We invite guests to church precisely because we care. We care that they hear the gospel or grow as a Christian. We care that God works in their lives through the preaching of His Word and that they are ministered to through the body of Christ.
But knowing we care and showing we care are two different matters. How can you help every guest who walks onto your church campus sense your care for them? Here are seven ideas:
1. Offer Preferred Parking
Reserve some spots near the auditorium for first-time guests. Make sure they are clearly marked or that you have parking lot attendants directing guests to the preferred parking.
2. Welcome Guests Before the Service
In most Sunday morning services, there is a guest welcome included in the service schedule. But by then, a guest has already braved his or her way across the parking lot, into the auditorium, and perhaps navigated around children’s class locations as well. Having a team of greeters outside the building who can sincerely say, “We’re glad you’re here” and who are ready to help with any needs can go a long way in convincing guests that they’re welcome and wanted.
3. Provide Quality Children’s Ministry
For young families, there is nothing more welcoming than a place where their children want to be. (And there is nothing harder to overcome than a place where their children do not want to be.) Make sure your nurseries and classrooms are clean and inviting. Position greeters by children’s class locations who can help first time parents find their way around. Encourage nursery and children’s workers to be friendly to parents and welcoming to kids.
4. Pay Attention to Your Campus
Is it clean? Is it in good repair? Is it well maintained? Drive onto your campus, park, and walk around it as if you were a first-time guest. What would stand out to you? Make a list of any necessary repairs, maintenance, or remodeling. Nothing says “We don’t care” like negligence to facilities.
5. Give a Welcome Gift
As you greet guests in your service and ask them to give you their contact information, offer them a gift that will be a help to them. We give guests a gift bag that includes information on various ministries of our church that could be a help to them, a book, (we’ve used the devotionals from Striving Together Publications or Paid in Full), a CD with a sermon on salvation, and a letter from the pastor.
6. Remember Guests as You Preach
As you come to Bible words or biblical terms, make sure you define them. If you can, provide a printed sermon outline that includes your Bible text and Scriptures used throughout the message as a bulletin insert. This helps everyone to follow along, but it is especially a help to guests who aren’t as familiar with the verses and even the flow of a sermon.
7. Make Follow-up Visits
When a guest has given you their contact information, make a visit that very week to their home. If you can bring a gift for this visit as well, sometimes that helps break the ice, but it is not necessary. I find that guests usually appreciate the fact that someone cares enough about them to make this visit. When I visit, I thank them for coming and try to get acquainted. I always look for a moment to ask them if they are saved, and I’ve often had the opportunity to lead people to Christ on such visits. If they are already saved (or if they got saved the past Sunday at church), I discuss applicable areas of our church ministry that can help them grow in the Lord.
You’ve heard it said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Do your best to show guests that you care so you can tell them of the Saviour who cares so much that He died for them.