• Rev. Scott Carnes

Tips on Welcoming

Updated: Aug 5, 2019


Have you ever been in church and seen someone that you didn’t recognize? There are three possible solutions. The first option is to find a pew in which to sit...and assume that someone knows them. The second option is to ask someone that you doknow about the ‘stranger.’ The third option seems obvious, but it is the last thing that many churchgoers do...simply walk over and ask their name.

Now imagine it from the first-time worshiper’s perspective: A person unfamiliar with the church may have found the church on-line or by word-of-mouth. They discovered the worship time and drove to the church. They left the security of their vehicle and walked across the parking lot.

This guest is greeted at the door by a smile (we hope), receives a bulletin, and is directed toward the sanctuary. It is a large room with a lot of options of where to sit, especially if the person arrived early. Now, they have a dilemma. Do they go sit all alone or stand alone until other people begin to sit. Whatever their choice: they, too often, find themselves feeling self-conscious as everyoneelse seems to be in conversation or sitting in their familiar spot. And after worship it is often first-time guests that slip out the door first with just a smile and handshake from the pastor. Here are some tips welcoming first-time worshipers to church:

  1. First, if possible, offer to bringpeople to church rather than just inviting them or consider meeting them in the parking lot or at the door and plan to sit together.

  2. When a first time worshiper is spotted in church go over to them and introduce yourself. Share something about yourself and create space for them to reciprocate (but don’t make them feel they have to share).

  3. Tell them why you love the church, but then share something more personal about yourself.

  4. After a short conversation, introduce them to peopleyou know and enjoy (try not to “pawn” them off on someone or try to pair them up with people ‘more’ like them)

  5. If they have children, tell them how much we love to hear children in church!

  6. Invite them out to lunch with a group. Wouldn’t it be nice if every visitor had 5 different lunch invitations?

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Abingdon United Methodist Church

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