As your church prepares for a likely influx of visitors during the Christmas season, now is a great time to refresh everyone on ways to welcome new faces. Here are a few ideas to help your church create a welcoming environment during this busy season.
1. Touch Base with Ushers & Greeters
Ushers and greeters are often the first people visitors meet when entering a church. Your volunteers have a great opportunity to put forward a positive first impression of the congregation. Here are a few special tasks you can do before Christmas to make sure everyone’s prepared:
- Make sure everyone knows what to do if the sanctuary fills up too quickly. Do you put chairs in the back or direct people to the balcony? How (and when) do you politely ask people to move to the middle of the pews to make more room? What happens when you run out of bulletins? Addressing questions like these in a quick email or meeting beforehand will make sure everyone has a calm and pleasant experience.
- Put together a list of common questions visitors may ask and prepare responses ahead of time. If people usually ask where the bathrooms or nursery are located, consider printing off a map for ushers and greeters to hand out with the bulletins. If there are questions about your Communion practices, make sure to add this information to the bulletin and have everyone prepared to answer the question verbally. Each church probably receives different questions around Christmas, so rely on your veteran ushers and greeters to share their experiences.
- Offer special training for new ushers and greeters. It’s especially important to reach out to new ushers or greeters who may not have served at this time last year. Consider pairing new volunteers with veterans who can call them a few days ahead of time to check in. You can also share a copy of your church’s usher and greeter handbook with new volunteers or give them a purchased one (such as this one). Be sure everyone knows what time to arrive and if they will have any extra duties beyond their normal work.
2. Perform a Walk-Through of the Church Facility
It never hurts to check which areas might need tidying up or what pathways may be unclear. Make sure there are plenty of supplies in the bathrooms and nursery. Check that you have extra activity bags and children’s activity bulletins prepared.
Signage can also be important for visitors. Make sure the exterior doors are clearly marked with which entrance(s) should be used for worship. Consider adding extra signage pointing people to the bathrooms, nursery, or coat area. Maybe even schedule a couple of extra volunteers to serve as building guides before the services.
3. Set a Plan for Following Up with Visitors
It’s important that you have a way to record visitors’ contact information. Be sure to have plenty of fellowship pads or visitor cards ready. If your church prepares visitor bags, consider adding a few extra items during this season. You could include helpful flyers with information on events, reaching the pastor, and the church’s website and social media channels.
Though Christmas services can be busy for church workers and volunteers, they are a wonderful time to welcome visitors. I hope these ideas assist you with your church’s pre-Christmas routine!
If your church does not have a handbook for ushers and greeters, or if you would like to supplement one your church already has, take a look at CPH’s Welcome to Our Church: A Handbook for Greeters and Ushers.