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Warming the Welcome

Greeting newcomers and visitors is a continuing ministry for most congregations. Here's how three churches structure their informal contacts with first-timers.

1. At First Church of God, San Diego, California, gift certificates from a popular ice cream parlor encourage newcomers to join the Sunday evening singles group for an after-meeting treat. Pastor Terry Fisher also encloses the gift certificates in personal letters written to other visitors.

2. Each Sunday Noel Memorial United Methodist Church in Shreveport, Louisiana, greets twenty to fifty visitors from all over the city. Within 48 hours someone from the church will deliver a batch of homemade cookies to those visitors' homes.

The church's membership list is computer sorted by Zip Code. Each Monday evening Associate Minister Scott Adams and one volunteer take the visitor list from the previous day and locate church members living in the same Zip Code areas as the visitors. One of those members is asked to deliver ...

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