We just recently built a new kids check-in station for our welcome center at church. Previous to our beautiful new desk, we’ve been using a clunky black mobile cart with ipads and label printers fixed on top. It served its purpose and has been versatile for other events outside of Sunday service. We would use it in other areas of the church for checking kids in for midweek programs and childcare for adult Bible studies.
As useful as the cart was, it raised the concern that we weren’t thinking of Sunday. Here we have a permanent building with permanently set weekly service times and we are using a temporary solution for a long term event. This gives the impression that our children’s ministry is an afterthought. This is not what we want!
When we welcome families, new and recurring, into our church, are we giving thought to the space we create for them? Do we have a mobile check in cart shoved under the stairwell or did we take the time and effort to create a welcoming and engaging space for them?
When we welcome guests into our space, what do they see? What do they feel? Are directions to the children’s ministry area clear? Do we have people waiting to guide them to their destination? These questions and more need to be answered. If we are not thinking through the lens of guest services, are we really hoping and expecting we have guests on Sunday at all?
Research tells us that a guest will decide if they will return to our church within the first 7 minutes of their experience from the time they enter the parking lot. That means our welcome team plays a crucial role in bringing people back to us. We get 7 minutes, folks! That’s before the first worship song or the intro to the pastor’s message. Door greeters and kids check in team members are critical.
So how do we welcome new families into our churches? Here are 3 rules we should live by every week to ensure families feel loved and come back.
1. Make intentional First TIme Guest space.
We should have the expectation that guests will be coming. Once they arrive, there should be a designated space for them to go. Where will their kids check in? How will you collect important contact information from them? Is your space clean and tidy? Is it organized?
We should have a guest services team ready to escort them to where they are trying to go, whether the children’s ministry wing or the sanctuary for service. Welcoming guests should be planned Monday through Saturday so you can confidently execute your plan on Sunday.
2. Engage with the kids personally.
We need to engage with mom and dad. They’ll be handling the check in process and giving you important information about themselves and their kids. But don’t miss the opportunity to make the kids feel welcomed from the get-go.
Get down on their level and greet them. Learn their names. Talk with them, not at them. They may feel uneasy about the new place and new faces. Reassure them they are about to have a great time and meet some new friends.
3. Walk. Don’t point.
Sundays can be very busy for ministry leaders. It is easy to simply gesture to a family the direction they should be headed and move on to the next task. But ministry is about people and these new people need extra care and attention. Walk with them and guide them to their destination.
Not only will this give them confidence that they are in the right place but it gives you the opportunity to create and build new connections with those families. Converse with them on the journey to the classroom. Learn names, how they found the church, exchange pleasantries, keep them engaged. Walking with them is beneficial for both them and you.
BONUS TIP: Follow up after Sunday!
Now that you’ve collected contact information from them, it’s important you do something with it! Create a process for following up with guests. They need to know that you were glad they came and want them back. Making people feel seen, loved, and cared for is not a one time thing. It’s an ongoing process so follow up with them. Make a connection outside of Sunday services.
Follow these tips and you are on your way to a successful guest services ministry!
Did I miss anything? What do you do to make families feel welcomed? Leave a comment below.
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