Last week, our area of the country experienced snow and bitter cold temperatures. Everyone was desperate to find a warm place to escape the cold, including a stray cat that has unofficially become part of our family over the past year. The cat, who my son has affectionately named Patches, was shivering so badly that my son asked if he could bring her into the house (in a cage that we purchased over the summer) to get warm. My response: “Of course.” Once inside the house, she stopped shivering and slept peacefully, thankful it seemed to be out of the cold.
Children who enter our church doors also crave a warm place – not just a physically warm space on a cold winter’s day but an emotionally & spiritually warm place whose impact will last much longer.
So how can we make our churches a warm, inviting place where children crave to be?
For First-Time Guests
- Introduce yourself to the child (and his or her family) during the check-in process.
- Engage the child in conversation while the parents are completing the check-in process. Get down on their level and look them in the eye.
- Explain what the morning will look like – what they’ll experience, who will teach them, etc.
- Walk the child and family to their classroom instead of pointing them in the right direction.
- Introduce them by name to the adult(s) in charge.
*Note: Our ministry pairs up a first-time guest with a regular attender of the same age/gender. This child will help the first-timer feel at ease and will look out for them during the class time.
- Welcome them by name. Get down on their level and look them in the eye.
- Express how happy you are to see them and spend the day with them – and mean it!
- Ask them about their week – school, sporting events, etc.
- Invite them to join in on an activity.
- Listen to them when they share. Listen really well.
- Ask how you can pray for them. Pray for them, even during the week. Then follow-up with them the following week.
- Talk to the child’s parent. Know that your ministry to children also includes the grown ups in their lives.
“And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”
Jesus, Matthew 18:5
Who will you welcome this weekend with the love of Jesus? What other ways would you make a child feel welcome?