This is Part Two of a Three Part series on effective hospitality. (Part 1)

Help your greeting team to understand the importance of the first impression that they make on your guests. These non-paid ministers on your greeting team are at the heart of your church’s growth. Invest time in training them to offer appropriate contact, acknowledge kids, gush over new babies, and help guests find the friend who invited them. This goes a long way toward showing that guest’s matter. If you don’t already have greeters in the parking lot or at the entry doors (greeters stand outside the doors even in inclement weather), it’s time to deploy them.

Your first impression greeters should have umbrellas on hand to shelter people as they walk across your parking lot in case of rain, snow, or even the hot sun. Your greeter’s primary ministry is to extend a hand and a smile to break down guest’s apprehensiveness. Attending a church for the first time is likely the scariest thing someone is going to do all week, so you should make that experience as comfortable as possible.

At our church, our hospitality team was also responsible for distributing the bulletin as they greeted each arrival. This exchange of printed information is another opportunity for connection and conversation. No guest should pass through your doors without hearing several “Good morning,” “Good to see you” or “We’re so glad you are here.” There are times when your long term members may not have met someone who has been coming for many months. Obviously, you would not want to go up to them and say, “Is this your first time here?” or “Are you a visitor?” Rather, introduce yourself and say something like, “Hi, my name is _____.” After they introduce themselves to you, then you can follow up with “How long have you been coming to the church?

I would also encourage our members to intentionally sit near newcomers. This is probably the least utilized and yet most strategic step that can be taken to become a welcoming church. People are creatures of habit and naturally do not like change, so we need to be intentional to ask our members to try and sit near where a newcomer may be. When congregants intentionally sit by someone new, they can easily invite them to the fellowship time after the service. If you meet a visiting family before the service, sit with them and help them feel comfortable in this strange place by introducing yourself and explaining what’s going on. Assist them if they look unfamiliar with the order of service and what song/ hymn book to use.

Excellent hospitality is the key to turning first-time visitors into returning guests. However, if you don’t have a steady flow of first-time visitors, great hospitality isn’t going to help you grow your church.

The Get More Visitors Checklist is a no-gimmick tool that will help you turn a trickle of visitors into a steady stream.

And you can get it free. Just click here.