We have all been there. We see a face in the church that we don’t know. What do we do? We have problems if we ignore them. We can give them the impression that we don’t want them there. We also have problems if we rush them like sharks on a chum line. This gives them the impression that we don’t ever get visitors here. That is not a lesson we want them to learn. So, here are 7 tips for relating to guests at church:
1. Introduce yourself. There seems to be an inter-dialogue that happens in the minds of people in church. It goes like this: “Look, there is a visitor. Should I go introduce myself or just stare at them?” Easy answer- you should introduce yourself.
2. Engage in a longer conversation by asking questions. Conversations are becoming a lost art, so here are a few good ones: Do you live in the area? Did you just move to the area? What brought you to Westminster? What do you do for a living? Do you have family in the area? Do you have kids? What do you like to do when you are not working?
3. Remember that welcoming is not the pastor’s job. People want to like the pastor but they typically stick around a church because of the people that they connect with. Don’t just ask the pastor who that guest is. Ask that guest who that guest is.
4. Try to talk to them after church if you can. Visitors tend to want to jet after church. Try to talk with them after church. Ask them if they had any questions, if something really stuck with them from the sermon, and if they are looking for a church home. Invite them back to church next week or to another special event that might be upcoming.
5. If you have hospitality time after church then invite people down for cookies. I have found that this does not work real well. It is better to invite them down to talk to you more, walk down with them, show them the church, and sit with them to have more discussion.
6. Remember their name, even if you have to write it down. If they come back the next week then use their name, but also re-introduce yourself so that they don’t feel bad if they forgot your name.
7. One of the best things you can do for a person who comes into church is to connect them with another person. For example, if they have young kids, make sure they meet others with young kids. If they are a teacher, see if you can connect them with someone else who is a teacher.
If a person shows up in church, they did so for a reason. Maybe they are struggling with something. Maybe they are looking for a church. Maybe they are seeking God over a particular decisions. They are always more than potential members. They are people with genuine needs. We often only get one chance at a first impression in the church. Do your best to make it a good one.