Intersection of Life and Faith

10 Ways to Make Christmas Visitors Feel Welcome at Church

  • Meg Bucher Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • 2018 22 Dec
10 Ways to Make Christmas Visitors Feel Welcome at Church

The holiday season lends Christians the opportunity to extend the love of Christ more than the usual weekend experience. ‘Christ’ resides in ‘Christ’mas, in more ways than one. By knowing how Christ intended to draw hearts to freedom through salvation, we can be better equipped to offer an authentic experience to those that are visiting our church, or experiencing church for the first time.

Whether visitors are here visiting the “other” side of their extended family, or just stumbling in fresh off the moving truck to a new hometown, it’s important for all to feel included. They should be able to walk into any church and feel like family, whether it’s their first time or thousandth time in church.

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  • 1. Family First

    1. Family First

    It’s hard to feel welcoming when we are running from God. Are we sitting in church because we stubbornly didn’t feel like traveling across towns or states to be with loved ones? Sometimes, our avoidance to be where God is calling us seeps out into disdain for those who have. It’s easy to get stuck in a routine and be tricked into thinking that we “can’t” leave for the holidays. 

    God has gifted us with families for a reason. It’s good to be with them when celebrating the family that has been gifted to us. WE are sons and daughters in Christ, when Jesus has the captivated attention of our hearts. No matter what church we’re attending on Christmas, we should at least make valiant efforts to connect with those to whom God has connected us. When we do, we’ll be better equipped to greet the people we don’t recognize when they walk through our sanctuary doors. 

     

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  • 1. Family First

    2. Church Cliques

    Church families appear to be more connected than blood relations. We want to celebrate with our church friends, and talk about next weekend’s plans. There are pictures to be taken, and carols to be sung arm-in-arm. It’s important to embrace those who are disconnected in that family, especially at Christmastime. 

    Being new or unfamiliar can make visitors feel left out. That’s definitely not the impression we want to make as a body of Christ. Aim, as a small group or a family unit, to look for new people to greet this Christmas. Great each other, and then greet someone new. Include them in the love we’ve been blessedly surrounded by. 

     

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  • 1. Family First

    3. The Decorations

    When the wise men followed the star all of the way to worship Jesus and give Him gifts, they were led by a burning desire of what they knew. They were led by the light. Jesus is the light of the world. We celebrate Christmas to honor His coming to earth, born as a baby to a virgin in fulfillment of ancient prophesy. Maybe there’s a part of commercial hoopla that we can repurpose to make newcomers of Jesus’ story feel engaged in the scene. 

    Christmas lights may not be Biblical, but they sure are welcoming. The soft glow of twinkling lights signals something special about this time of the year, about this celebration. There’s nothing in Scripture that tells us we have to decorate our church a certain way, but if a welcoming appearance allows new feet to trod into His presence, it can’t be all bad. 

     

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  • 1. Family First

    4. Candlelight Caroling

    Singing carols by candlelight allows the freedom to worship in a setting where one can literally only see the lights of battery-operated candlesticks. Instead of scanning the room to see how everyone else is worshipping or what holiday attire everyone is donning, we’re brought into focus with the One we’re celebrating. 

    Freshly married and searching for solid ground to build a life on, my husband and I joined a Christmas Eve service that ended in a candle-lit singing of “Silent Night.” We became part of that congregation and remained for years after, sparked by that simple tradition. It doesn’t have to be candles and it doesn’t have to be “Silent Night,” but there should be prayerful thought put into the our heartfelt worship of the night Christ was born; for that night, humanity’s redemption began. 

     

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  • 1. Family First

    5. Gifting Generosity

    There is a fear among first-time church visitors that they are going to be hounded to contribute to the basket as it’s passed from row to row. Others seek a way to contribute, but aren’t sure how. Even in churches that don’t pass a collection basket, it’s important to communicate to guests how to give. It’s not in what is given, but in what Christ gives us that compels us to give. 

    Christmas is centered around Emmanuel, “God with us.” We can give because He has given to us. Welcome visitors to contribute to a Christmas collection, but tell them why. Take a moment to run a clip of the causes that their contributions will trickle down to support. A brief testimony of how the generosity of Jesus has led to supported ministries is a great way to quickly illuminate the giving mission. Although the topic of money can be uncomfortable, those who have never been to church need to know how it works.

     

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  • 1. Family First

    6. Comfort in a Cup

    The Christmas season can leave us landing in our seat at the Christmas Eve service out of breath, resources, and patience. Parents wrestling with sugar-hyped and Santa-ready kiddos are worried about how disruptive their very presence is to all those around them. On the other end of the spectrum, Christmas can push fresh grief to the surface, making it impossible to break through and experience the joy of the holiday. 

    A warm cup of coffee, cocoa, or tea extends a welcome that lingers a little longer than a handshake and a smile. God knows something about the comfort of being warmed up from the inside out. Being able to carry it into service? It makes them feel included and embraced for who they are. Make sure to provide lids, so parents with the squirming and disruptive children don’t have to wear their welcome. 

     

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  • 1. Family First

    7. Forced Interaction

    Families are always looking for photo ops around the holidays. Seniors may be lonely and in need of a friend. Others need help battling addictions. Some are healing from divorce. Church families have an opportunity to reach out in multiple directions each Christmas. Let the way they can find help and love be visible and audible. 

    People come in search of Christ for many reasons, and God doesn’t drop them on our doorstep by accident. Some congregations are great at putting on a meal and having fresh baked goods to share conversation over before and after the service. Sometimes, a nice scene to stand by and have someone take a family picture lends roots to a welcoming feeling. Easy ways to check in via smartphone or donate via app helps those connected to their technology … connect! Visuals with ways to get help if needed, and testimonies of how members have connected can all help seasonal and first time visitors feel welcome. 

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/digitalskillet

  • 1. Family First

    8. Let God's Word Do the Talking

    Christmastime is traditionally when many visit churches for the first time in a long time, or ever. Sometimes, we can be so excited to see people show up that we’ve been asking to come to church, that we can spiritually throw up all over them and scare them back away for another very long time. Once we’ve greeted our guests, it’s important to turn the conversation over to God. 

    Hearing the story of Jesus’ birth shared, and singing carols to celebrate the freedom it sparked for all mankind, does not need a sugarcoating of anything we have to say. There was a time in every life, whether raised in church or not, we listened to the story for the first time. It didn’t matter who brought us or why we walked in, God took it from there. He will take them from there. 

     

    Photo credit: Pexels 

  • 1. Family First

    9. Christmas Carols, Unplugged

    Many of the Christmas carols that we sing at church are taken right from or inspired by Scripture, and many tell the story of Christ’s birth. Through song, Scripture weaves in and out of our lives, remaining in the melody that we hum on the way home. When we speak, pray, or sing Scripture over our lives and in worship to God, it will move in and shift our hearts. Christmas Carols are so familiar to us that we can have a tendency to forget the gravity of the words we traditionally sing out during Christmas service. 

    When visiting a church at Christmas, there are a handful of carols that everyone, Christian or not, is familiar with. A mix of traditional songs and current versions will allow visitors to engage in the service. Whether it’s Christmas Nativity plays and children singing, contemporary worship teams or full-scale choirs, the easier it is for the congregation to participate, the more welcome visitors will feel.

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/DigitalVision.

  • 1. Family First

    10. Don't Forget the Kids

    In many churches, the kids ministry is completely separate from the main service. Not only are these kids out of their typical element of fun and games in learning about Christ on their level, they are dressed up in uncomfortable clothes in a quiet sanctuary. Visitors bringing children to Christmas service at a church other than their own will face the same challenge to occupy their littles as regular attenders. Having something for them do, an interactive way to involve them in the service, or entertain them while they sit with parents, really helps give the parents an opportunity to connect with Christ. 

    Teens and college-aged youth shouldn’t be overlooked, either. Many could be visiting with a boyfriend or girlfriend, or just sparked by their own curiosity or those of their friends. Maybe they’ve gone through a rough season or are sitting in heartache with nowhere else to turn. They could be back on winter break, sitting amidst their own church family, and still feel like visitors. The cusp of adulthood can be an extremely difficult transition. Give them a way to get connected, or stay connected, this Christmas and beyond. 

     

    Photo credit: @Thinkstock

    Meg encourages others to seek Him first through her life as a stay-at-home mom, career as a freelance writer, teaching Emoti-moms Weekly Bible Study, and leading the kids worship teams at her local church. She resides in a small, Northern lake town with her husband of ten years, two daughters, and their Golden-doodle. Meg writes about everyday life within the love of Christ on her blog, http://sunnyand80.org.