Welcoming and Retaining First-Time Guests

MSNo matter the size of your congregation you see first-time guests each year. While some guests choose not to return because they simply aren’t ready to enter into congregational life, others don’t return because of their visitor experience. It’s easy to overlook how people new to your congregation are welcomed and provided with information. But when this process is forgotten, so are the very people you serve. Knowing the difference between what welcomes and what overwhelms is important if you want your visitors to come back again.

In this workshop, you will learn about guest perspectives, and what it means to truly open the doors of your congregation and welcome people. Case studies, best practices in hospitality, and intentionality about reaching new people and connecting with them will be covered.

Multimedia, group work, and Q & A are all part of this experience. Through discussion and group exercises, you will develop a clear understanding of how to help your congregations become more welcoming and what resources and practices help best inform and connect newcomers into the life of the congregation.


By the end of this workshop, you will be able to:

  • See your congregation through the eyes of a visitor
  • Articulate common reasons guests (and millennials) don’t return
  • Implement best practices for hospitality
  • List new opportunities for reaching people in your mission-field

In 2008, Melanie Smollen had an idea to change the way churches approach hospitality and growth. Faith Perceptions was born. Faith Perceptions consults with churches and gathers feedback from first-time guests through the Mystery Guest Program. Smollen consults with churches across the country and speaks at conferences and other events about the research and work of Faith Perceptions.

This workshop 9 a.m.-4 p.m. (Eastern time) Thursday, April 12, 2018 in Seymour. The cost is $30 per person. When congregational teams of three or more register together, the cost is discounted to $25 per person. This fee includes continental breakfast, lunch and workshop materials.

Workshops limited to Indiana congregations.


How can you maximize your learning in this workshop and others? Check out this Center for Congregations article, "Getting the Most from an Education Event."