Forward Today: Welcoming guests

Dear friends in Christ,

Image by Tom Sramek Jr from Pixabay

As summer comes to a close, schools are starting up again. Many churches are beginning a new program year with classes and other ministries. The early fall is a time when many churches see an influx of guests, as this is a natural time to go searching for a church.

Are you ready for guests? Is your church building ready?

Over the next two or three weeks, I want to explore hospitality in these weekly messages. This week, let’s think about the outside of your church.

When you get used to attending your church, it’s easy to start to overlook things, to forget how everything looks to a first-time guest. But if you want to be welcoming for guests, you have to be ready to see your church through their eyes.

This is a good time to check some basics. Is it obvious which door to use to enter? Is there a side door that “everyone knows about” but it’s not the big door by the church tower? Is the parking situation clear? Do you need some signs to help people navigate on their first visit?

Would someone in a wheelchair know how and where to enter your church?

Does the sign show the correct Sunday service times?

And how about the landscaping? Is your lawn well cared for?

These things might seem like they shouldn’t matter, but they do. First impressions matter, and a first-time guest’s first impression of your church begins before they set foot in the door.

Next week we’ll talk about welcoming guests once they’re inside. But this week, I encourage you to try to see your church through the eyes of someone who’s never been there before. If possible, ask a friend to help you out by being a “mystery guest” and telling you their impressions.

We live in a world where people are yearning for a word of hope. Coming to a church can be scary for folks who have never been, or who haven’t been in a long time. We can ease the way for our guests by offering a gracious welcome. Now is a good time to get ready.

Our goal in welcoming guests is not to sell them a membership to our club but rather to welcome people in Christ’s name. Warm hospitality is a blessing to receive and to give.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn's signature

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

More from our ministry:

Welcome passersby to your church with an Episcopal Church sign

From Grow Christians: The Power of Presence

Equip and empower churches to practice hospitality: Invite Welcome Connect

New release: Devotions for People who Don’t Do Devotions