By Kristin Schultz
There are endless articles and books about why your church and ministry should be welcoming to visitors—especially at popular holidays like Christmas and Easter. You have probably been to churches that are not particularly welcoming or friendly, and you know how awkward that feels. No matter the size of your church or your budget, any church can warmly welcome visitors, make them feel at home, and share the good news of Jesus with them this Easter.
- Keep up curb appeal. Make sure the property that passersby see from the road is kept up. Cut the grass and get rid of weeds. Plant annuals or perennials for a nice splash of color. Fix peeling paint on the building or windows. Replace broken or burned out lightbulbs.
- Make parking a pleasure. Make sure the entrance and exits to your property are clearly marked. Keep your blacktop in tip-top shape and keep parking lines clearly marked. Consider designated visitor parking spots and consider removing “reserved for pastor” parking spots.
- Clearly mark building entrances. If you have a backdoor or other side entrance, post signs that point visitors to main areas.
- Be sincere. Ask people to be greeters, but only if they want to serve in that way and are good at it! Greeters should welcome visitors and regular attendees with the same enthusiasm, warmth and sincerity, and be ready to point people to important places like the sanctuary, restrooms, the coatracks, and Sunday school rooms. If possible, have people escort visitors to the right places.
- Make it obvious. If your facility is a bit of a maze or even if it isn’t, make sure essential locations like bathrooms or the fellowship hall are clearly marked.
- Give permission to not know. Encourage all church members to greet people they don’t recognize. That can be awkward but suggest people open the conversation with, “I don’t think we’ve met before . . .”
- Accept anonymity. Not every visitor wants to be publicly recognized. Do not ask new people or first-time visitors to stand up during the service to be recognized.
- Make it easy. Let people know how to follow along with the service—on screens, in a printed bulletin or program, or in a hymnal. Make practical announcements part of your opening welcome.
- Give them more. Write and print additional literature about your church and ministries that newcomers can take with them when they leave. Personally hand them the information or make sure it is prominently displayed.
- Follow up. Call, text, or email visitors the week after Easter. To do this, you’ll need to make sure you have an easy and non-intrusive way to get the information like an attendance sheet or card. Reach out and tell the visitors you are thankful they came, and you are interested in what they thought of their experience. Offer to answer any questions they have.
How are you preparing your church for Easter visitors?
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