Tips For Welcoming New Families
There’s much to consider when churches welcome new families to their community. Introductions, impressions, and ways to establish good connections with families all deserve thoughtful attention.
One simple question often asked is what does it look like when families are first introduced to your church?
Personal invitation has consistently proven to be the most effective means of outreach. But other sources of exposure or introduction are also worth considering…
Where is our church physically located in the community? What connections do our members already have within various parts of our community? How much do we rely upon online interaction via our website or social media profiles?
Additionally, what impressions do families experience as they visit the church?
This could be helpful data to collect via guest forms or new member orientations, where churches seek guest responses to questions like:
What did we do well? What helped you take the next step in connecting with our church? Or, what could we have done better to help welcome you or build relationships within the church?
As we consider ways to welcome new families in our community, below are a few guiding principles and helpful practices to remember.
Keep your eyes open
Jesus told his disciples, “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest” (John 4:35 NIV).
Ministry to those already within our church consume much of our weekly tasks and responsibilities. But if our eyes and ears are only open to those inside our doors we miss crucial opportunities the Lord provides throughout the rest of our community.
Look out for new developments (schools, subdivisions, etc) in your area. Encourage church members to look out for new neighbors, especially during seasons of transition (like the beginning/end of school year). These are great opportunities to connect with families eager to build relationships in their new setting.
At the same time, believers also do well to connect with neighbors they’ve always had but never met or befriended. One of the gifts our family experienced during the pandemic was the opportunity to take afternoon walks and meet multiple families in our neighborhood we hadn’t spoken to in years prior.
By opening our eyes to those around us, we learn how to pray for, encourage, and invite people whom God has put in our path for a purpose.
And as families visit our church, whether they are new to the area completely or just new to the church, we must be diligent to care for them in ways that say “I see you. You’re welcome here. We care about you/your household.”
Maintain strong connections
As ministry leaders, we are often afforded opportunities to build relationships with a wide variety of community leaders, servants, and officials. These connections can help us stay informed about the various needs of those that God has placed in our field of ministry.
But this doesn’t happen automatically. One key ingredient in establishing and strengthening these connections is T-I-M-E!
This could look like routine visits to school offices with donuts in hand or attending local ball games and events. It could be regular partnerships or service with community kitchens and organizations.
For me personally, I’ve also sought to make myself available whenever tragedies strike a local school or organization. In those moments, our mere presence during a time of crisis can often speak louder than any words we may share.
One mentor once told me that your greatest ability in ministry is availability. And by consistently showing up and maintaining strong relationships with those who connect with and serve local families, we increase our chances of meeting new families and enjoy opportunities to show and share the Good News of Jesus.
In his letter to the church at Colossi, the Apostle Paul challenges his fellow believers,
“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:5-6 NIV).
As God opens doors for us to encounter new families, we must make the most of every opportunity we’re given.
Remember to care for the souls of the families and individuals you meet. They’re more than just names on a role or numbers on attendance charts. Take time to listen without agendas, and learn how best to love and serve those new to the area or your church.
Learning names and connecting with families that first week they visit also makes a huge impact on future opportunities we have to minister. Doing so demonstrates a genuine desire to love everyone God puts in our path.
This may require a well trained volunteer or leader to help accomplish a meaningful first impression or connection point. But doing so proves to both our leaders and those that visit our church that we don’t take these opportunities lightly.
Serve local schools
Discover ways to encourage and serve the students and staff at schools in your community. Providing backpacks and supplies for students makes a real difference in the life of a child. Asking school administrators and teachers what their greatest needs are and how your church can meet them can be equally impactful.
- Ideas: Volunteer at school events, provide meals for staff, host a clean up day to pick up trash on campus after school hours, or encourage church members to adopt a school or class to pray for throughout the school year.
Connect with campus ministries like the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and First Priority. Both of these ministries (and ones like them) are well known and respected in many schools throughout the nation. This can lead to a variety of opportunities to serve schools by joining hands with those also doing Kingdom work in your community.
Partner with local nonprofit and community organizations
Often they have a good understanding of when new families arrive and what’s needed most in your area. Organizations such as these can often provide leaders with additional opportunities to reach students and families one may not otherwise encounter each week at church.
- Ideas: attend a volunteer orientation of a few local nonprofit organizations; check-in with other ministry leaders in the city to learn how to pray for families; host a local ministry partners event at church to provide members an opportunity to learn ways to support and/or serve alongside such organizations.
Food pantries and clothes closets are often desperate for volunteers of all ages, especially during holiday seasons. While others, like Pregnancy Support Centers, might value church members that are available year round, willing to love and serve individuals and families wrestling with crises and life altering decisions.
Prioritize connection over information
Families will be more likely to engage where they feel most connected. As church members continue to invite and guests visit your church, first impressions are significant. Just as important are the opportunities a family has to connect and interact well with those in your congregation – especially kids/teens. Were they welcomed? Connected to peers / people around them?
- Ideas: New Neighbor Bag – Consider providing tools like a “New Neighbor Bag” described within our “Welcome Kit” in the M2P toolbox, so that those in your church are equipped with resources to engage new families near them.
Enlist kids and teens to serve on your greeter team. There’s perhaps no one more equipped to help a young person feel welcome than a peer who takes a genuine interest in his/her life.
For Other Helpful Articles Click Below:
- 12 Ways to Meet & Welcome a New Neighbor at a Distance – by Rocket Mortgage
- 3 Ways to Welcome New Families
Nick Mobley has served in student ministry for 20 years and currently serves as Family Pastor at Northside Baptist in middle TN. His passion is helping families show and share their faith from house to house. He and his wife Courtney have 3 children, Samuel, Sophia, & Asa. They love ice cream, the outdoors, and think that Dauphin Island, Alabama, is one of the coolest places to spend a vacation. You can reach Nick at email@example.com.
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A PRAYER GUIDE FOR YOUR FAMILIES & 2 PARENT VIDEOS.