Welcome to Our Church!  {Creating a Friendly Atmosphere}

Welcome to Our Church! {Creating a Friendly Atmosphere}

First Impressions Matter (A Lot)

They walk through the doors of your church, eyes darting this way and that, trying to discern their next move.  Mom is holding a slightly nervous (and very wiggly) two year old as Dad ushers a five and seven year old along the hallway.   They are greeted by an usher and handed a “Welcome Packet”.  This isn’t their first church visit, so they aren’t especially intrigued by this weighty piece of literature.  Instead, as they take their seat in the pew, Mom and Dad pass the packet along to the kids to play with and destroy at their leisure.

Suddenly, the seven year old remarks, “Look Mom!  The kids wrote a letter to me!  It’s all about kids church!”

Mom picks up the colorful piece of paper, and sure enough, it’s a hand written note from a child in the Children’s Church program, telling all about the class and how excited they are to meet someone new.

Feeling rather good about this little discovery, seven year old Kevin decides he definitely WILL check out this children’s church thing (he wasn’t quite sure before).  Of course, he better bring along five year old Travis too.  Just in case.

When the kids are dismissed, before Kevin is even on the other side of the Sanctuary doors, another kid about his age has saddled up to him and said, “Hey, you new?  I’ll walk you to children’s church!”

Perhaps this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Why Do People Come to Church

When people come to church, they are looking for two things: God and Friendship

If you’re church is a Bible-believing, Jesus-preaching venue, the God thing should happen pretty naturally.  The friendship part might take a little work.   Even though most of us are looking for friends, it’s still pretty intimidating actually starting that conversation.

Recently, our Outreach Director gave our Children’s Church program a little assignment.  She found a complete welcome guide on The Exodus Network geared towards kids.  In this PDF file, kids learn why it’s important to welcome newcomers, some easy ways to make others feel comfortable, and they even write a letter to soon-to-come guests.

Preparation after all, is half the battle (that’s a saying, right?)

So what are you doing to prepare your kids for guests?  Do you regularly welcome guests in Children’s Church?  Do you assign buddies to newcomers to help a guest “learn the ropes”.

Ideas to Get You Started

50 Ways to Welcome New People by Church Leaders 

10 Ways to Make a Child Feel Welcome at Church by Ministry to Children

Why Making Baby Feel Welcome is So Important by Ministry Magazine

Making a Great First Impression (on the kids) by Children’s Ministry Brain Trust

Circle of Mom’s Discussion: This one is a forum with the question, “What would make you come back?”  Interesting! 

Take One Step This Week

Sometimes after reading ideas like the ones above, you want to tackle every good suggestion ferver.  Don’t do it.  There is no expiration date to becoming a friendly and welcoming church.  Pick ONE (read it again now, ONE) idea and work on implementing it this week.  Slow and steady wins the race (now I KNOW that’s a saying!).

What About You?

Already got some welcoming ideas in place?  I’d love to hear about it!  Leave me a comment and let me know how you are working to develop friendships in your church.

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