“Our message is that God was making all human beings his friends through Christ. God did not keep an account of their sins, and he has given us the message which tells how he makes them his friends.”
2 Corinthians 5: 19
Here’s what some churches in the Diocese of Edinburgh have found to be helpful in taking visitors ‘beyond welcome’. Please contact us if you have further suggestions to share.
- Making the most of ‘Invitational’ services, perhaps with local churches working together and developing a strategy for keeping in touch with people once they have come to church.
- Church leaders taking care to speak to visitors before or after the service, and having a ‘Welcome point’ where newcomers and visitors can go for coffee and a chat after the service.
- Trying to shake hands with people as they leave and having information to hand to give people at the door or the welcome point.
- Training people who are part of a welcoming team to make a relationship with newcomers, and from that relationship to put them in touch with others who can help to deepen their relationship with the church community.
- Having a way to let people know the church website address and how to contact the pastoral team.
- Email newsletters to let people know what is going on at church, which newcomers can easily sign up for.
- Having a welcome card which new comers are encouraged to complete so that a member of staff can follow this up with a letter within a week.
- Pastoral visiting teams to follow up newcomers by visiting at home if people have indicated that they would like this.
- Some churches have a visitors book to sign and send out a welcome pack to newcomers.
- Having an opportunity during the service to say ‘hello’ to the people who are sitting near by, having educated the existing congregation to make a point of choosing to speak to someone they don’t already know.
- Trying to introduce new people quickly to members of the congregation who have similar interests, families, work or other common interests .
- Encouraging leaders in the church not to do ‘business’ as a first priority at a service, rather to be available for purposeful welcome and gospel conversations.
- Being alert to pastoral care issues and being as helpful as is feasible to people’s situations.
- Working hard to get people into a small group quickly, for example a house group, or a short course, or a serving team, so that they can get to know people, and feel that they belong.
- Creating a church community that is moving forward spiritually, so that new people can see that there is more to church than just belonging.
- Promoting conviviality through social activities which have a community building and gospel sharing focus.
- Having a welcome breakfast on a Sunday, or a welcome meal during the week for newcomers.
- Having worship services during the week, eg afternoon tea and worship , mid week services.
- Making the most of weddings, and family occasions to share the gospel and encourage people to come back to church.
- Over time developing a range of ministries serving both the church community, the local community and further afield, and encouraging people to see how they can contribute to these ministries.