I was reminded by a friend’s Facebook post of an odd practice by some churches where they get newcomers to stand up, and the church welcomes them with applause. It got me thinking about the different ways we welcome newcomers – from welcome lounges to welcoming them by name, welcome packs to an invitation to the pastor’s house the following Sunday for lunch (and a guaranteed 2nd visit). Some of them can be pretty confrontational, particularly if the visitor isn’t certain whether they’ll return next week.
Yet, there is this sense of urgency in welcoming a new visitor to your church. We want to welcome them, the thought being that if they feel welcome then they will be more welcome to return again, and perhaps become a member. But if we come off too eager then we will scare them off with our welcoming. A tough line to tread.
This post has no answers, but I’d love to hear what your church does. At Devonport Salvation Army, we have a welcome pack which we offer visitors, which includes a book, some information about our programs, and some chocolates. I don’t know how well this works yet, but it’s what we have. I’d love to hear how your church welcomes new people, and as a challenge, why don’t you go to another church and see how they welcome you!