07 May 2013

Is your church as welcoming as you think?

The Methodist Church in Britain wants to develop a "culture of welcome" in local churches with the launch of a new online resource.

The free online resource - First Impressions Count - is a workshop designed to help churches reflect on the welcome that a visitor experiences when they first walk through the door. It aims to tackle the intimidation and anxiety that a newcomer might feel when entering a church for the first time

Ed Mackenzie, Evangelism, Spirituality and Discipleship Officer, said: "It can be intimidating to visit a church for the first time, and the welcome a visitor receives has a huge impact on whether or not they choose to return. First Impressions Count is designed to help churches improve their quality of welcome, and takes account of a culture increasingly unfamiliar with Christian faith and worship."

The First Impressions Count workshop is divided into three sessions lasting two-and-a-half hours in total. It can be used in preparation for Back to Church Sunday or The Big Welcome. The sessions look at creating a welcoming building, being a welcoming people and inclusion. 

Ipswich Circuit in East Anglia piloted the resource earlier this year. Dr Jack Lawson, District Development and Evangelism Enabler, said: "We had 30 people turn up to the workshop representing eight churches, which was more than we expected. It went really well. There wasn't one church represented there that did not go away and work on something, whether the state of the building, the signage outside or the personal welcome. Everyone realised that they either underdid or overdid their welcome."

The Church is encouraging people to share their best and worst experiences of church welcome on Twitter using the hashtag #firstimpressions.

Read examples of welcoming churches featured on ShipofFools.com
St Andrew's 
Dallas Bible Church 
Waterfront Christian Church

And experiences of bad welcomes:
St John's 
Camden Town Methodist 

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