Helping Newcomers Feel at Home

November 1st, 2008

Nine tips for Welcoming Visitors in Worship

  • Accept and encourage casual attire.

  • Do not ask visitors to stand and identify themselves. Seventy percent of new attendees feel negatively about being recognized. However, they do expect people to be friendly and welcoming.

  • Provide nametags for the whole congregation and develop the habit of wearing them. Form a “tag team” to organize and promote name tag use. Review your church bulletin and other printed material to make sure information is not “insider oriented.” Avoid church jargon and assuming that people understand the context.

  • Make sure your order of worship is easy for a visitor to follow. Include written or verbal explanations of what is going on and why. Print the words to all prayers, songs, and responses.

  • Sing at least one hymn each Sunday that is well known outside the church, such as “Amazing Grace,” “Joyful Joyful,” or “Morning Has Broken.” Include a welcome to visitors in the opening words before the service. Make sure the person speaking identifies him or herself. It is best for the pastor to issue this welcome.

  • Remember that visitors sometimes arrive a few minutes late. Don't front load all the information directed at them.

  • Place information about your church's ministries where a visitor can easily find it—preferably in the pew, or a clearly marked location near the entry points used by visitors. Don't expect them to go somewhere else to find it. Prepare Visitors Packets to be handed out by greeters with information about your church programs.

  • Give visitors with small children a small activity packet (with crayons, pipe cleaners, stickers, etc.) as they enter worship. Avoid all talk about money with visitors.

  • Keep the discussion of “family business” to a minimum in the services. Limit announcements.


Excerpted with permission from 50 Ways to Build Strength in Welcoming New People, part of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership's “50 Ways to Build Strength” series, accessible at

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