Rick Warren
Rick Warren (Facebook)

If the two times of the year that guests typically show up for a weekend church service are Easter and Christmas, then we have an evangelistic mandate to make the most of the opportunity to welcome them, show them grace and love, and initiate a relationship with them if at all possible.

The problem is, the people who attend faithfully the other 50 Sundays of the year often forget about the priority of welcoming and greeting those who are attending for the first time.

One of the most valuable things church leaders can be doing right now is reminding their members about the fundamentals of receiving guests. And that starts with a basic understanding of the kind of guests you’re going to meet at your Christmas services:

  • There are those who come seeking—like the wise men.
  • There are those who come surprised—like the shepherds.
  • There are those who come distracted—like the innkeeper and his wife.
  • There are those who come kicking and screaming—like Herod.

In other words, your crowd will include those who are present with family but don’t really believe, or at least they don’t believe that Jesus is for them. Others may be hurt and in pain, but they’re giving the message of Jesus another shot and you’re His spokesperson. And many more will be coming in an enthusiastic search of a message for their lives—a message of hope and a spiritual family that will love and include them.

The Bible is clear that when people visit your church this Christmas, they will be coming into at least two things:

1. They will be walking into “great light.” (Matt. 4:16). They’re going to experience (hopefully) the joy, the love and the laughter of God’s people. The effect of the light of Jesus needs to be evident.

2. They will be coming to hear “good news.” (Luke 2:10). They’re also going to hear the truth about Jesus proclaimed in a way that is relevant to their lives. So the goodness of the Good News needs to be evident also.

Philippians 2:1-4 tells us about the kind of attitude with which we should meet people. What do they need from us? They need encouragement. They need comfort. They need fellowship—every one of them needs a church family. And they need tenderness and compassion.

The world is not the most encouraging place around the holidays, and many people who visit your service will be suffering from discouragement and depression as they reflect on a difficult year or those they’ve lost, or as they struggle with the stresses of finances and making time for family in a busy month. They need a word of encouragement from your church—a pat on the back, a handshake and maybe even a hug!

Here are six tips for PASTOR-ing your guests—take them to heart and pass them along to your team.

P—Pray with people. Ask people how they are doing. If the answer is anything other than the standard “Fine,” ask if you can lead them in a brief, personal prayer.

A—Ask to help. Ask if you can guide them to where they need to go or help them in any way.

S—Smile. A smile, in itself, can be a ministry of encouragement to people.

T—Take the initiative. Make the first move in approaching people to welcome them, help them and bless them.

O—Open the door of faith. One of the greatest things that can happen is to see lay ministers sharing the gospel and offering to lead people to faith.

R—Recognize other lay ministers. Great teams experience mutual encouragement. Thank someone else who is serving.

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times best-seller The Purpose Driven Life. His book The Purpose Driven Church was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

For the original article, visit pastors.com.

Leaders are readers! Subscribe now and get 3 magazines for the price of 1. Get Ministry Today, Charisma and SpiritLed Woman all for $24. YES - I'm a leader!

Ministry Today Subscription Special - Subscribe to Ministry Today magazine today and get 12 issues (2 full years) plus Amplified Leadership, a free leadership book for only $24.

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
  • A new path is opening now.

    Prophecy: The Lord Is Opening Doors for Kingdom-Minded Businesses

    Find out how to activate this prophetic word of increase in your company.

  • Do you have the proper training to be a soldier in God's army?

    The Training You Need as a Soldier in God's Army

    We are in already in a war. Let us enter the fight as fully trained soldiers with the full armor ...

  • Greeter ministry

    5 Common Greeter Mistakes to Correct in the New Year

    Like those involved in any other ministry, greeters can get in a rut.

  • Saddleback Church

    One Clear-Cut Sign Your Church Is Mature and Healthy

    A church's health is measured by its obedience to this important mandate, not by its seating ...

  • Start a Wildfire of Spiritual Growth in Your Church

    Start a Wildfire of Spiritual Growth in Your Church

    Watch how God can take one spark and turn it into a wildfire that impacts your ministry, your community and even future generations.

  • There are reasons your membership is stuck around the 400 level.

    5 Reasons Churches Don't Break the 400-Member Barrier

    This may force you to make some tough decisions.

  • Plow that stump

    Plow Around That Stump, Pastor

    Most churches have sacred cows. Here are some challenges you might face.

  • Strengthen your church by investing more time and energy in small groups.

    5 Ways to Strengthen Your Church in 2017

    These suggestions will help you better serve your congregation and community.

  • Flowers

    Does Your Ministry Address Scarcity?

    An abundance mentality enhances our vision of scarcity.

Use Desktop Layout
Ministry Today Magazine — Serving and empowering church leaders