Being new to a church can be difficult. Think of what it was like on your first day in your church. Did you know anyone? Did you feel welcomed? Did you feel that people genuinely cared that you were at church? For most of us who have served on church staff, it’s hard to remember and understand the perspective of being new to a church and not knowing anyone. Through my recent experience of finding a new church home in a new city, I discovered it’s easy to quickly forget the perspective of being a new person in a new setting. This reminded me of the necessary empathy for our church guests. I’ve found if we aren’t intentionally and purposefully finding ways to connect with guests and new members, more than likely it’s an area that needs improvement. Here are 4 actions to help you connect with guests:
- Wear name tags. I understand you may know everyone in your group, but to the guest who meets several people quickly, it’s hard to remember all the names. Then, it can get embarrassing to ask the name. When everyone is wearing name tags, it limits the awkwardness of asking someone’s name you’ve met before. Name tags can also convey safety and security. They easily identify approved teachers in your kids’ ministry. It helps communicate to parents who the teacher is and let’s them know they have been screened and approved to teach their children.
- Ask genuine questions. Ask questions to get to know them and to learn about their story. As a reminder, please don’t make the other person feel as though they are being interviewed. You are genuinely wanting to learn about the person and trying to find a point of connection with them. You may know something about the area where they lived previously. Maybe you have a mutual friend or the same hobbies. You can even ask how you can pray for their family.
- Intentionally connect with new members. During the week, send a quick text or make a quick phone call to say hi. Plan to meet for coffee or invite the family over for play. Families in our kids’ ministries want to connect with other families and build relationships, but often don’t know how or don’t feel comfortable doing this. Help foster these relationships by identifying families in your church who have a heart for connecting with new families to your church family. Encourage them to build connections!
- Follow-up with a family who has recently joined your church. Ask them to be honest with you and their family’s experience. What helped them get connected? What could your church do better to make it easier to get connected? Make sure to give them the freedom and comfort to share honestly with you. Thank them for their honesty. Then, ask them to help you make the changes needed to help new families feel connected.
What other ideas would you add the help connect with guests and new members? Make an effort today to help ease the transition for families to your church and helping them feel connected.
Delanee Williams serves as a Ministry Specialist with Lifeway Kids. She is a graduate of Baylor University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Delanee has served in kids ministry for over twenty years and is passionate about developing, equipping and encouraging leaders.