One of the challenges my congregation has faced in the past few years is providing a consistent welcome to visiting families over the summer months. Our regular children’s ministry programming winds down with the end of the school year. Although we offer a summer Sunday school class, we have missed several opportunities to greet children and their families who came to “try out a new church” in the summer.
We have identified this weakness in our ministry and are taking some steps to do better at welcoming and greeting Sunday morning visitors at our church. The first change has been to make sure that a welcome is printed every week in our bulletin. The welcome includes the name and email for the children’s ministry director as well as a few notes about our summer Sunday school class and other children’s ministry opportunities. In addition to a note in the bulletin, we have created a little welcome card for children to receive from the ushers when they come into worship. The card says hello and that we are glad they are here. We offer kids a Spark Family magazine when they come to worship year-round. It is filled with wonderful activities and illustrations that give visiting children a glimpse of the Spark Story Bible and our Spark Sunday school curriculum.
We are also implementing an online sign-up form to have members of the church plan to be the people to seek out and greet visitors on certain Sundays throughout the summer. It is normal for church staff to take some vacation time in the summer months. As part of my job in children’s ministry, I look for new faces every week in worship. I realized that when I am out of town, I had not made plans for someone else to look for and greet new families after worship, which has led us to miss opportunities to extend a personal welcome on several occasions.
During the height of the pandemic, we spent a lot of time keeping social distance with people and protecting one another from illness. I will always appreciate the care we took as a congregation to be a place of safety and caution for everyone who came to worship. Now, I am looking forward to renewing our care for personally welcoming new people into our midst with a handshake, a word of welcome, and a moment of conversation. It would be wonderful for visitors to feel like they made new friends after visiting a potential church home.