One of the challenges that large churches face on a weekly basis is providing a welcoming atmosphere to guests. In a church like ours, where 2,000 or so people worship on a Sunday morning, it can be easy for a newcomer to be lost in the shuffle. Our goal as a church should be for guests to feel welcomed, comfortable, and clearly directed from the moment they enter our parking lots.
In a recent book by Lifeway President Thom Rainer, he lists ten factors related to a happy guest experience. Of the ten, four of them specifically relate to regular worshipers. They are:
- Someone asking the guest to sit with them. Finding the right seat can often be uncomfortable for a guest. You can alleviate the discomfort by asking them to sit with you!
- People introducing themselves to guests. One of the reasons people look for a church is to find a place to connect relationally. Helping them do that early on is one of the most welcoming things they can experience.
- Available guest parking. We have several rows of first-time guest parking every Sunday. In addition, I hope you will park as far as away as you can, leaving the prime parking spots for those newer to our church. We have a fleet of shuttles that can get you to an entrance quickly.
- Members who were not pushy. Genuine care and concern for others should be a significant mark of a gospel-centered church. Offer a smile, learn names, make connections, and do so in an authentic and winsome way.
(Adapted from Rainer, Thom. Becoming a Welcoming Church. Nashville: B&H, 2018)
On a regular basis, I hear that one of the defining characteristics of Ingleside is a welcoming presence. I’m so thankful for teams of leaders that provide initial handshakes to guests of our church. People on the parking team, welcome team, hospitality team, and others across our ministry do an outstanding job. In fact, we can always use more volunteers in those areas. However, it takes more than these key teams to provide a welcoming atmosphere. It requires an entire church committed to the principle. Perhaps a verse from Scripture would put an exclamation point on this value:
“Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” (Romans 15:7, ESV)
In light of the gospel and for God’s glory, let’s be the welcoming church that God intends us to be.
In the Spirit,