productivity

4 Ways to Welcome Easter Church Goers

On Easter, you can count on seeing unfamiliar faces along with your weekly regulars. Folks will bring family members who are in town for the holiday, Easter/Christmas attendees will make their semi-annual appearance, and others may come, well, just because. Whatever a newcomer’s reason for sitting in an unknown pew surrounded by unfamiliar faces, it’s your mission to offer them a warm, genuine welcome.

But we all know that Easter is a busy time, and it’s all too easy for staff and members to focus on their families and plans for the day instead of on the opportunity for outreach. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to plan your welcome strategy in advance so that those unfamiliar faces don’t remain strangers for long. Here are 4 tips for making sure that guests are warmly welcomed by your congregation on Easter Sunday:

 

1. Coach Your Members

In the weeks before Easter, start coaching your members on how to welcome seasonal guests. If your church doesn’t see many new faces, remind members that swarming “new blood” and making guest feel like they’re a novelty at your church is not the object. Too much attention will make most guests feel uncomfortable. Of course, the other extreme — treating guests as if they have the plague — isn’t recommended either. Stealing glances at newcomers while staying at a distance and never actually greeting those brave souls probably won’t result in returning visitors.

In order to avoid these pitfalls, it’s okay to address them specifically with members. Hopefully, even congregants who have been guilty of these mistakes will do better this Easter.

How should members interact with newcomers? A friendly welcome from a few regular attendees is nice. Encourage members not to make assumptions. Just because someone is unfamiliar to you doesn’t mean they’ve never set foot in a church or that they’re at a moment of spiritual crisis. Members should be friendly, but not assuming. Encourage them to introduce themselves and ask a newcomer’s name (repeating the name out loud can help with remembering it) and what brings him/her to your church. If answers don’t satisfy curiosity, that’s okay. Just make sure that they know you’re glad they’re here.

 

2. Explain Liturgy and Jargon

On Easter Sunday, pastors and worship leaders should carefully comb through their scripted service with a newcomer’s eye. Look for rituals and terms that are unique to your church or even the church in general and think about what might confuse the un-(or less-)churched.

Note places in the service where the leader can pause and explain why you do what you do. For instance, if your church celebrates communion, explain what it is, what your church believes, and what role a visiter may take in the celebration. If you have responsive readings, pause to explain what you’re doing and make sure response are written out for people to follow along. If there are times in the service when congregants rise or sit, clearly indicate these so that newcomers aren’t confused or a half beat behind.

In general, simplify churchy language and don’t build too much on scriptures or traditions that haven’t been mentioned in the service. This will help you not lose people who are not versed in scripture or who are a little rusty.

 

3. Bring out Brunch

If you’d like your Easter morning guests to mingle before or after the church service, consider having a special brunch. There’s nothing like a cup of coffee and some comfort food to warm up conversations. Here are a few guidelines for an especially welcoming brunch:

 

4. Invite Them Back

Be sure to let guests know that they’re welcome back! Include regular service times as part of your announcements, and have a guest-friendly event planned for a near date. A specific invitation will give those who are interested in coming back again an event that they can put in their calendar. Having an online registration opportunity or signup ready to capture them while their hearts are on fire for the Lord increases the chances they'll take that next step while their enthusiasm is at its peak.

 

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