MAHONING VALLEY DISTRICT
Be Our Guest . . .
Summer is coming and so are guests to your church.
Yes, really! The same season when our regular attendees are freer to travel is when many heavily scheduled families are freer to come check out the churches they’ve been thinking about attending. This month and next month’s columns will help you prepare.
Encourage your people to come when they’re in town. Your people are the body of Christ and undoubtedly the best thing about your church! Guests will never know that if they aren’t there. Dr. Ann Michel of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership
offers some ideas to keep your people engaged during the summer:
Train your people to be welcoming, friendly, and inclusive. At one of the churches my family (2 parents, 2 kids) went to last summer, the official greeter at the official welcome table right inside the front door was so busy talking to her friend I’m not sure she even saw us. At a minimum the official greeters need to be warm, smiling, and encouraging. But the entire congregation needs to understand that as Christians, it is an act of faith to welcome those around us, particularly strangers, because Christ welcomed us when we were strangers. If guests feel that no one noticed them or cared they were there, they will not be back. It is a tragedy if they don’t come back to your church, but a greater tragedy still if they don’t go to any church after that or if the experience further distances them from God. At a minimum, people should be smiling, making eye contact, and saying things like, “Good morning, I’m glad you’re here today.” Ideally, we’d engage with each other more than that, but I can tell you some of us are not up to that minimum level yet. There’s tons of articles about this topic online if you don’t care to read the books or attend the workshops about what it means to welcome your guests, not just your friends.
Update your internet presence. Do you change worship times? UPDATE YOUR WEBSITE, MOBILE WEBSITE, FACEBOOK, SIGN OUT FRONT, and anywhere else that time is displayed. Most people’s first visit to your church these days is virtual. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll get a second chance with someone who comes just as worship is ending, thinking they are a few minutes early before worship starts. They took the time to learn when your worship is, get up, get ready, and get there, but it feels like you didn’t care enough about them to make a simple change.
If you are able, it helps if it looks like there’s something going on at your church during the summer. Post those pictures of VBS, the ice cream social, the parade, or even “just” the pictures of people gathering to worship. Highlight the special music planned. Invite people to the summer picnic.
Coming next month…is your worship experience guest-friendly?
The Mahoning Valley District Office:
Rev. Abby Auman
4580 Canfield Rd, PO Box 11260 Youngstown OH 44511
Office Hours: Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
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