Health and Growth

How to Impress New Visitors with Your Church Welcome Speech

The church welcome speech shouldn't be the junk drawer of your worship service—it should be the highest converting 2 minutes of your time.

How to Impress New Visitors with Your Church Welcome Speech
by

Paul Maxwell

Most church visitors have a completely passive experience during their first time in church.

  • They observe the lobby.
  • They watch the sermon.
  • They analyze the service program.
  • They sort-of-pretend to know the music

The church welcome speech is the pastor’s one chance to make new visitors feel like they’re not aliens visiting from Mars.

The church welcome speech is the single opportunity that church leadership has to make an irreversible impression on newcomers.

Because here's the hard truth:

Visitors are judging.

Visitors are forming opinions.

Visitors are putting you in a box with other people they’ve experienced.

And you get about 3 minutes to proactively carve out a box for yourself, make visitors feel at ease, and communicate to them that your church is trustworthy, warm, energetic, and maybe even a place worthy of calling “home.”

Because this is the burden every welcome announcement carries for new visitors, the bar is very high.

If you’re too boring, you’ll lose visitors’ attention.

If you’re too dogmatic, you’ll lose the visitors’ trust.

If you’re too self-interested, you’ll lose the visitors’ good will.

And you know what?

That’s not a bad thing.

The fact that the welcome speech carries so much weight means it is a highly condensed opportunity to speak meaningfully to people who you’re encountering for the first time.

Here are 5 elements every welcome speech should have in order to keep attention, build trust, and grow good will among people visiting your church for the first time.

Perk: The better you are at welcoming people, the more your veteran members will enjoy it, too.

1. Make people laugh

Professional presenters often say: “If you can make ‘em laugh, you can make ‘em cry.”

The point is this: If you can make people laugh, it helps them relax.

Laughter will cause people to trust you more and be more interested in things you say.

If you say one thing that people find funny, they’ll believe you understand human nature and they’ll start to anticipate that your following comments will be profound and meaningful.

But making people laugh is about more than doing a standup routine.

The goal of the welcome speech isn’t about you being funny, but about the visitors feeling welcomed.

Here are a few tips to introduce humor into your welcome speech that don’t risk offending visitors, but which help you avoid being tacky:

  • Never let your humor be at someone else’s expense (this makes you seem like a bully)
  • Make a dad joke (this makes you seem fun-loving, but not self-serious)
  • Use a pun or two (this adds light-heartedness to a church event)
  • Reference your love of a local food favorite (it humanizes you so that people perceive you as relatable) — for example, “I pitched the elders that we move the church to Chick Fil A, but they didn’t want to do Sunday school in the drive thru, so we’re moving forward with the building campaign.”

Again, remember: Humor isn’t a frivolous matter.

If you can make them laugh, you can make them cry.

2. Give them something

Giving something away for free is a powerful way to put visitors at ease.

Try to find a way to give away a new item every single week to first-time visitors:

  • A special invite to an event
  • A free book for Bible study
  • Church SWAG, such as branded mugs and coffee tumblers
  • A Chick Fil A gift card

This may sound expensive, but the value of a first impression is priceless.

If your Chick Fil A gift card tips the scale for a first-time visitor to become a second-time visitor, you just paid $10 for a recurring attendee at your church. Google charges most people more than that just for a website visit.

Most businesses would pay $100 to convert a one-time user into a second-time user.

Don’t underestimate the value of your visitors by neglecting to utilize gifts to create good will with new church visitors.

The relational, communal, and financial payoff for the church of acquiring a new tithing member could have returns of 1000% and more.

3. Don’t use church welcome as an announcement junk drawer

Don’t use the church announcement time like a Starbucks bulletin board.

These precious few minutes are about people, not yammering on and on about in-house business that could be more easily and efficiently communicated through a church app.

Communicate logistical information to your church through email, text, and push notifications.

Use the precious real estate of your welcome speech to create a personal experience for new visitors.

Your return on investment will be much higher.

4. Always welcome newcomers

We’ve talked a lot about visitors so far, but it’s important not to forget the most important thing about a welcome speech — welcoming.

This means that you should speak directly to new visitors.

  • Say “Thank you.” Express how grateful you are that visitors are at your church.
  • Tell them where to go. Explain exactly where to go in the visitor’s center afterward.
  • Tell them why you want them to go there. Explain that you would like to take new visitors out to lunch and learn more about them.

Create a script template that you can reuse week after week, using new humor, new ways of inflecting your invitation, and new offerings to give visitors.

5. Tell people to download the app

One of the most important elements of your welcome speech will be to direct people toward a tool that can immediately capture their information.

Ideally, you would have a church app that you can direct them to download directly during the welcome speech.

Tell them to enter their information in the church app, and then go to the visitor center after the service to collect this week’s free gift.

Use this prompt as a way to express to the entire congregation that they will need the church app for the best resources to follow along with the sermon, take notes, and share insights socially.

6. Explain the logistics of childcare

Childcare should be every church’s very first logistical priority.

If people don’t feel that a church has excellent childcare, they will not become members at that church.

Expressing clear childcare instructions to the congregation is the single greatest way to communicate to new visitors: “We care about you.”

Show how excellent your childcare is by preparing and communicating the necessary security, administrative, and custodial protocol so that visitors can simply enjoy the service and use your church's check-in station.

This will increase the rate at which you convert first-time visitors into second-time visitors, and second-time visitors into long-term members.

Take 15 seconds during the welcome speech to explain and detail instructions for parents.

Over to you

Many pastors spend hours a week preparing for the sermon, but they’ll wing the welcome speech.

The welcome speech is like the meet cute, and the sermon is the first date.

If you can spend 15 minutes preparing your welcome speech to optimize it for new visitors, you’ll have a much more eager audience among new visitors during the sermon.

Just follow this five-step protocol:

  1. Make them laugh
  2. Give them something
  3. Don’t use the church welcome speech as a church announcement junk drawer
  4. Always welcome newcomers
  5. Tell people to download the app
  6. Explain the logistics of childcare

You’ll be surprised how much return you’ll get on that 15 minutes of preparing and reviewing this welcome speech protocol every week.

Author: Paul Maxwell, Ph.D., is the Content Strategist at Tithe.ly. He lives in Fishers, IN with his beautiful wife and rowdy wheaten terrier.

Why Write Church Donation Letters?

In a previous blog post, I shared the different ways your church can thank donors—from automated emails to year-end giving reports. Printed donation letters also play an essential role in your church’s stewardship efforts.

Donation letters are the Swiss Army knife of your church’s gratitude arsenal. It may not be the most powerful—but it’s versatile, handy, and gets used often.

Your basic church donation letter can serve many different purposes, including:

  • Acknowledging that you received a donation
  • Thanking the giver for being generous with their finances
  • Sharing other ways the person can support your church
  • Allowing the donor to write the gift off on their taxes
  • Encouraging supporters to make recurring donations
  • Requesting future donations from church members

A single, well-crafted donation letter can pull together several of these things simultaneously. Better donation letters lead to more giving, which leads to more donation letters—thus creating a cycle of on-going church generosity.

Church Donation Letter Samples

Here’s the good news—you don’t have to write an individualized letter for every person who gives to your church. That would be tough to do for even smaller churches. And most donors don’t expect you to. They’d rather you be putting their gift to better use in the community, instead of ceaselessly writing thank you notes.

With the possible exception of some unique circumstances, your church can use template language for the majority of your church donation letters. You’ll have to add in custom details like the donor’s name and gift amount, but you can write everything else in advance.  

To make this even easier on you, here are a few basic church donation letter templates you can copy and paste. Keep in mind that not all of these have to be in print—you could just as easily turn some of these samples into email appeals.

1. Donation Acknowledgment Letter

The Donation Acknowledgement Letter is a basic way you can confirm and affirm a monetary gift to your church. Sending these is standard practice in church and nonprofit culture.

Dear [first name],
I want to personally thank you for your donation of [gift amount] to [church name]. We’re honored you would bless us with your generosity. Donations like yours make a big difference in the work our church is doing in the community.
Without givers like you, our church can’t have an impact or influence in our community. With your support, we’re partnering with local nonprofits, sending out global mission trips, and hosting small groups on topics that help real people like you. Together, we can make a difference.
Because we’re a tax-exempt nonprofit, you also get to write this donation off on your taxes. This letter serves as official proof of your donation, so keep it in your records come tax season. At the end of the year, we’ll also send you an annual recap with how much you’ve given to the church.
Thank you for supporting [church name]!
Sincerely,
[your name]

2. Donation Request Letter

Not every church member realizes the importance of giving, or understand Bible verses about tithing and giving.  So a Donation Request Letter helps to spread that awareness and encourage a spirit of generosity.

Dear [first name],
How are the finances in your household? That was a rhetorical question, so you don’t have to answer—besides, this is a letter so we wouldn’t hear you anyway. But we still want you to think about that question.
Money is a uniquely human issue, one we all struggle with to one degree or another. Even if you’re financially blessed, you still have the burden of stewarding your money wisely. And we believe that one of the best ways to invest your money is into the local church.
Tithing (giving 10% of your income) on a regular basis not only supports the work we do at [church name]. It doesn’t just support local missions and community growth. It also shows an obedience to God by making his work a financial priority in your life.
So if you find yourself ready to put God first in both your heart and your wallet, we encourage you to make a one-time gift or sign up to make recurring donations. That way, you won’t have to ever wonder again about the financial status of your household.
Sincerely,
[your name]

3. Monthly Giving Letter

Many church donations aren’t just one-time gifts. Plenty of givers contribute monthly—and that should be acknowledged.

Use this template to correspond with recurring givers.  

Dear [first name],
Thank you for being an active and faithful member of our church community. By giving to our church on a monthly basis, you’re showing that our church has a meaningful place in your heart. We just wanted to write this to let you know that you’re in our heart, too.
Donating to the church monthly allows us to preach the gospel, make disciples, and support others in our community who need help. Others like the local food bank and the nearby homeless shelter. We’re answering the cry of the needy, and it’s all thanks to contributors like you.
We earnestly appreciate your ongoing support and want to let you know we’re here for you. If there’s ever anything we can do for you and your family, don’t hesitate to reach out. You are a valued member of our church family. And you’re financial support is making a difference.
Sincerely,
[your name]

4. Year-End Giving Letter

At the end of each year, it’s customary to give your church supporters a summary of their gifts. The primary reason is for tax purposes, but it’s also a way to recap everything your church has done over the past year with their support.

Dear [first name],
You’re getting this letter because you gave to [church name] at some point during the past year. That might have been a one-time gift, or recurring donations. Either way, we want to thank you for your generous support. Every contribution helps.
One of the official reasons for this letter is for tax purposes. That’s right—you get to write these donations off on your taxes. Which is why we’ve included a summary of all the contributions you’ve made to our church this year.
But the other reason for this letter is to let you know what we’ve done with the money you gave. We take stewardship very seriously, which means we value spending our time and resources wisely.
During the year, our church supported local nonprofits, sent global missions teams, and baptised quite a few people. It was a great year for us—thanks in large part to donors like you.
So thank you for your support of our church, and we hope you’ll consider continuing to contribute to our mission in the coming year.
Sincerely,
[your name]  

5. Church Fundraising Letter

Sometimes you need to make a more significant financial push using tried and true church fundraising ideas. Some churches call this a Stewardship Campaign or a Church Capital Campaign. Either way, the goal is to raise a certain amount of money for a big project. And typically, a solid letter of appeal is an integral part of that.

Dear [first name],
God has a plan for everyone and everything. That includes you, and it includes [church name]. None of us can fully know God’s plan—the best we can do is pray and listen for clarity. Our church leadership has been doing just that and are excited to announce our latest church project.
[Detail the outline of the major church project—this could include a building campaign, or raising support for a global mission trip. Anything specific to your church that requires a fundraising letter. Be sure to include a fundraising goal so everyone knows what you’re shooting for.]
But we can’t pull this off without your support. Whether you give to the church on a regular basis, or just attend on occasion, we’re asking you to consider contributing to this massive undertaking prayerfully. It’s something we need our entire church community’s help with.
Even if you can’t make a large gift, know that every little bit helps. It’s more about coming together as a community united behind a common cause. We hope that you’ll consider making a donation towards this great step forward that we’re making together.
Sincerely,
[your name]

Tips when writing church donation letters

It’s not enough to just copy and paste this content and send away. The key to an effective church donation letter is a touch of personalization. Follow these tips to take your donation letters to the next level:

  • Examples: Add specific examples of how your church will use the donation. Tell a story about the work your church is doing in the community and connect that with giving.
  • Personalization: For regular donors, don’t be afraid to add a short, handwritten personal note. This shows that you’ve singled them out with praise.
  • Timeliness: Sending donation letters quickly reminds people you’re thankful for them. But this also takes organization and efficiency. All the more reason to use pre-written templates.
  • Storytelling: Everything is better with stories—including donation letters. Weave in a specific narrative of how your church is making a difference and how the money will be used.

There’s no one right or wrong way to write a donation letter or request contributions. You’ve got to do what is right for your church and congregation. But if you stick to these general tips, you’ll probably start to see some traction when it comes to giving.

What’s next?

Most people don’t love talking about money in church. But it’s a necessary and vital part of your church. And maximizing your efforts when it comes to donation letters will help make those conversations more comfortable. So what do you do next to put this into effect?

  • Customize these letters: Take the samples above and make them work for your church. Personalize the content. Remove the stuff that doesn’t sound genuine and add in stuff that does. Remember that these are just a starting point.
  • Create some systems: Develop processes that make it easy for you to replicate sending donation letters. Use a letter template that allows you to drop in names and details. Then develop guidelines for when these letters will be sent out.
  • Empower a champion: Find out who is going to be responsible for making these letters happen. Rather than thinking of this as adding more work to their plate, think about how you can elevate their work. This could be a staff member, or a volunteer.
  • Start sending: All of this will be for nothing if you don’t actually send out the letters. Take the time to get it right and get them into the hands of your church donors.

And if you’re looking for ways to grow your church’s giving capacity, Tithely can help.

We provide several different ways your church members can support your church financially—from online giving, text to give solutions, and giving kiosks.

Tithely’s systems make it as easy as possible for people to give to your church. Now all you need to start doing is generating a culture of gratitude. There’s nothing standing in your way. Go unleash generosity in your church.

How does your church use donation letters to spread generosity? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Editor's Note: This is a guest post from Robert Carnes. Robert is a writer and storyteller. He's the author of The Original Storyteller: Become a Better Storyteller in 30 Days. A former church communicator and nonprofit marketer, Robert works as a managing editor for Orange in Atlanta.

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How to Impress New Visitors with Your Church Welcome Speech