The feeling is so special when your church gains new members. It means there is another soul to nourish, to grow with, and an additional part to your family. But sometimes, especially in larger congregations, it becomes a challenge for us to connect with them and make them feel that they belong. So what can we do as a church to make them feel valued?
The following are ideas from our Church Communications group on how to show new church members in a meaningful way that they are welcomed once they walk through your doors. I hope you could learn from this!
“We do it during our congregational meeting. We have them come up and give them a gift. The gift is always different, a book, a pie, a plant.” Bethany Lois
“We used to do a bulletin insert with a small headshot and 3 to 5 sentences about their lives, hobbies, what brought them to our church, etc. we asked the questions on their membership application, so I basically just edited them into a small paragraph and I took the photos on my phone when they officially joined with our elders. Then, during the services, if they were in that service, we had them stand up where they were and that was that… We are now going to do just a digital PDF version as our last membership class ended the week all the C 19 crazy started so those folks have been on hold for a few months. We typically also have a dinner for new members with the staff but that is also on hold at the moment…” Michelle Myers
“I’m a private person. If joining a church meant some sort of fanfare, I’d find another church. I’d suggest that there be a monthly or quarterly new member brunch or coffee where people can meet new members, but new members don’t feel forced to go.” Kelly Mason McClintock
“We used to bring them up front and have them say their “vows” and the congregation would answer them. But they really didn’t like it. So now we do a “membership celebration” after service where they say their vows with the pastor together and we take a group photo. Then we show that photo on Sunday, and the congregation does their half of the vows. Before COVID, we were about to add a quarterly event with food where all new members (and pastors and maybe group leaders) come to get to know each other. Like a mixer to connect some folks.” Alessandra Elizabeth Card
“We share their photo on our Facebook group. Ain’t nobody got time for that on Sunday morning.” Nathan Lawrenson
“We share a picture of them on our screens during our announcement section in each service. We also have some TVs where announcements are displayed. We have a “New Member” TV that has pictures of our new members on it – “Welcome to the Family.” Jackie Whary Payne
As a rule of thumb, remember that every person is different. Gather up a team in your church to come together and come up with some ways to help new members feel that they are valued and have a place to belong. Then create an action plan that you could pass to your other members to get involved in welcoming these new people.