Growing up I moved around a lot and I hated being the new kid. There was always that fear of rejection that could be paralyzing. Chances are there are teens walking into your ministry for the first time with the same fears. If not addressed it could be the reason they won’t return.
Creating a hospitable environment is key to eliminating that fear. It’s an aspect of your ministry that cannot be overlooked. To create an environment that communicates, “You are in the right place.” you need to:
STAND AT THE DOOR
The first question someone new is going to wonder is, “Am I in the right place?” A greeter at the door answers that question with an affirming YES.
CONNECT THEM WITH A GUIDE
Don’t assume everyone knows what to do or how to behave. Find teens and adults who can act as a guide to answer any questions. Give them a warm and welcoming face to help them debunk any of their fears.
GIVE YOUR TEAM TAGS
You might not be able to identify everyone who is new; therefore, you might need to give them a clear sign of who they can help them. Name tags and ministry t-shirts can help them identify the right people to go to when they have a question.
Don’t pretend everyone should know who you are. Before an opening prayer or delivering a message take a moment to welcome others and introduce yourself.
CAPTURE THEIR CONTACT INFO
Even if your ministry has an open door policy make sure you are figuring out a way to stay in touch. If you can capture their info you can later send them a note or give them a call to say, “Thanks for coming, hope to see you next time.”
CONNECT WITH THEIR PARENTS
Create a stronger bond by connecting with the parents. You can do that by either collecting a teen’s info or going out to the car during pick-up. If parents build a relationship with they’ll trust you more and encourage their teen to come back each week.
KEEP OUTSIDERS IN MIND
There are a lot of traditions that our ministry can create that can feel exclusive. Before planning a certain activity make sure you are answering the question, “How will someone new view this?” No matter what you plan to do make sure it’s clear how they can participate.
CREATE A CULTURE
Make sure the teens and adults are aware that your ministry is meant to grow. Train your leaders to keep an eye out for someone walking in for the first time. Talk to your teens about meeting someone new.
The more you can build up a culture of hospitality the more likely people will return for a second and third time. Make sure people know they are in the right place. Greet them, accept them and your ministry will grow.
What other tips would you add to create a more welcoming environment?