Making guests welcome at your church is serious business. Church consultant Gary McIntosh knows the truth of that statement: after moving to Tulsa, Okla., and encountering a chilly reception in various congregations, his grandparents stopped going to church. They never regularly attended for the rest of their lives.

"We must get ready for company!" writes the Biola University professor in his book, Beyond the First Visit." "Company's coming to our church every Sunday, and what visitors perceive in our welcome will influence their feelings and response to church and the Lord for years to come."

Five ways he recommends hosting your guests:

  1. Arrive early to make sure everything is ready for their arrival.

  2. Greet them warmly at the entrance, escort them to their seats and help them understand what is taking place.

  3. Anticipate and answer as many questions as possible in advance so they don't have to ask.

  4. Do something extra to make their visit special.

  5. Walk them to the door and invite them back.

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