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Are You Giving Everyone a Big Ol’ Church Welcome?

John Gilman March 21, 2016

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For the sake of the story, let’s say our family moved to a new home recently, prompting many visits from people who want to see our new digs. The process goes like this: a visitor rings the doorbell, we let them in, we show them around, we have a conversation while we guide them through the various hallways and rooms. Then, we hang out.

Imagine how awkward it would be if we simply invited them into the foyer, said hi, shared brief small talk, then let them out; hoping they might come back someday?

It sounds odd, but that’s tantamount to what many churches do. We get a new visitor, we say hi, and we send them on their way; hoping they come back, wondering why they don’t.

A proper welcome needs to have more than just a greeting. Churches need to create welcome pathways that guide people into more familiarity, connection, and relationship with the church.

With Easter just a week away, creating a positive and effective welcoming strategy is never more important. There is still time to put a great welcome process in place. Here are six tips to get you started in the right direction.

3 Tips for Preparing a Welcome Path

Collecting information and setting a process for proper follow-up is as essential as the welcome itself. Use your ChMS to gather information and use it deftly in the welcome process.

  1. Create Pathways: if your assimilation pathways are set up in advance, you’ll have more time to focus on getting to know new members instead of stumbling through the process after meeting them. Create a step-by-step process that walks new visitors through an ongoing welcome, and assign volunteers to specific tasks along the way.
  2. Develop Automated Triggers: When new members are welcomed and you’ve received their info, your triggers can manage the workflow on the back end, prompting volunteers to follow up at pre-determined times with follow-up emails, calls, or letters – making an impact with a personal touch.
  3. Share The Work: arrange your volunteers in specific places. One person doesn’t need to do it all. This is a busy time of year and creating different tasks for different volunteers along the welcome pathway will ensure no one skips an important step in the process.

The goal here is to have a thought-out workflow that spreads the burden and guides new visitors along the way.

3 Tips Your Members and Visitors Will Notice

Now that you’ve got your pathway process in place, it’s time to smile and apply a personal touch.

  1. Welcome with Open Arms: make sure you put your most gracious and outgoing volunteers out front, making the most of your first impression. Remind greeters to ask meaningful questions and form genuine connections.
  2. Walk New Members Where They Need to Go: your visitors need some guidance. Just because you know where you’re going, doesn’t mean they will. This is not a “hi and bye” situation. Remove the awkwardness of a new environment by walking alongside visitors from the front entry, to the child check-in, all the way into the auditorium. Also, show them where they can get information about your church and its ministries.
  3. Invite People to Connect after Service: before you leave them, invite visitors to enjoy coffee, pastries, and a conversation in a designated area of your church. Consider making a closing announcement from stage that encourages people to stay after and connect. This is where they might make a relational connection that will motivate them to respond to follow-up communication.

It’s the people that make up a church, but it’s the process that supports the people. Support your visitors, members and volunteers by establishing a thorough but personal welcome that guides them from the first step onto your property all the way through a thoughtful follow-up.

 

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