Welcome Speech at Church

Welcome speech at church

Anyone who has attended a church service is familiar with a welcome speech at church


They can take many forms, be of various lengths, and be delivered by any number of different individuals. At the end of the day, though, practically every church opens up their service by taking a few minutes to focus upfront, share a few words, and kick off the service from there.


The question is, why do we give these little talks before a service? What are they supposed to accomplish? For many, especially those attending smaller, more intimate churches where all of the attendees know one another, an address of this nature can feel superficial, perfunctory, and, in a word, pointless. 


And you know what? I get it.


When it’s treated as an unnecessary time filler, a church welcome speech becomes a useless item on the agenda. Instead of helping, it just ends up communicating inconsequential information to the wrong people.


In reality, though, your church’s opening words are a crucial moment in the service that should never be taken lightly, no matter how big your church is. 


Allow me to explain why.

What is a welcome speech at church?

It’s helpful to start by pointing out just what a welcome is in the first place. For anyone who might have been wondering, it’s exactly what you’d expect from the name. It’s a brief address that welcomes those who are attending a particular event.

 

However, as you might expect, the term “welcome” is a loaded one. The act of welcoming isn’t simply saying “Hey, there. Let’s get started, folks!” 

 

The purpose of welcome speeches is to go one step further by bringing the audience together — which is not an easy task, by the way — so that you can all begin the ongoing event as a community. A good address should help the crowd focus. It should also set the tone for the events that are to follow along with providing a brief synopsis of the upcoming agenda, purpose, and goals of the meeting.

Why does a welcome speech matter for your church?

When it comes to churches, in particular, welcome speeches specifically tend to welcome people who are visiting your church for the first time. In fact, especially with smaller churches, it’s really the visitors who benefit the most from a welcome speech. 

Who typically visits a church?

People visit churches for a variety of different reasons. For instance:

 

  • A visitor might be considering attending church for the first time.
  • Guests might be looking for a new church due to a move or some other life event.
  • Newcomers might simply be visiting from another church.
  • A guest might be on vacation in the area.
  • A visitor might have been invited to the event by a relative who is already an attendee.
  • Newcomers might be a guest speaker or church leaders from another congregation.
  • Still other visitors might be folks who have a home in a nearby location and are curious for more information about your church.

 

There are a million reasons that someone might attend your church. I’m taking the time to list out so many of them here to make one crucial point: 

 

You can’t address every visitor’s reason for being there at the same time.

 

This is why a church welcome speech is so essential. It needs to speak to your congregation as a whole, including visitors and regular attendees. It needs to invite each and every one of them to come in and engage with your community.

 Inviting visitors into your community

Fortunately, creating an inviting atmosphere for church attendees isn’t typically a very challenging task. When asked, 68% of churchgoers responded that they felt they were “part of a group of people who are united in their beliefs and who take care of each other in practical ways.” 

 

With that said, it’s still important to remember that you’re also inviting the visitors to join in your service. You don’t know which of these have attended churches in the past, who has had bad experiences doing so, and which individuals have never stepped foot in a church before in their lives. 

 

This is why having a thoughtful, pre-designed church welcome speech is important. It enables you to speak to all and sundry without rambling on, forgetting important information, or even — in a worst-case scenario — accidentally saying something confidential, insulting, or inappropriate.

Who gives a welcome speach at Church?

One common question that pops up is who should give the church welcome speech. 

 

Should it be the pastor? An elder? Another speaker? A congregant? Unfortunately, I’m going to have to be “that guy” and say that there isn’t really a cut and dry answer here. From what I can tell, you can find all sorts of individuals opening up services.

 

Sometimes the orator is consistent — typically a pastor or other church leaders. Some churches opt for a revolving selection of individuals.

 It's not the title but the person that matters

One thing that is always the same, regardless of who is talking, is that people are chosen who are confident, comfortable in front of a crowd, and can be trusted to stay on track with the message. 

 

The last thing that you want to do is ask a kid from your youth group to give one of your welcome speeches only to find that they’re including curse words or spouting some random piece of half-baked theology. 

 

However, you choose to select your candidate, make sure they’re an individual (or individuals) that you can trust to come through with a quality delivery on a weekly basis, from covering all of the necessary stuff to simply remembering to give their name.

What should you say when welcoming visitors?

Understanding the importance of church welcome speeches and finding a good candidate to deliver them isn’t enough. You also need to think through what your organization’s welcome speech is going to include. 

 

Here are a few things that are worth considering when greeting a church audience. They don’t necessarily all need to be in every welcome speech, but these are the most commonly included components, in my experience:

Start with a visitor-focused greeting

The first thing that nearly every welcome speech has is a basic greeting. This is the perfunctory stuff. It consists of:

 

Getting everyone’s attention.

Saying hello.

Giving your name and letting the congregation know who you are.

Identifying the church name, the pastors, and any other important people worth mentioning.

 

While this may look like a lot, you can typically cover all four points in a sentence or two, which is good because when it comes to welcome speeches, the intro should be as short and sweet as possible.

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Here are some examples of what you might want to consider.

church welcome presentation
Church Welcome Talk
Church Welcome
We Welcome You To Church
We Welcome You To Church

Acknowledge the newbies

Perhaps the most important piece of any church welcome speech is a shoutout for any new people attending your congregation apart from your regular members. Thank them for coming and make them feel welcome.

 

This is a great chance to make a location-specific, community-wide reference, such as mentioning that you’re glad that the sunny weather allowed so many people to make it. By attaching attendance to a geographic location, you relate to all of the people and show that you’re thankful for the visitors’ attendance as much as anyone else.

Consider mentioning beliefs, vision, and goals

Another common element of many church welcome speeches is a reference to your organization’s beliefs, vision, and goals.

 

For instance, you can reference that your church was founded with the vision of spreading the gospel, building relationships, and reaching the local community. You could bring up the fact that you make it a primary goal to support missionaries or various ethical causes, too.

 

Now, just to be clear, this isn’t an invitation to spend half an hour sharing in-depth information by reading your church’s mission statement aloud. However, if there are any clearly unique elements about your church, it doesn’t hurt to weave them in as a primer or a “sneak peak” to show visitors what’s coming.

Cover unique service elements

Another worthwhile aspect to include is any particularly important service elements that should be highlighted before the service begins. A few common ones that come to mind include:

 

Pointing out where visitors can direct prayer requests and other information.

Outlining how visitors can expect the music or sermon to go.

Providing a brief breakdown for visitors on how your junior church program works.

Explaining any less-common elements that visitors should be aware of, like prophetic words, laying on of hands, or speaking in tongues.

 

By taking the time to explain these, you can set expectations. In some cases, you can even raise expectations by mentioning something that newcomers may naturally assume wasn't going to happen.

Point out practical concerns and rules

It’s also wise to use this time to point out any practical factors that visitors should know are associated with your service. 

 

For instance, you can show visitors where the bathrooms are, give a rough estimate for how long the service will last, or direct people to fill out contact cards or download your church app. This is an area where you don’t need to go into detail. Just highlight genuinely important stuff and then move on.

Include prayer, scripture, and Jesus Christ ...always Jesus

Finally, remember that, visitors or not, you’re still talking to people in a church. Don’t shy away from statements of faith, hope, and love, read the scriptures and share words of encouragement from God. There are some churches that will read a portion of scripture to open the service. Others will simply jump right to prayer. 


Regardless of the specifics, always include the Lord God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. After all, it’s all about Them. Once your welcome speech is complete, you might want to consider a sermon illustration.

More Welcoming tips to keep in mind

Along with understanding the different things that you can include, there are a few more things to remember when you go to plan out your church welcome speech.

Update on Stewardship

Your church has a stewardship mandate, and it's essential to communicate the progress of the assignment. There is no better time to update your congregation about the success or shortcomings than during your church welcome speech.

Don’t forget the regular attendees

While the bulk of your dialogue is focused on visitors, it’s important to remain aware of your regular members, too. Keep things short and try to make comments that include everyone from time to time.

Avoid the temptation to overwhelm with information

Resist the urge to get sucked down the rabbit hole of treating your welcome speech as an information dump that overwhelms visitors. You obviously want to include basic information for people like the church name or where the bathrooms are, but only include the stuff that is most important. Speak slowly and only say what is absolutely necessary. The rest can follow later on in the service.

Walk the line when it comes to formality

With most welcome speeches, you’re going to want to either be formal or informal. With a church setting, in particular, it’s wise to strike a balance. I suggest starting with a primarily formal tone, as you’re addressing people that you don’t know and they represent a mixed group of ages and interests. However, you’re also welcoming everyone into your church community. Keep up an informal edge and even consider cracking a safe joke or two (I recommend a good old-fashioned dad joke) if appropriate.

Tone matters

Along with formality, also consider your overall tone. You don’t want to look like an automaton coldly delivering a pre-written address. On the flip side, you don’t want to look like you’re speaking off the cuff to someone in your living room. It’s best to aim for a tone that checks boxes like inviting, warm, uplifting, encouraging, engaging, and relaxing.

Go for an “elevator pitch” or “nutshell” approach

I’ve already mentioned the idea of being concise a few times. It really is important here. You’re not giving the announcements. You’re not preaching the sermon. Heck, you’re just opening up the service. Don’t feel the need to be long-winded or open-ended about the process. Say what’s important, deliver it in an inviting manner, and then be done.

Invite visitors into the process

Your church welcome speech is an ideal opportunity to start things off on the right foot with your visitors. After all, first impressions are powerful, and this is the first impression of your church’s service. Try to connect with visitors and invite them to be a part of the service. Prep them for praise, tease what the sermon will be about, and show them where they can take notes, point out contact cards, and explain how they can make prayer requests. In a word, invite them into the experience.

Avoid reading a prewritten statement

With so much to think about, it’s tempting to use a prewritten welcome speech. Don’t do it. There’s nothing that turns people off more than someone mumbling dispassionate bullet points from a piece of paper. We’re talking about a welcome speech that should take a minute — two minutes tops. Take the time to prep beforehand and then deliver it while making direct eye contact with your listeners.

Remember, now isn’t the time for announcements

While there are specific things that you should point out, your welcome speech is hardly the time to give full-blown announcements. Offer a download or an online bulletin option to be sure everyone has access to the more detailed announcements elsewhere.

 

If you can keep these tips in mind as you go along, you’ll be better equipped to deliver a strong, effective, and concise welcome speech. It should be able to hit the right topics, speak to the right people, and prep the entire congregation for the service that is about to start.

Don’t Forget to Name the Next Person

As much as the content and delivery are crucial, it’s the end of the welcome that can often be the most important. This isn’t necessarily because you need to end on a high note or provide some kind of splashy ending so much as the fact that you need to seamlessly transition into whatever is coming next in the service. This is really helpful for first time guests.

 

If you end the welcome speech and there’s an awkward silence before the sermon starts or you haven’t introduced the name of the next individual who's going to talk, it’s going to deflate any progress that you may have just made. 

 

If the preacher is going to deliver a sermon, introduce him by name. If it’s time for praise and worship, have the church members give the worship team a warm welcome to the stage or give the name of the worship leader and pass things off. If you have a time of greeting, be sure that everyone knows that it’s time to say hello to your neighbor. Whatever it is, let the congregation know what’s coming next.

Wrapping things up

At this point, you should be good to go. I was tempted to include some speech templates or an example for a church welcome speech in here, but truth be told, these are some of the most intimate and personalized aspects of your church’s service. I don’t want to give you an overly-formulaic approach. 

 

Instead, take each recommendation above to heart. Then consider what kind of speech will be the most appropriate for your particular congregation. The rest will quickly come together from there, I guarantee it.

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