Welcoming our visitors

By Revd Jason Kennedy, Church Growth Officer

As a general rule, of all the people who try a church, only 10% of them actually stay and become fully a part of the worshipping community of that church. And yet, lots of people are still coming along to our churches.

And yet, consider how many visitors come through our doors every week, for festivals, civic occasions, occasional offices and just coming as tourists, friends and relatives. Consider what it could mean if we could raise the figure of those who stayed from 10% to 25%?


We need to open the front door to people, but we also need to close the front door; to stop them simply walking on through. There are no silver bullets to church growth. But as a Church Growth Officer, I do believe that our welcome is pivotal to the growth of God’s Kingdom in our local churches.

Welcome makes sense practically. We can share the good news of Jesus Christ for all we’re worth in our communities; but that work will be for nought if, when they are invited back to into our church community, our welcome and integration is so impoverished that the newcomer is unable to make a home there.

Perhaps more importantly, welcome also makes sense theologically. We don’t just welcome people because that way we’d get more people in our church services. Church growth isn’t about numbers of people present on a Sunday morning. If that were the case, we could spend our entire church budget on giving away free gifts on a Sunday. They’d come!

We welcome because it is a reflection of the Kingdom of God, and our mission is the Mission of God – to bring in His Kingdom:

Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.
Hebrews 13:1-2 (NRSV)

Welcome is a part of our common life. We are to be an open community with blended edges, called to grow and make disciples.

But what does it really mean to welcome? Many churches say ‘we’re welcoming’ – but often this means that we’re nice to each other! Often when we think of welcome, we focus on the greeting at the door. Welcome, however, goes a lot farther than this.

Bob Jackson writes:

True welcome is about active encouragement into the heart of the community of the church, and its job is not done until someone is completely at home, a valued, contributing member of the body of Christ.
Everybody Welcome Leaders’ Manual, Bob Jackson and George Fisher, p6

The Everybody Welcome Course is a great way to help educate the whole church about welcome – from making links into the community through to training a welcome team. It’s a five week course (the first four weeks for the whole church, the fifth week aimed at the welcome team), with DVD resources, leaders’ guides and participants’’ handbooks. It’s been used and well received in this and other dioceses across a range of traditions. Why not consider it for your church?

Everybody Welcome course materials are available from Church House Publishing. For more information, see http://www.chpublishing.co.uk/features/everybody-welcome.

The Diocese of Derby

For SatNav directions, please use DE1 3DR. However, please note that the car park behind Derby Church House (Derby Cathedral Car Park) is contract only Monday-Friday and so unavailable to visitors. Paid parking is available at Chapel Street Multistorey Car Park (DE1 3GU), Park Safe (Bold Lane) DE1 3NT and the Assembly Rooms Car Park (DE1 3AF). Derby Cathedral Car Park is available as paid parking on Saturdays and Sundays.

Contact and Find Us

Derby Church House

Full Street, Derby DE1 3DR

01332 388650



Map and parking information