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Sunday is Coming

Welcome

 

     The biggest Sunday of the year is here and hopefully you have prepared and are ready for the largest attended day of the year. It has been referred to as the Super Bowl of the church where many will attend who will not usually come. It is a great day to celebrate the risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The question you need to be able to answer is, “What will you do if everyone you invited shows up?”

Do not underestimate the importance of having a plan for every ministry from the parking lot to the nursery and overflow, if needed. Then you must also have a plan in place to follow up on those who do visit. Consider how you can show your guests how thankful you are they came and how much you appreciate their presence. People will come where they are invited but they will stay where they are loved.

Here are some ideas for Easter Sunday:

First, be careful what you say! Some make the mistake of offending the ones who show up by actually calling them names like, “Welcome to you CEOs!” (Those who attend Christmas and Easter only) One pastor shared with me that as he was inviting a lady for Easter services said she would love to come but did not want to be referred to as a “Chreaster” (Christmas/Easter). He knew he had done that before but made an inward commitment to never do that again. Sarcasm is not appropriate for your guests!

Second, give them a gift for attending! Let them know you appreciate their efforts and want to give them something for their spiritual journey. There are some excellent resources such as The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel, Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell, and The God Questions by Hal Seed (Gift Edition). You can get The God Questions gift edition from Outreach for $2.00 each. That is a small investment in the journey they are on in the search for the truth.

Third, have greeters in the parking lot! You never get another chance at a first impression. Many people decide whether they want to come back to a church in the first 3-7 minutes. Having someone in the parking lot to welcome and direct them to where they need to go makes an excellent first impression. You are saying to your guests, “We were expecting you and we are so glad you came!” A friendly face and a big smile help those who are already nervous to relax and know they are welcome!

Fourth, make sure you have good signage! When people arrive the two most important locations they need to know about immediately are the bathrooms and where to take their children. Simple signs can be made on the computer and displayed easily to help people find what they are looking for. Always try to look at your church plant through the eyes of a guest. Have greeters ready to make your guests aware of where to go and to take them there if necessary. Think of greeters as tour directors.

Fifth, be ready to help seat people! Train your people to be prepared to make room for your guests. They may not want to scoot into the middle but they can step out and allow guests to the seats that are available. Your greeters can lead them in and then your guests will not feel like they are making the journey into the unknown alone. You could also save some seats for your guests. You roll out the red carpet for guests at your home and we should do even more for those who decide to come to our services.

Sixth, have a packet ready for everyone! This could include a bulletin, connection card, sermon note card, and a pen with the name of the church on it. This enables everyone to know the important announcements, take notes while the sermon is being delivered, and to fill out a connection card for follow-up. The connection cards can be used by everyone and handed in during the offering. They enable people to make their prayer requests known and to give important information that you as a church need to know.

Seventh, make good use of the connection cards. Have these handed out to everyone when they enter the worship area. This makes it much more convenient and easier for everyone to fill them out with the pen provided. When you welcome your guests assure them you will not be hounding them nor giving out their information but that you would love to connect with them at whatever level they are comfortable with. You are hoping that they will attend again and you want to help them any way that you as a church can.

Eighth, follow up on the connection cards! Make an initial contact within the first 48 hours. Send them a letter and send them an email. Then have someone call them that week and thank them for attending. Pastor, on Wednesday send them a hand-written note thanking them for attending and that you look forward to seeing them again. If they turned in a card then they are expecting you to connect with them. If God trusts us enough to send them our way then we must embrace our responsibility to connect with them!

Ninth, make sure your building is ready for guests! This probably should have been sooner but have everything cleaned up bright and shiny. We all clean and tidy up our homes when we know guests are coming. Well, guests are coming this Easter! Take a look at your church plant through their eyes and make sure everything is extra clean. Get rid of the clutter, make sure everything smells wonderful, and that people are glad to be in such an inviting and welcoming environment.

     Healthy churches are friendly churches and treat their guests well!