Pastors, Here’s a Novel Idea: Invite Newcomers to Lunch

Include church members that are good at making people feel welcome

We’ve all heard the old adage about the revolving church door. People come in and, before we know what happened, they leave, never to return. But what if this didn’t have to be the case? How do we treat those visiting or relatively new to our churches in ways that make them know we are glad they came?

Although there are lots of ways to do this, I want to briefly look at one routine event: mealtimes. Meals are great ways to get to know people and extend hospitality.

Invite Newcomers to a Meal One-on-One

I know of a church of 300 that has a newcomers lunch every Sunday. Although this is a lot of work for maybe one or two families, it says to the congregation, “We value newcomers.” But what if your church is 100 people or less? And what if you have only seen one visiting family or individual every two weeks?

One good approach is to designate a leader in the church who will always invite newcomers out for a lunch (or dinner) with his or her family on the first or second Sunday that the newcomer visits. Even if the newcomer declines, it gives the leader the opportunity to lay the groundwork for inviting the newcomer later to a quarterly lunch.

Quarterly Lunches: Get Prepared

Beyond these one-on-one individual or family lunches, your church might do well to host quarterly newcomer lunches. Here, it is important to remember two things. First, invite a few people from your church who have the potential for greater involvement in the church and building friendships with the newcomers. Don’t just invite the overworked elder who doesn’t have space for any more commitments.

Remember, you are helping to build relationships. It doesn’t work to invite people who are too busy to build new friendships.

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