Whether we speak at all to visitors, and what we say to them, will depend upon our level
of spiritual maturity, and the extent to which we realize the tremendous opportunity which is ours
when people visit our services. Some of our members will not say anything, because they are
consumed with their own routines, their own comfort zones. Some will not speak to the visitors
because they have some important duty which they think supersedes the need to reach out to the
lost. Some will remain silent because they are shy and timid, or because they are uncomfortable
speaking to strangers. Some are cliquish, and cannot get away from their friends long enough to
recognize that there are newcomers in our midst. Some of our people will not speak because they
are running late themselves, and have no time before services, and some will hurry away as soon
as the closing prayer is said, so there is no time after services either.
When was the last time that you went up to a visitor at our services, and introduced
yourself? Maybe took the time to find out a little about them, including the fact that they live fairly
close to the church building, have a family, and are looking for a “church home.” When was the
last time you invited a stranger to sit beside you during Bible class or worship, or offered to show
them where the classrooms for their children are located? Have you ever invited one of them out
to a restaurant after services, or took the time to visit with them until they felt like they had made
a new friend? Have any first-time visitors returned to our services because of you?
When we begin to seriously contemplate the condition of our American culture, the serious
moral decline of the communities in which we live, and the rapid departure of our people from the
teaching of God’s word, we can get a sense of the urgency of speaking to visitors. We can come to
recognize that the only hope for our world, and the serious problems we face, is Jesus Christ, and
that we need to get serious about soul winning.
What to say to a visitor is a question you can answer if you will put yourself in their place.
Imagine yourself alone, walking into a church building into which you have never entered, a crowd
of people who are total strangers to you. You are looking, you are searching for spiritual answers
to the problems in your life. Maybe you are going through a divorce, or serious family crisis.
Maybe you are experiencing physical illness. Maybe you are simply seeking the church you have
been reading about in your own Bible.
One thing visitors desperately need is friendliness and hospitality. They need people to smile
at them and notice them. They need us to ask their name, and then remember it. They need to feel
wanted and important, not ignored or embarrassed. They need orientation – someone to show them
where they should go and sit, when classes begin, where the restroom are, what to do in worship,
The thing to say to visitors is the thing you would want someone to say to you. Tell them
you are glad they are here, that you are happy to meet them. Show interest in them, rather than
expecting them to ask intelligent questions, or come up to you. If they have a family, especially
including children, show interest in their children. Ask them how old they are, and be prepared to
tell them about the marvelous Bible classes available for them. Be prepared to tell them what is
being studied in the various adult classes. Be ready to talk up the congregation, the preacher, the
leadership, the other members. Give them, right off the bat, some compelling reasons why they
are in the right place.
If you are shy, or find it hard to speak to strangers, remember that it is not so important
exactly what you say, but the fact that you notice them, and say anything at all. Friendliness
trumps articulate word choice. You can tell them your name, but it’s not important that they
remember your name at first. The important thing is that when they go back home, they say to
themselves, “Wow! That was a friendly group of people. I really felt at home there. I want to go
back.” What we say to visitors says a lot about us. It speaks to our own insecurities, and spiritual
awareness. It reflects our own appreciation for the Lord’s church.
-by Robert C. Veil, Jr.