Fish Out of Water (Visitor Ministry)

Posted on February 11, 2012


Is your church visitor and lonely person friendly?

Just because most of the members at a church are friendly to each other does not mean that the church is visitor and lonely person friendly.  The time has come for us to stop catering to self only and develop strategic plans to become friend-making churches.  Becoming a friend-making church does not happen all by itself.

  1. Church leaders must prayerfully determine why their church exists… Is your church all about seeking and saving the lost?  Our churches need to be visitor-friendly, family-focused, spiritually-balanced, and mission-driven.
  2. Church leaders need to look at their church through the eyes of a visitor.  They need to physically walk out to the street in front of their church and ask themselves, “If I was a visitor, what would I need to see to know I am welcome here?”  Some healthy, growing churches have parking lot “ministers” in place every weekend to welcome church members and visitors to church.  The main goal is to identify the visitors, give them a warm welcome, and give them directions (this is great for men and young men to do).
  3. When the visitors enter the church they should receive more than a verbal welcome, handshake, and bulletin.  Greeters need to intentionally connect to the visitors… knowing that they are like ducks out of water.  The visitors do not know anyone and need to experience a real connection ASAP.  Greeters should show the visitors where the restrooms are and escort them to the church’s welcome booth. NOTE: The classrooms and restrooms should be labeled and easy to find.
  4. A welcome booth is a great place to get visitors contact info (name, phone, address, and e-mail).  The welcome booth “ministers” can then give the visitors a welcome gift (small folder with church info, welcome DVD/CD, small gift).  From there a welcome booth minister can escort the visitor(s) to a Sabbath School class and introduce them to the class teacher.  If the visitors arrive at church service time, the welcome booth minister can escort them into the sanctuary and introduce them to a section leader.
  5. Having sanctuary section leaders in place is a great way to make the visitors feel welcome.  The section leader can clue the visitors in on what takes place during the service and make sure they are invited to the afternoon fellowship meal.
  6. All of the church members should be trained for “visitor ministry.”  Everyone should be greeting each other before and after the service… but it should not stop there.  Young men should be approaching visitors who are young men, trying to connect at a friendship level (swap phone numbers and e-mail addresses and extend invitations to Bible study groups and other friendship building events).  This goes for every age group and gender… young women should approach visitors who are young women… older men and women should approach visitors who are older men and women… and kids should be approaching visitors who are kids.

Go has commanded us to go into the entire world as heavenly ambassadors.  If we are going to achieve victory in this mission, we must first begin in our home churches.

Something to think about:

And walking along beside the sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.  And Jesus said to them, Come after Me and I will make you fishers of men.  And immediately they left their nets and followed Him.  (Mark 1:16-18)

God calls ALL OF US to become fishers of men.  If we are going to invest time fishing for men and women in the workplace and community, we need to make sure we have a healthy aquarium to bring them into.  If the aquarium (the local church) is toxic and sick, the new fish will jump out as quickly as they arrived.

All of our churches need to be Visitor-friendly, Family-focused, Spiritually-balanced, and Mission-driven.

Let’s stop playing church and start being the church God has called us to be!

Here is a great story of a pastor who visited a bunch of churches as a visitor [READ HERE]