Shane (Covenant OPC, Hammond, WI) has taken us on a thorough journey of how to be a welcoming church, including the role of the pastor and the congregation (Series Posts). We are thankful for his work and thoughts from someone who is on the field trying to implement these things! This week he closes with some suggestions for the church as a whole and then some final words on being a welcoming church. Here’s Shane:
Here are ways churches can be more welcoming:
1) Make welcome folders/bags for visitors with a personal note and some easy-to-read literature about the Christian faith and the OPC.
2) Have a guestbook available or guest cards in the pews so visitors can give their info if they want a follow-up visit or discussion.
3) Put reminders in the bulletin or announcements from the pulpit about the nursery, Sunday school, coffee, potlucks, etc., so that visitors know about these things too.
4) Ask visitors who return several times if they want to be put on your church email update list and invite them to your church media sites (e.g. Facebook). Make returning visitors feel included.
These are just a few ideas to get readers thinking about how to welcome visitors. More could be added!
I know that sometimes it backfires when we show kindness to a visitor. Sometimes no matter what we do, a visitor will speak poorly of the church. It’s a sad reality, but it shouldn’t prevent us from seeking to show Christ’s love in welcoming those who come to worship or another church event. If you’ve ever heard a visitor speak well of your fellowship, you know how much of an encouragement it is! It’s for sure worth the effort.
Again, to reiterate, when we give a warm welcome to visitors it reflects well on the Christian faith and on Christ himself. We want visitors to think: “These people are loving and kind. They take Jesus’ words about loving your neighbor seriously!” If we’re loving and kind to visitors, it adorns the gospel and shows that the gospel affects our lives. A loving Christian welcome will help soften the skeptic’s skepticism, it will weaken the critic’s criticism, and it will help destroy doubts people may have about the faith. And, by God’s grace, Christian love will be one thing he uses to draw people to himself. May God help us love and welcome visitors for his glory and for the sake of the gospel!