CTA, Inc

Welcoming Guests: What NOT to Do

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The top 4 ways churches unintentionally make guests feel unwelcome are explored, with several examples provided.

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Introduction: Most churches want to make guests feel welcome. Despite our best intentions, we do things that can make guests feel not so welcome. Listen to this conversation to avoid those things and get good practices in place.

Summary: There are unintentional ways of greeting guests that actually make them feel unwelcome:

  • Swarming them (It’s understandable that the congregation is happy to have guests and wants to love them; just be conscientious about your guests’ feelings and keep them comfortable.)
  • Ignoring them (Sometimes people don’t know what to say or aren’t sure whether the guest is actually a guest or a person from the congregation they just haven’t yet met. Try to make sure at least one person greets guests, and then follow up with them after their visit if they leave contact information.)
  • Embarrassing them (“Stand up and introduce yourself!” Many people are afraid to speak in public. Be sensitive to their feelings.)
  • Confusing them (Consider the quirks and inconsistencies that “everyone knows” in your church; look for ways you can help people know what’s going on. Think carefully about the signage in your church.)

A great way of knowing how your church is doing on this is to ask someone who has visited a few times. This may be regular visitors or new members. Another idea is to have a “secret shopper.” Ask someone to visit and then afterward ask specific questions about what it was like.

Thought Starters:

  • Is there someone I could ask to “visit” our church, pay attention to what it feels like, and report back?
  • Considering the personality of our church, is it time for us to talk about how we treat guests?

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