Is your church as welcoming as you think?

The Methodist Church in Britain wants to develop a "culture ofwelcome" in local churches with the launch of a new onlineresource.

The free online resource - First Impressions Count - is a workshop designed to helpchurches reflect on the welcome that a visitor experiences whenthey first walk through the door. It aims to tackle theintimidation and anxiety that a newcomer might feel when entering achurch 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 ornot they choose to return. First Impressions Count is designed tohelp churches improve their quality of welcome, and takes accountof a culture increasingly unfamiliar with Christian faith andworship."

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

Ipswich Circuit in East Anglia piloted the resource earlier thisyear. Dr Jack Lawson, District Development and EvangelismEnabler, said: "We had 30 people turn up to the workshoprepresenting eight churches, which was more than we expected. Itwent really well. There wasn't one church represented there thatdid not go away and work on something, whether the state of thebuilding, the signage outside or the personal welcome. Everyonerealised that they either underdid or overdid their welcome."

The Church is encouraging people to share their best and worstexperiences 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