On Tuesday, I shared a little bit of what I look for in a church that calls itself “welcoming.” Today, I want to share some of what I have seen at churches that are successfully creating a welcoming culture. Looking at the churches that do this well, there is a great deal of diversity in worship style, demographics, and affiliations.
What makes these churches effective is having an intentionally developed sense of empowerment and expectation.
Several years ago, I was involved in a conversation where a local church was considering spending a significant amount of money on television commercials. As the conversation went on, the question was asked about the prudence of making that kind of investment in advertising when members of the congregation were reluctant to invite their friends and neighbors to the church. The church ultimately decided to move forward with the purchase and little changed.
While welcoming churches may have television commercials, they are not relying on them to increase the amount of visitors that take part in their services each week. Instead, these churches have an expectation that visitors will be in the service and that lives will be changed through the ministry of the church. These churches have also developed a sense of empowerment that allows them to do what is necessary to invite, and care for, visitors to the church.
So, how does a church create a sense of empowerment and expectation? Modeling and story:
A church’s congregation is a fairly decent reflection of what is being modeled by its leadership.
If your leadership is actively involved in evangelistic relationships, regularly bringing new people to church, and consistently working to remove the awkwardness of being a visitor, the congregation will pick up on that. Decide what you want to be and intentionally model the behaviors that will develop that culture.
People will repeat what is celebrated.
Telling the stories of lives that have been changed and the significance of relationships in that process reinforces the need to be a welcoming church. The churches that frequently share stories of life transformation through community are often the churches that people feel the most comfortable attending. Tell the stories that are happening in your church, and celebrate those that make those stories possible.
How has YOUR church developed a welcoming culture (or not)?