2 November 2015

New people walk into our church services every week! So welcoming needs to constantly be on our mind. Here are some more tips about welcoming, and building community.

People don’t come to church without a reason. They have to make the decision to get dressed, transport themselves to the church (this can be time-consuming for many), to decide that they want to hear things about God and hopefully the Bible, meet new people. Perhaps they don’t know anyone but they still decided to come! They prepare themselves to hear things they might not agree with, meet people they may not like, drink coffee they might not want! It is a BIG deal for someone new to come to Church. Do you think it is fair enough that we make a big deal of them?

Most people are struggling with something, dissatisfied with a whole range of things. They know they make mistakes; some are really doing it very tough. Coming to church might be a last resort, their final idea of a solution. How are we responding to this as a community of believers? We have our issues too, but we are stronger and more secure than many! We know Jesus, we have hope and we love each other. And this is not normal and can be quite attractive, especially to those who have nothing, no one or no hope.

So knowing it’s a huge step for people to come to church, here are some things we can do that I have thought about or tried myself or seen others do really well here.

  • Pray for church each week, for people that come to make authentic connections to Jesus and his people. This is totally underestimated and a complete ‘must do’ for us!
  • Move past the nod, the g’day, the smile, the handshake into a real conversation.
  • Invite! I am completely blown away by a few young people at Night Church that invite 1st timers to a dinner every fortnight. It’s possibly our church’s best ministry!
  • Ask what people thought of church, who they are, why they’re here. Be genuine!
  • Seek to build relationship and connect them into the community. Don’t just welcome people well the first week and move on – it takes time, invest it well.
  • Know what is going on at church. Grab some welcome brochures, point to the website, have info about various ministries that could be relevant, be an aware Church member.
  • Remember people’s names, and details like job, study, family make up, interests!
  • Be nice! So many people have told me over the years that they went to a church, not necessarily ours, they met an angry or opinionated person, they never went back. Yes, people are people, they (we!) have bad days, but first impressions count!
  • Offer to sit next to new people, to give them your details, to get their details (perhaps to a minister), to get them a drink or food, to show them where the toilets are, to get a bulletin for them, to connect them to a Growth Group (if they are keen straight off).
  • Be consistent to everyone. You might not feel like it sometimes, you might not get along straight away with someone. It doesn’t matter, be consistent; love like Jesus.

Warmly in Christ

Andy Stevenson