10 Ways to Make Families More Welcomed in Your Church
Modified: January 9, 2024
If you are planning to welcome new friends and families to church, here are some tips and follow-up actions to make them feel welcome.
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The church is a place to build community and experience God in a community. God created us to be social beings and find support in the people He places in our lives, just as how God did for Adam with Eve (Genesis 2:20), and the church is the best place to find the support meant for us. Unfortunately, some church-goers feel more isolated than they did before they entered. Hospitality is something lacking not just in the world, but in churches as well.
But what does the Bible say about hospitality? There are many bible verses about hospitality, but Romans 12:13 and 1 Peter 4:9 defines the standard for us clearly: all followers of Jesus must consider hospitality as non-negotiable. We must love each other with brotherly affection and offer hospitality to everyone with a willing heart. Without hospitality, there can be no community. If we want to open the doors to people that God intended for us, we have to cultivate good habits at church.
How to Encourage New Families to Church
The first step to encouraging and attracting more families to your church is finding community members who may be willing to join. Whenever there’s a church event, pray and then grab your phone and invite them. Do not worry about rejection, leave that worry to God. Simply focusing on reaching out to these people.
Read more: 50+ Significant Bible Verses About Children
Plan to Invite One Person a Day
People turn away or seek out God for multiple reasons, and many of us look to God as a source of forgiveness. If you commit to inviting one person a day, you’ll introduce God to a wide variety of families who may need His guidance. Maybe your suggestion was the push they needed. So, don’t look down on “casual invites”. Our God works in mysterious yet extraordinary ways.
Invite Outside of Your Immediate Social Group
A majority of your immediate social group may already be active church-goers. To find new families, start recommending church service to those outside your inner circle. Consider going door-to-door, preaching the Gospel at work or school, or at the gym. While the Bible talks about spreading the gospel with gentleness, there’s no hard and fast rule of when, or where to do so. Jesus himself went to all kinds of places – both land and sea at that!
Introduce New People to Old Friends
Introducing new families to your old friends is the best way to make them feel a part of your church group. If they know more than one person, they’ll feel less awkward when you all get together. You can connect children and teens to your youth group or Sunday school group.
Welcome Those on the Margins
The Bible teaches us to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:12) and to speak up on behalf of the marginalized (Proverbs 31:8-9). We should welcome these people instead of turning them away. If Jesus did not turn away from taxpayers, prostitutes, and the sick, then who are we to turn them away? As Jesus said, He came not for the righteous but for the needy (Mark 2:17).
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Host “Play Nights” at the Church
Holding a fun day or night of play is a low-stakes way to invite families. Churches can swim, go camping, hike, and play board games and sports together. Consider hosting a book club or movie night every week. Place fliers around town and on social media saying all are welcome.
How to Make Church Guests Feel Welcome
Now that you know the best ways to invite people to your church, you can start making holistic improvements in and outside of those four walls. Here are a few changes you should consider.
1. Keep Your Website Updated to Make a Good First Impression
Church hunters will search Google to see if your community fits with their personality. If they don’t find a website or social media page, they might not even know you exist. That would be a shame, especially if you offer programs and services local families would be interested in.
Be sure to create a website that lists your ministry’s activities, the type of programs you offer, and the type of outreach you perform. Include essential info, like location and service times. In the end, your church’s website can be a great marketing tool for welcoming new members.
2. Be Authentic and Genuine to Show Others They Belong Here
Humans make mistakes because they aren’t perfect. You can’t make a welcoming environment without accepting this fact. Families who want to join your church will have questions about your stance on topics such as traditional marriage, and they should be able to express themselves.
Whether you think their opinion is wrong or right, is not the priority. You’re not here to project an image of perfectionism; you’re here to be a witness for Christ who accepts everyone for who they are. When you accept people for who they are, you open the door to sincere relationships that give people a sense of belonging.
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3. Give Gifts to Families When They Bring Children For Baptism
Giving new church-goers gifts is the fastest way to show them they’re welcome. Gifts can come in all forms and don’t have to cost much. A dozen home-cooked cookies are always appreciated, especially if you take the time to learn about their preferences or allergies.
If you’re blessed enough to host a baptism, consider offering the parents a rosary, Catholic saint candles, or a statue. You should also give a small gift to the child. Depending on the child’s age, a cross, personal Bible, silver rattle, piggy bank, or photo book could be appropriate.
4. Respecting Everyone’s Space
Having a joyful greeter at the door isn’t a bad idea. They can give visitors a personal connection with a member of your church. The right greeter can offer new families a low-pressure touch point with someone they’re bound to see every week.
That said, an overly zealous greeter may frighten away shy visitors. You can consider making the greeting period shorter. Or, greeters could speak to church attendants at the end of the service, giving everyone the option to socialize. The main idea is to respect everyone’s space. There’s no need to rush in to greet. Go with the pace of our new friends.
5. Rebrand Your Church (Name, Reputation, and Online Presence)
There’s no denying that one bad apple can spoil the bunch. Bad church experiences or negative reputations can drive people away from the church, and these reasons aren’t unfounded. The best thing to do in this situation is a rebrand, either in name alone or in what you preach.
That doesn’t mean we should go against God’s teachings; far from it. There’s already enough nihilism to go around in the world. But, focus more on the Gospel and do right by Him while also making our churches friendlier and more accessible online and offline.
6. Put New Parents at Ease (and Make Sunday School Fun)
Leaving your children in the care of strangers is terrifying for parents, no matter who you are. It’s the church’s job to put their mind at ease, and you can do this with your branding. For example, your church can post pictures of your children’s ministry staff online with a brief biography. However, the priority of having a heart to still remains.
Take pictures of your ministry staff with other children at church gatherings, such as camps or picnics. Parents will see the other children’s smiling faces and agree to meet with staff one-on-one. After a greeting and a chat, they’ll feel better about leaving their child in your care.
7. Connect Children to Other Church-Going Adolescence
Children are a blessing of the Lord and valuable ministers in their own right (Matthew 18:5-6), but welcoming them into the church is impossible without building connections. Young people are more likely to fall victim to peer pressure. Having a group of friends can help them stay strong.
The young people in your church can reach out to other schoolmates and invite them in. Ask regularly attending families if they recognize guests’ names as children who are involved in music, sports, or clubs. These connections can help encourage other families to join the church.
8. Eat Together Often and Put On Special Sunday Events
Breaking bread fills our souls and our stomachs. Whether you want to host a regular potluck or a fully-catered party, feasting together often can be a great way to integrate newcomers into church life. At these events, you can offer name tags to reduce anxiety in these situations.
If your church doesn’t have a lot of space, host a “newcomer luncheon” to which everyone, including newbies and long-time attendees, is invited. If you host these regularly enough, new church-goers and their families could easily attend one without having to plan ahead.
9. Ease Families Into Prayer and Other Church Rules
What we learn in the church gives us guidance on how to improve our spirituality, live better lives, and follow God. However, many newcomers like to ease into the more serious aspects of the church. Diving into the Gospel right away may scare families off for good or intimidate them.
Parents will appreciate someone praying for their family as they come into your church but don’t for it. Make them feel comfortable first, then ask if you could pray for their family. If you have enough people at your church, select a few volunteers who can act as “prayer greeters.”
10. Follow Up With Families and Keep Them in the Loops
To make any new family feel welcome, you need to let them into the church’s social circle. You can do this by following up with families, either at their homes or at the church. If you plan to go to their house, ask them when would be an appropriate time to stop by and don’t be late.
When going to their house, keep the visit brief (5 or 10 minutes). Don’t imply that you’re going to come inside or stay long, as that puts pressure on the family. Make sure to come with a gift, like a snack to share or a game to play. When leaving, thank them and invite them back to church.
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Hospitality Is Our Duty That Requires Heart
Inviting families into your church can make them feel more comfortable about attending, but not everyone feels confident when speaking to others. Keep in mind that prospecting isn’t a job just anyone can do, as it takes a great marketer and a lot of practice to get His message across.
With that said, making disciples of all nations is our duty as Christ’s followers (Matthew 28:19-20). If you have the confidence to preach to those who’ll hear it, you can bring hundreds of families into your church. With your hospitable words, your community’s gentle hands, and the Lord’s guidance, you can ensure that everyone and anyone who enters your church feel welcomed, valued, and loved.