Proper church etiquette for a church welcome speech

Most pastors include a church welcome speech as a common part of a Sunday church service. This speech acknowledges those who may be visiting the church for the first time and invites members who are nearby to warmly greet the visitors. This ritual lets your visitors know that you hope they will return again and consider making your church their new church home.

Do It Early

About seven to 10 minutes after the service begins, take the opportunity to welcome your visitors. This time gap allows you to offer a short opening prayer, sing a song and settle into the worship experience. It also allows for those who always arrive late to make their way into the sanctuary and find a seat. It does not push your welcome speech so far into the order of worship that it disrupts the flow of your worship experience.

Make It Short

A welcome speech does not need to last more than a couple of minutes. A simple acknowledgement that the service may include visitors brings them to the attention of your church members. If the greeting is too long or too prominent, you may make your visitors feel spotlighted and uncomfortable and they could choose not to return.

Recognising Visitors

During the welcome, invite your visitors to raise a hand if they are willing to let others know they are there for the first time. Some visitors desire to be anonymous, and that's perfectly fine. If a visitor raises a hand, offer her a visitor's packet that tells her something about your church, such as meeting times, programs you offer and church contact information with the name of the pastor. If you include a visitor's card, offer visitors a small gift for turning it in to an usher or at your church information booth. Suitable gifts may include a CD of a sermon or a flower.


Ask your visitors to consider using the nametag you supply to help members more easily identify and greet them. Be aware that a nametag that identifies someone as a visitor may make some uncomfortable. You can decrease this discomfort if most of your members wear nametags. A nametag helps people catch a name easier, and when your members wear nametags, a visitor can more easily catch the names of the many people who may come up to greet him. If you do decide to use nametags for visitors, make them similar to those used by your members, only without the permanent holders, so the visitor doesn't feel like a display item.

Thank Them

Let your visitors know you are honoured by their presence. Thank them for considering your church worth visiting and express your hope that they find the kind of worship experience they desire. Invite them to return again and let them know about any newcomer's group or welcome class you may offer. Finally, you can invite church members to welcome the visitors with applause or by shaking their hands, if a member is sitting close.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.