Who to recruit?
It sounds simplistic, but recruit for your Welcoming team those people in your congregation who are great with people; those who are extroverts and can deal well with a variety of people. Remember there is a difference between a greeter, who is stationary at one door and changes every week, and a “Welcomer or Connector” who is mobile, and is trained to deal with those who are first time guests to the church.
Where to place welcomers
Every church is different but here are some factors to consider:
- More and more congregations are having a parking lot greeter who will direct people to appropriate parking spaces.
- Make sure there is signage to direct people to the door you want them to come through. In some cases it may be appropriate to have a hospitality table outside the appropriate door.
- Welcomers or Connectors are then stationed at or near this guest entrance. They are not there to greet everyone but to deal specifically with first-time guests.
What do welcomers do?
The primary task of Welcomers is to connect the unattached guest (someone who has come by his/her self) to people in the congregation.
This begins by discovering if the person is new or not. The best way to determine this is to simply ask: “I don’t think we have met before” (rather than “are you new?”) It is important to “read” the new person. Some folk want to dive right into a church and meet lots of people on the first visit, while others want to remain anonymous and sit in the back pew for a few weeks. The appropriate action by the Welcomer depends on understanding the needs of the Guest. We want people to feel welcomed but not assaulted.
After the greeting, the Welcomer may do some of the following:
- Show the guest around the building;
- Show them directly to the worship center;
- Provide access to coat racks, restrooms, etc.;
- When children are involved, show the parents to the nursery or church school room and introduce them to the teachers;
- Offer to sit with the Guest during worship (if appropriate);
- Offer to escort the Guest to the Coffee hour (again if appropriate) and introduce him/her to a variety of people. It is helpful to try to “match” the Guest with others in the congregation of the same age, family situation, etc.;
- Offer to walk the Guest to their car and send them off with a small gift or a flyer about an upcoming event or worship service.
Again, all of the above are determined by the Welcomer’s understanding the needs of the Guest and acting accordingly. Such hospitality is more of an art form then it is an exact science.
Research shows that someone coming to our church for the first time makes up his/her mind in the first 4-8 minutes if they are coming back. Welcomers play a key role in those important first minutes.
May those of you with the gift of Hospitality use this gift well to make room for the first time Guest.