Welcoming Well

by Tracy Maness

As Crossings Community Church transitions into its new space over the next few months, its ability to provide a warm, welcoming environment where visitors want to come back will become even more important.

Some people may think greeting guests and being friendly is the job of the welcome team, but it is really the whole church’s responsibility.

Sure, greeters hold the doors open and welcome people with a smile, but all members should be aware of visitors and look for opportunities to say hello to them, even beyond the usual meet and greet time a few minutes into the service. This helps them feel like they are wanted and welcomed.

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. ­­(1 Corinthians 12:12)

“The church, when functioning properly, needs every part of the body to contribute,” said Crossings Elder, Joel Skaggs. “All the members are one body. If only a few of our people were friendly and outwardly focused to minister to new people, we wouldn’t be true to the call God has for His Church.”

According to Skaggs, most guests decide whether they will come back to a church within 10 minutes of first walking in the door. Those early interactions play a pivotal role in getting them to engage on a deeper level.

“In the big picture, creating a good first impression is really just an initial step in the discipleship process that our church values so much,” Skaggs said. “On a practical level, people will be more inclined to return to a place where they feel welcomed and valued.”

Skaggs offered three main actions church members can easily take to create a more inviting environment.

First, when you see someone you don’t recognize, make a point to smile and introduce yourself. If you need to, politely excuse yourself from a conversation, or better yet, invite that new person or family into it.

Second, ask them questions like, “How did you find our church?” or “What area of town do you live in?” Be sure to listen well to their answers, and don’t be afraid to share about how you found Crossings and other details that might help you form a better connection. Then, ask them if they have any questions for you. It’s always helpful to introduce them to one of the elders too if one’s available or to other members that you know.

Third, invite them to your small group. Don’t depend on someone else to make that ask – own it yourself. If they live in a different area than you, you could always introduce them to the small group leaders that are in their part of town. Just plant the seed for their getting involved in a small group. At Crossings, building community through small groups are critical, so invite them. They might just show up, and then you can get to know them even better.

As Crossing prepares to move to its new property, Skaggs hopes to expand the welcome team so that each Sunday morning more team members are there to welcome everybody and also have the time to focus on those folks that are new.

While he encourages people to serve on the welcome team because “they have a desire to see people start a path towards a closer walk with Jesus” just like they would with any other ministry in the church, he really wants them to be meeting people in their lives where they’re at and to be intentional in those interactions.

“Even more than joining the welcome team, I hope our people will engage their neighborhoods and community organizations they are involved in,” Skaggs said. “I hope they would be purposeful about building relationships with the people they are coming into contact with in the normal course of their lives.”

Building those meaningful relationships and bonds with people should become engrained in the daily life of a Christian and a Crossings Community Church member.

“It can’t be a box checked on Sunday morning. Hopefully, it’s motivated by the mission of our church: ‘to engage, equip and empower homes for gospel transformation'.”

 Tracy has been married to her husband Alan for 12 years. They have two dogs. They have been members at Crossings for a year.  Tracy is writer for the Houston Chronicle. 

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