Christmas is the most likely time you’ll have first-time attenders at church. It is so easy just to “go through the motions” and focus on the church family. However, during the holidays, people will drop in and others will bring family and friends, sometimes for the first time in a long time.
Don’t be one of those churches who fail to plan for guests. Do you have greeters in place? Is your signage clear? Do you have lots of welcoming people? Try to see your familiar setting through new eyes. Here are three things that can help you welcome and retain guests coming to your church this Christmas.
1. Expect them.
During the Christmas season, it may be fun to do something lighter. Open the service with an upbeat Christmas song—it may not even be a carol. How about Jingle Bells? Start with something light and fun. People will relax and feel more at home.
Be sure to plan for families. Guests are less ready to place their children in a separate program so staff the nursery well and plan to include kids in the main service if possible. That may mean a coloring or activity page for kids or engaging kids in a special portion of the program. Either way, make sure that kids and guest families are included when you plan the rest of the service!
2. Acknowledge them.
Talk to them from the pulpit. Introduce yourself. Let them know your name and who you are. Welcome them by saying something like, “If you are here today for the first time, welcome! You may not be a Christian or you may have questions about the Christ of Christmas…that’s okay. We are glad you are here.” Let them know what is going to happen in the service as you start out.
The goal is to make sure guests know what you’re doing, what you’re saying, and what you’re asking them to do. That might mean explaining why your church worships the way you worship, providing more context than you normally would while preaching on a passage (no “Christianese”) and explaining the connection between the truth of Christmas and your church’s mission.
3. Invite them back.
Make your service special but not unusual. Use the Christmas service to give people an idea of how services go every week. It is important to have a “next step” for those that attend. Invite them to a new sermon series. Have something to give them. Make sure you do follow up with a phone call or email. Remember, give guests a reason to return. It’s worth your while to listen to this podcast by Carey Nieuwhof following up your new attenders.
BEFORE YOU GO
Pray. Pray. Pray. Yes, we can invite them, make them feel welcome, share the Christmas story, but remember, only God can change a life.
What are you doing to welcome visitors this Christmas?