“Practice hospitality.” (Romans 12:13)
Have you ever heard someone in your family say, “Company’s coming! Let’s get ready!”
One of the great blessings each local church has is showing hospitality to everyone who joins them. As the New Testament church welcomed all who came (Acts 28:30, Romans 12:13, 1 Peter 4:9), it is a church’s privilege to do the same as a local body of Christ. What will it take to be a family where people can feel at home to worship God and connect with others?
Many of you might call your church “a friendly church.” Of course, you have friends there, so you naturally see it as friendly. But would a newcomer consider your church friendly?
Here are some practical steps you can take together as a church to create a culture that practices hospitality.
Get into the habit of calling your newcomers “guests,” not visitors. Visitors can either be welcome or unwelcome. Guests, on the other hand, are always welcome. You don’t necessarily prepare for visitors, but you prepare for guests.
Being a friendly church goes beyond just making eye contact with each other and forcing a small smile. Make an effort to just say a friendly “Hi!” or “Good morning!”
Here’s a practical step: Gary McIntosh, in his book Beyond the First Visit, recommends “The Ten Foot Policy.” Whenever you come within ten feet of someone you don’t know, just say hi! This simple practice will help all guests feel welcome.
Welcoming others is not just for the Greeter Team. Will everyone pay special attention to new guests and greet them? Again, just say hi! It would be a bonus if you start a conversation! If you see someone you don’t know sitting alone, go over and say hi before worship service starts.
The loneliest times for a church newcomer are (1) before the service begins and (2) right after the service ends. Here’s another great way to help guests feel connected, suggested by Dr. McIntosh: Right after the service ends, look for someone you don’t know to greet and talk with.
Make it a habit not to do any church business or talk to your friends until those five minutes have elapsed. Who knows? The person you greet might be someone who’s been coming to your church for years, or someone feeling alone on their first Sunday. Either way, they’ve made a new connection.
Brothers and sisters, let’s work together and create welcoming environments among our church families! Remember, company’s coming!