We are two months into my second year appointed to Ransom and Verona. Both
communities are loving and giving groups of people. One thing I have noticed is the passion that
comes from within the church. There is a strong drive to bring friends and have new people
come into our community. With that in mind, I want to give a few tips for what you can do when
a guest visits our community of faith.
1. Lead with your name -
Surveys show that when people enter into churches for the first time, there is a large
portion of people who do not introduce themselves. The reality is that a first-time guest likely
won’t remember your name; there are a lot more of us than them. However, to make a solid
impression that we care and are welcoming, we have to make an intentional effort to reach out
to them and welcome them into our community.
2. Don’t invade privacy -
When people are looking for a new church, they want a level of anonymity the first few
weeks they are there. BUT WE GET SO EXCITED! In our excitement, we ask every question
we can think of to get to know them except their social security number and credit card
information. In fact, sometimes, being a guest in a church can feel something similar to being
under interrogation. Frankly, it’s because the people in the church are excited to see someone
new. However, there is a very delicate line between ignoring and interrogating visitors.
3. Don’t be fake -
When people are church shopping, there is a possibility that they are looking for every
reason to not attend your church. They want to know that the community that they choose to be
their own is a caring community that is genuine and authentic. Much like predators and small
children can smell fear from a mile away, a person visiting a church for the first time can smell a
fake a mile away. Be genuinely happy to see them and welcome them, or perhaps it might be
best to just leave them alone.
With these thoughts in mind, I want to give you a really simple and effective way to speak to
new guests. In fact, it is so simple that it isn’t forced or fake.
Start with eye contact and say, “Hi, my name is ____, what is your name?”
Be attentive to their answer and make a genuine effort to remember their name. Then use it in
the next sentence.
“Well, ____, we are so glad you visited with us today. Thank you for coming.”
Smiles are always nice. If you have the joy of the Lord in your heart, inform your face.
Hugs, for first time guests, are probably too much. A nice handshake would be just fine.
What comes next?
You could very casually introduce them to a friend of yours in the church, and make sure that I
know we have guests so I can introduce myself to them.
It’s that simple. Conversation can potentially flow very naturally between you and a visitor, but if
it isn’t, don’t push it. A short introduction, welcome, and thank you is enough. Otherwise, it could
This is getting more and more important in our church as we begin to reach out to different
areas. And we are already seeing more and more visitors. So, it is our job to reach out to them
in a friendly non-overwhelming way.
As always, please remember that you are all in my prayers. If you need anything, please reach
Jonathan Wisdom is the pastor at the United Methodist Church in Ransom, IL.