I hate to admit I was surprised when I got her email.
After 3 Sundays of visiting “under the radar”, we had completed and submitted the all-important visitor form.
We checked the boxes of several ministries we were interested in knowing more about.
Youth ministry. Check.
Men’s ministry. Check.
Women’s ministry. Check.
We’ve jumped through these hoops at other churches, often receiving little or no-follow up from ministry leaders. To be honest, we’ve learned to keep our expectations low.
Thank God this church was different.
In her warm, welcoming email she:
- Let me know where I could find women’s ministry news and info.
- Asked if I’d like to be included in the online women’s ministry communication.
- Noted that she was aware I had already signed up for the next Bible study session.
- Gracefully wove in the mission/purpose of their women’s ministry.
- Included details and an invitation to the next women’s ministry event.
- Invited me to contact her with any questions I had.
I felt welcomed!
We know from past experiences, as a member and a guest, that it’s not always easy to be a welcoming church.
Please note: Affiliate links follow.
When the opportunity arose for me to review Thom S. Rainer’s newest book, Becoming a Welcoming Church, I jumped on it!
It’s a quick read, a smaller book with just 100 pages, which shines a bright light on real-life experiences of church guests (the good and the bad) and the blind-bias of church members and leaders.
As Mr. Rainer succinctly states, “Many church leaders and members think their churches are healthier than they really are. Many leaders and members think their churches have better ministries than they really do. And many leaders think their churches are friendlier than they really are.”
Here’s a short sampling of some of the things we’ve personally encountered:
- I’ve been locked out of the sanctuary during a Sunday morning service.
- Begged repeatedly for weeks on end to be added to the elusive Pastor’s weekly email list.
- Were ejected from our seats at the Christmas service because we had mistakenly sat in the section for pregnant mothers and senior adults.
I could go on, but I won’t.
“Churches perceive they are a friendly church because the members are friendly to one another. But they don’t think about walking in the shoes of first-time guests.”
Whether folks are guests at your Sunday morning worship service, Bible study, or women’s ministry event, we can all play a part in making certain everyone who walks through those doors has the best experience possible.
Just as the women’s ministry director did at our most recent church home, we can ensure everyone (and especially women) receives a warm welcome.
Almost all of the advice and principles in Becoming a Welcoming Church can be applied to women’s ministry and I want to highlight a few – with my own additions – below.
12 Ways Women’s Ministry Teams Can Warmly Welcome Guests
1. Refuse to participate in holy huddles.
2. When caught up in a holy huddle (it happens), remove oneself to welcome unfamiliar faces.
3. Sit with and near guests, rather than claiming the same seat or pew week after week.
4. Visit with your visitors before service ever begins.
5. Be quick to supply information when it is requested.
6. When a new attendee volunteers, accept their offer and put them to work!
7. Send a welcome email or note to every woman who visits. Invite them to jump into the current Bible study series and give them details about the next couple of upcoming events.
8. Listen and ask questions. Sometimes we smother guests with talk about ourselves or the church. Get to know your guests. Identify their needs.
9. Don’t dismiss those who aren’t new in town. They may not be as connected as you may assume.
10. Issue multiple invitations. Don’t dismiss them if they don’t show at your very next event. Reach out and invite them to the next thing on the calendar. You may need to be persistent, especially if they’ve been wounded at their last church.
11. Create and implement a plan for ensuring new faces are greeted warmly and introduced to others at every single women’s ministry event – one on one, not a whole group introduction.
12. Read Becoming a Welcoming Church together and perform the complete a women’s ministry audit by adapting the Church Facility Audit at the end of the book.
Most guests are only going to give you one opportunity to welcome them well.
We’ve got to be prepared and ready to roll out the red carpet, so-to-speak, when they show up.
If we’re always expecting guests, we’ll always be prepared!
If you’re looking for a great read for your women’s ministry team, consider Becoming a Welcoming Church.
I’m praying God will open your team’s eyes to see things from a different perspective and that you’ll take action to make any needed changes so that every person feels welcome.
Disclosure: I received a copy of Becoming a Welcoming Church in exchange for my honest review.
One year ago: 8 Tips for Designing Your Ministry’s Logo
Two years ago: Book Review: None Like Him
Three years ago: 30 Summer Fellowship Ideas
Four years ago: 6 Ways to Pray for Your Team
Five years ago: How to Select Your Verse & Women’s Ministry Theme for the Year