Church works on warm welcome for newcomers

The Church of England is encouraging churches to set up welcome teams in the hope of encouraging people stopping by for special events or their first Sunday service to come back again and again.

The suggestion comes from church growth consultants the Ven Bob Jackson and George Fisher, both from the Diocese of Lichfield, in their new training resource Everybody Welcome.

The resource makes reference to recent research by Tearfund, which found that 85 per cent of people visit some kind of church every year and that up to three million people in the UK would go to church if someone invited them back.

In Everybody Welcome, Mr Jackson and Mr Fisher urge churches to make the most of special community events and key annual services to reach new people and appoint door welcomers to greet people at the church entrance.

“We each have an essential part to play in the worship offered. The aim: to give glory to God by enabling everyone to be active and fully involved team members, not passive spectators,” they write.

“Visitors and newcomers are an important part of that community. But the things that are normal and relaxing to us may be strange and fearful to them.

“So how can we take care to usher in the newcomer to God’s presence while not diluting the regulars’ worship-encounter with the living Lord?”

Reflecting on his motivation for creating the course, Mr Jackson said: “In my experience in the West Midlands, many people have tried out their church again through initiatives like ‘Back to Church Sunday’, and huge crowds are turning up at Christmas. God is sending us more people, especially young ones.

“Just think what the impact would be if not 10 per cent but 25 per cent or even 50 per cent of the people who try out our churches succeed in becoming regular congregation members.

“It is even more vital than before that we in the churches know how to welcome and integrate newcomers into the church community. I hope and pray that this course will help churches become truly welcoming communities.”

Everybody Welcome is available from Christian bookshops, priced £14.99 for the leader’s manual, £3.99 for the members’ manual, and £24.99 for the DVD.

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