As ministry leaders, we all want the people in our ministry to feel welcome when they come through our doors. Too often we get so caught up in the ins and outs of what tasks need to be done to make the ministry run that day that we miss an important opportunity to make people feel like we are glad they came – like they belong.
Over the last few months we have had lots of people visit our house. We just had a new baby so we haven’t put our whole hearts into having guests – everyone is a little stinky, the house is a wreck, and our brains aren’t always working at full capacity. Luckily, we have a two-year-old. Despite all of those things, everyone that has come into our house has felt loved and cared about. Watching the joy that she has and shares with others has reminded me of a few things that will be helpful to keep in mind as I greet volunteers, children, and parents on Sunday mornings and beyond.
5 Lessons From a Toddler: Making People Feel Welcome
It’s not just about space.
Space is important because it gives people cues about the ministry and what you value most. However, people don’t stay at a church simply because there is a cool mural on the wall or all the goldfish are swept off the floor. They stay because they feel known and valued.
Anticipate their arrival.
Think about them before Sunday. Pray for the new families that will visit. Make a note of something that you want to share with someone that you think they will enjoy. Think about how someone will like something or remind yourself to ask someone a follow-up question from the week before. Be so ready to see volunteers, leaders, and parents on Sunday morning that you can barely contain your excitement when they actually arrive.
Be prepared for them.
This goes along with the previous point. Not only should you think about them, but you should make sure that you are ready for them when they get there. Make sure volunteers have access to what they need, early arrivers have an intentional project to do, and first time guests have all the necessary tools to have a quick and easy check in process.
It’s all in the little things.
A friend of ours came over to the house with her daughter. My daughter has only been around the girl a few times but from the bottom of the stairs threw her arms open, let out a squeal, and yelled her name loudly. Don’t underestimate the power of knowing a name, remembering something from the week before, or giving a great big smile.
Be present in the moment.
When someone comes to visit, my daughter treats them like they are the only thing in the world. She wants to talk to them, play with them, sit on their lap, and show them her favorite things. Unless it is an emergency, give people your undivided attention. Let them know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you care about them and are glad they came today. It usually only takes a few minutes and it goes a long way.
Making people feel known, loved, and welcome helps prepare them for the message of God’s incredible love that they will receive once they are inside your ministry. There are so many ways to do this.
How do you make people feel welcome each and every week?
(please share in comments below)