inquiries will work, such as “who’s excited to be at church today?” or “how are we all feeling this week?”
Do something to get the attention of the congregation and keep them engaged the entire time, especially if you’re following up on something exciting like worship.
This includes before church, too. Have greeters or members of a welcome team at all of the entrances who are energetic, kind, and helpful. Be ready to help at a moment’s notice with any issue the new church member might have, be it finding the children’s ministry, restroom, or even handing out free coffee and donuts. This gives off an excellent first impression.
Include Next Steps for Your Newcomers
This is by far the most important part of your church welcome speech and the one you absolutely should implement if you don’t already. Greetings are necessary for first-time guests, but don’t let it stop with just a hello. Include some next steps and instructions that will lead to those newcomers becoming much more than that.
For instance, some churches like to offer small gifts like a themed shirt, mug, or gift card for showing up to church that day in exchange for maybe a completed connection card. Offer some details in the greeting for what they can do after church to receive that gift. This could include visiting the welcome desk after church and filling out some contact information, for example.
Other next steps could be a meeting or lunch with the lead pastor right after church. The key is to offer some sort of benefit in your greeting that will entice the newcomer to follow through with those next steps. Even then, not every visitor will do what you ask but you’d be surprised how many will if there’s something in it for them.
Don’t Draw Attention to Newcomers
This might seem a little bit contradictory but one idea that you should never do is draw too much attention to newcomers. By all means, greet the newcomers from the stage and show them some love for showing up to church that day. However, never single out any actual newcomers by asking them to raise their hand or anything.
Yes, I have been to churches where they literally pointed to me, specifically, and welcomed me. Never do that as it creates anxiety and embarrassment for the newcomer who might not want that attention. In a less dramatic but still problematic manner, never ask them to raise their hands, either.
This is also quite common as deacons and volunteers can then bring them welcome cards to fill out. Don’t do this as this will, once again, cause the newcomers to feel judged or embarrassed and be less likely to fill out whatever you want them to.
Welcome cards are totally fine and even recommended but just make sure to do it in a less forceful and more relaxed manner. Even if this means putting them on the back of seats for those to voluntarily fill out. Better yet, put the visitor card in the church bulletin that everyone receives when they walk in. These are better ways to handle this.
More Church Welcome Ideas
To conclude the church welcome ideas, here is a quick list of 12 extra tips and ideas that I have for you that will elevate your church greetings:
- Mix your church welcome up! It can be a little bit repetitive and boring for your active members to hear the same thing every week. Try to change your speech and all that every so often.
- In the same vein, rotate staff members and pastors out to greet the guests.
- That said, having the lead pastor greet the newcomers is never a bad thing. Hearing from the person in charge shows they aren’t too big to do something simple like greeting, plus it familiarizes the new members with the person who will be preaching later.
- Show off your church in your greeting. For example, include a video or photos of your recent outreach or event when you do the greeting. This informs new church members what your church is all about, including any Sunday School classes and various ministries.
- Engage with the audience in one manner or another. For instance, if there is a specific verse you want to focus on for this week, go over it.
- As a follow-up to the last tip, you could also tease the theme for the message for that service, like giving the title or theme for it.
- Include a prayer to start off the church service right and pray blessings over everyone in the congregation, new or not. This is a great time to have a prayer request section, too.
- Feel free to shake things up. Most churches I have experience with greet their new church members after worship but you could mix it up and start with the speech right off the bat then lead into worship if you’d like. You could even change it up and switch between the two methods every so often.
- Be wary of mixing the weekly offering and tithe with the church welcome. If they happen around the same time, it can feel greedy or weird to newcomers. One way to differentiate between the two is to have another staff member or pastor handle the offering after the welcoming.
- That said, it’s totally fine to mix church announcements with your welcome speech. This is another element that can be quite fun and it’s nice to show the newcomers all of the church events coming up. Announcement videos can be awkward at times, depending on editing and the script, or short and sweet like this one from Graystone Church.
- Have a welcome center and follow up with the newcomers. Give them a nice text, email, or call later in the week to remind them you care and are praying for them.
- Have special parking and seating just for newcomers. Don’t force them to go there, as they may not want the attention, but offer it for those who want it, especially at a major worship service like during Easter.
How to Keep New Members
Finding the right ways to greet your new church visitors and help them feel welcome from the moment they pull into the parking lot all the way to when they leave the premises is necessary. However, it is only the first step when it comes to growing your church and helping visitors feel right at home.
There are eight major marketing areas you can tackle in your church that will make the entire experience feel even more welcoming to newcomers than just with the church welcome speech. In addition, it can help retain those visitors and turn them into active members of your congregation. Find out more about how to do just that here. Social media marketing is one specific area that can help you gain and retain new church members.