Becoming a Welcoming Church

As parents, we know all too well the pressures of simply getting out the door on Sunday mornings with kids in tow. Along with that comes the added pressure of checking our children into their classes, making sure teachers know about a child’s allergies, or calming a tearful toddler.

When it comes down to it, welcoming new people isn’t always on our radar. And sometimes, the bigger problem is that we think our church is already so welcoming that it won’t make a difference if we fail to greet a guest.

Thom S. Rainer (church consultant and author of Becoming a Welcoming Church) learned not to ask church members if their church was friendly, because “their biases tell them their church is great.”

Instead, he chose to survey hundreds of visitors. Of those who didn’t return, here were the top 10 reasons:

1.      The stand-and-greet time in the worship service was unfriendly and awkward.

2.      Unfriendly church members.

3.      Unsafe and unclean children’s areas.

4.      No place to get information on the church.

5.      Bad church website.

6.      Poor signage.

7.      Insider church language.

8.      Boring or bad church services.

9.      Members telling guests they were in the wrong pew or chair.

10.   Dirty facilities.

On the flip side, some surveyed did return. Here are the top 10 reasons guest returned:

1.      Someone asked the guest to sit with her.

2.      People introduced themselves to the guests.

3.      There was clear signage.

4.      There was a clearly marked welcome center.

5.      The kids loved the children’s area.

6.      The children’s area was secure and sanitary.

7.      Guest parking was clearly visible.

8.      The church did not have a stand-and-greet time.

9.      The members were not pushy.

10.   The guest card was simple to complete.

Notably, two of the top reasons visitors returned is that people introduced themselves and invited them to sit with them.

Let this be a good reminder for us all to practice hospitality in our churches—especially to those who are new.

Additional Resources:

·        Learn more or purchase the book from B&H publishers

·        Visit the author’s website: ThomRainer.com 

Sarah is the author of Bathsheba’s Responsibility in Light of Narrative Analysis, contributor to Vindicating the Vixens, and contributing editor for The Evangelism Study Bible. Some of her previous ministry experiences have included teaching and mentoring of adults and children in a wide variety of settings. Her small claim to fame is that she has worked with children of every age range from birth through high school over the past 20 years. She and her husband Ben reside in Richardson, Texas with their four children.