"Distributing to the necessity of the saints; given to hospitality..." - Romans 12:13
Monday night at the Worship Committee meeting, we discussed and identified strategies in greeting visitors who come to our church. As I did some research in this area, I stumbled upon this except from a recently retired UM pastor, Rodney E. Wilmoth, who visited several churches upon his retirement and found ALL of them wanting in regards to greeting visitors. Here is an excerpt of what he said:
For 47 years, as a United Methodist pastor, I worshipped where I was appointed. Now retired, my wife and I are shopping for a church. We have found that many congregations must be more proactive when welcoming visitors…Churches could ask, “Are there opportunities we are missing in welcoming visitors?” Or, “Would we do things differently if we knew some first-time visitors would be coming?”
Here are four tips for congregations cultivating their ministry of hospitality:
1. Develop an intentional ministry of welcoming visitors.
2. Develop a specific plan for what to do with the visitors.
3. Seek suggestions from people who recently visited the church and then joined.
4. Help members and regular attendees understand how important it is for them to greet people.
A church that takes seriously the ministry of welcoming visitors will grow, because visitors will say, “That’s a friendly church! I think I’ll go back there next week.”
We need people who will serve as church hosts and hostesses. We need some folks who will put together visitor bags. Our church needs to develop a brochure that includes Sunday School information for each class. Our bulletin format will be changing to something more “user friendly.” And we need everyone to be pro-active in their greeting of visitors: making them feel welcome, asking them if their small children might be more comfortable in the nursery or attending Church in the Yard, etc. Just as we would make visitors in our own homes feel comfortable, we should do likewise for visitors in our church – God’s house.
This is not a job for the evangelism committee; it’s a job for all members of our church! Just think of how much our church has been a blessing to us – let’s share the blessing! As Jesus reminds us: the way we greet strangers is a measure of the way we would greet Him.
Jesus may be at church on Sunday – in the form of a stranger. How will you greet Him?