Church Visitor Horror Stories: Welcome Room

Church Visitor Horror Stories: Welcome Room

June 3, 2015 by

Last fall we started collecting Church Visitor Horror Stories to celebrate our book, Unwelcome: 50 Ways Churches Drive-Away First-Time Visitors by Jonathan Malm. It’s been scary stuff. But hopefully we can learn to be more welcoming.

The Welcome Room

Recently I visited a very large church in Ohio. This church is my parents’ home church, and while I have been there before, it has been several years.

I entered by myself and there weren’t any greeters. I got the nod of strangers, but no one talked to me. I stood against a wall waiting for my family and was completely ignored, even though I couldn’t have been a more obvious “lost visitor.” My family finally showed up and someone did greet me as we walked into the service.

During the service, the pastor announced that any first-time visitors were encouraged to go across the lobby after the service and meet one of the pastors in the “Welcome Room” and receive a gift of one of their worship CDs.

On the way out I checked out the “Welcome Room.” It was a small room with only one door and only two people standing around inside. Rather uninviting. I didn’t stick around to see if anyone went in. –Bryan Donihue

What’s the opposite of a VIP room?

You should work to integrate guests into the life of your church, not separate them.

The Solution

Having a specific room to welcome visitors is a step in the right direction. They’re thinking about visitors. They’re trying to welcome them. They even have a free gift.

Their heart is in the right place. But their execution is falling flat.

Why segregate guests and your welcoming committee into a lonely little room that’s easily overlooked? Awkward!

  • Put your greeters at the doors and welcome people as they come in.
  • Never make a visitor hunt for a specific room. If you have a visitor center, make it impossible to miss. Put it front and center and have signs all over the place directing people to it.
  • You should work to integrate guests into the life of your church. Introduce them to people. Help them feel like a part of what’s happening. Don’t separate them from everything that’s happening.


Unwelcome Now Available: Covering reserved seating and other sins.

Photo by Tommy Clark.
Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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One Response to “Church Visitor Horror Stories: Welcome Room”

  • Eric Dye
    June 3, 2015

    I don’t know if I should laugh or cry with these! :P

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