By Rob Jackson
Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions
Serving as a pastor, I always prayed our congregation would be warm and friendly. A loving church builds up the body and often attracts new members.
We all can do our part in fostering a gracious and welcoming church. Consider these seven simple ways to cultivate an inviting and nurturing church family.
- Sit with someone you don’t know well. I get it; we all struggle to leave our “seat.” Sitting by someone you don’t know well, a guest or someone who often sits by themselves goes a long way in fostering a friendlier church environment.
- Work on memorizing names. This task is more challenging for some of us than others. It doesn’t matter how good (or bad) you are with names; God can and will help you. When someone hears you call them by name, he or she feels special.
- Greet each other. Whether you are a staff member, church leader or layperson, try to greet everyone with Christ’s love.
Romans 16:11 says, “Greet one another with a holy kiss.”
While I don’t advocate kissing each other, a friendly handshake, side hug and words of encouragement are paramount if you want a warm church.
- Include everyone. We must move beyond our “holy huddles” and allow others to join our “group.”
People are not looking for “friendly churches.” They are looking for friends. The difference between a friendly church and a church that fosters friends is in relationships.
- Write notes. I occasionally receive encouraging cards and notes in the mail. These notes make me feel like a million bucks. A text message is good, but a personal letter is 1,000 times better. Take time to write a few cards to guests and members.
- Smile and laugh with people. Being a Christian is fun. Sing. Joke. Laugh. People are attracted to congregations that have fun together.
- Plan fellowships. Invite people to eat with you. If you have guests, go out to eat after church. Regularly plan Sunday School/small group get-togethers and church-wide fellowships. You have heard it said, “A church that prays and plays together stays together.”
These seven practices help build a warmer church. The heart of all these behaviors is the love of Christ Jesus through intentional Christian relationships.