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Seven Things Church Members Should Say to Guests

One of the most important aspects of churches growing is what happens on a Sunday morning. A lot of first impressions are the small things: a friendly greeting when people get out of their car; help finding doors; ushers who are cheerful and helpful; greeters who are truly glad to meet you. But another, critical aspect of churches that are growing is how members visit with guests. There are things you shouldn’t say, such as “You’re sitting in my seat.” But I want to suggest seven things a church member should say to a guest in the worship service.

  1. “Thank you for being here.” It’s just that basic. I have heard from numerous church guests who returned because they were simply told “thank you.”
  2. “Let me help you with that.” If you see someone struggling with umbrellas, young children, diaper bags, purses, and other items, a gesture to hold something for them is a huge positive. Of course, this comment is appropriate for member-to-member as well.
  3. “Please take my seat.” A young couple noticed that a young family of five was trying to find a place to sit together. Recognizing that they could move and fine another spot, they invited the family to take their seat. Imagine the impact of such a kind gesture.
  4. “Here is my address. Please let me know if I can help in any way.” Of course, this comment must be used with discretion, but it can be a hugely positive message to a guest, especially in an area where people are constantly moving in and out.
  5. “Can I show you where you need to go?” Even in smaller churches, guests will not know where to find the nursery, restrooms, and small group meeting areas. You can usually tell when a guest does not know where he or she is to go.
  6. “Let me introduce you to _________.” The return rate of guests is always higher if they meet other people. A church member may have the opportunity to introduce the guest to the pastor, other church staff, people with whom they may have an affinity (“So-and-so also works at…”), and other members of the church.
  7. “Would you join us for lunch?” This is saved for last for a good reason: First, the situation must be obviously appropriate before you offer such an invitation; and second, this approach has the highest return rate of any one factor. What if church members sought to invite different guests 6 to 12 times a year? The burden would not be great, and the impact would be huge.

Let’s look at one example of breaking attendance barriers by saying the right things to guests. Presume your church has two first-time guests a week. Over the course of a year, the church would have 100 first-time guests. With most of the members being genuinely guest friendly, you could see half of those guests become active members. Attendance could thus increase by as much as 50 persons every year. That marks a growing church!

[Modified from Breaking Barriers by Bill Easum, The Effective Church]

Some people don’t like the concept of “church growth,” because they believe it has to do with compromising faith and practice in order to bring people into the church. While some congregations may do this, I am sharing common-sense, basic Christian practices that (a) make sense, and (b) are just the “right thing” to do, anyway. Being a good host to a guest is an act of hospitality, which is both an expectation of God for his people and one of the spiritual gifts listed by St. Paul, given by God “for the common good” of the church.