10 Conversation Starters to Make Church Guests Feel Welcome

10 Conversation Starters to Make Church Guests Feel Welcome

I have been a part of five churches over the past seventeen years. I know what it is like to feel nervous about entering a new church. In fact, making guests feel welcome is a key component of any healthy and growing church. As an introvert, however, it can be tough for me to be boldly approach a stranger and strike up a conversation. In order for me to display hospitality and make guests feel welcome, I have to brainstorm conversation starters so I don’t have to fill any awkward silence. This way I feel prepared and confident when I approach someone I don’t know.  Here are ten conversation starters that I have used: 

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  • 1. Tell me about yourself.

    1. Tell me about yourself.

    In this selfie-driven world in which we live, people love to talk about themselves. Asking a visitors to tell you a few facts about themselves will loosen them up and help them feel seen. Even if they don’t return the following week, I’ve met a new friend and perhaps found some commonalities between us. 

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  • 2. What brings you to our church today?

    2. What brings you to our church today?

    The biggest question new guests ask themselves when they try a new church is, “What’s in it for me?” Churches must anticipate this and answer that question in the form of sermon series with catchy titles, intriguing new programs or interactive kids ministries. If a church has not asked this question, chances are they won’t know how to answer it, making the odds of new visitors coming (or staying) lower every month. 

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  • 3. How can we best serve you?

    3. How can we best serve you?

    Church should always be about service, whether it is existing members serving each other or existing members helping new members become acclimated to a new church environment. If guests understand that from the beginning, they will be more apt to stay because they will understand that service is a fundamental value of the church.  Guests will also feel if their basic needs are being met, they will in turn want to serve other members as well. 

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  • 4. How did you hear about our church?

    4. How did you hear about our church?

    This is not only a great conversation starter, but also a great way to figure out how word about your church is best spread. This way you can target any advertising efforts to the areas that are reaching the largest amount of new visitors. 

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  • 5. Are you new to the area?

    5. Are you new to the area?

    My church is located in a small town. Since I’m not native to that area, I found my fist year attending isolating because everyone had come from that small town and grew up together or understood the church’s culture. Understanding the isolation factor for new visitors, I ask this question so I can let he/she know that I am also not from the area. This instantly builds trust and a bond can form between us. A follow-up question could be “where are you from?” so it gives them a chance to talk about their hometown. It helps me learn about new areas and the visitor opens up and becomes less guarded.

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  • 6. What do you like to do for fun?

    6. What do you like to do for fun?

    This is a question that is not only fun, but allows you to get to know your guest in an intimate way. For example, I am a huge board game player. Finding out that a family that had just begun attending our church is a big board game family too, I had found a commonality between us, but also made a friend (and board game partners) in the process. 

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  • 7. Do you need help finding where our ministries are held?

    7. Do you need help finding where our ministries are held?

    The most awkward moment for new visitors occurs when they set foot through the front door. If signs are not readily available when new visitors first enter, the anxiety of trying a new church is only heightened, making it easier for new members to sneak out as quickly as they entered. However, if you approach them and assuage their fears about figuring out where the sanctuary is or where the children’s ministry room is, the more likely they are to say and the more confident they will feel about staying not only for the service but also for the weeks to come. 

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  • 8. Do you know someone who attends our church?

    8. Do you know someone who attends our church?

    Church guests often try a new church at the request of a friend or existing church member. If the church is large in number, it may be difficult to know who knows whom within the congregation. Asking new guests this question will help them feel more comfortable in knowing they have an ally within the church, but also will help you get to know other members of the church. 

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  • 9. Have you filled out our connection card?

    9. Have you filled out our connection card?

    Most churches have some sort of form or way of tracking new attendees. The form might list basic questions regarding their name, address and phone number, as well as ask probing questions like ministries they may be interested in or ways they feel they can serve the body. By filling out the card, the church has a record of their attendance, it can help keep track of new members from week to week (this is a real help for someone like me who is terrible with remembering names) and will give some basic insight into the guests’ areas of interests as well as their gifts. It will also help the new guests envision themselves here by connecting them in a ministry. If guests are hesitant to disclose their information the first week, that is ok!  When they leave, use the form to jot down some basic info about them so at the very least you can record their attendance and remember some details about your conversation if they return in the future.

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  • 10. Would you like to come over for dinner?

    10. Would you like to come over for dinner?

    This question is best to save for last after you have asked some basic introductory questions. What better way to demonstrate the gift of hospitality then inviting visitors over your home to get to know them better? This will take some foresight ahead of time in the form of housework and meal preparation, but the rewards you reap from extending a warm invitation into your home will be felt long after the guests leave the church. A church that goes the extra mile in terms of making guests feel welcome will inadvertently see a spike in attendance and gain a reputation within the community as a church who loves people. 

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    Michelle S. Lazurek is an award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife and mother. Winner of the Golden Scroll Children's Book of the Year and the Enduring Light Silver Medal, she is a member of the Christian Author's Network and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. Her first book with Leafwood Publishers, An Invitation to the Table, came out September 2016. She also teaches at various writers' workshops, such as the Montrose Christian Writers conference. She and her husband live in Coudersport, Pennsylvania, with their two children, Caleb and Leah. For more information, please visit her website at michellelazurek.com.