We all want visiting families to feel welcome in our churches and ministries. But, like anything else, it’s not going to happen all by itself—it takes intentionality and effort on our behalf. As we welcome new families in our children’s ministries, it’s incredibly important that we do it well.

Welcoming Families in Children’s Ministry

Here are some ideas to help you make sure families are welcomed well!

1. Signage Makes Things Easy and Gives Clarity

Signage feels simple, but welcoming new families should begin before they even walk through the doors of the church! It’s important to post helpful signage in the parking lot, the entryway, and so on. Make it easy for new families to know exactly where to go.

There are many online—and sometimes local too—options to have custom signs created.

You see, many first-time visitors would rather not ask where things are, so a good test of signage is if someone could find all the kids’ areas without speaking with anyone. Although we also want to make families feel welcome with our friendliness and personal warmth, we want them to be comfortable finding their own way around.

Clear directions to children’s ministry rooms should be available not only from the parking lot, but also in these areas:

  • the main church lobby,
  • other non-children’s ministry primary areas (such as main fellowship areas, adult class areas, etc.),
  • any hallways leading to the children’s ministry areas, and
  • within the children’s ministry areas.

Signage goes a long way toward good first impressions.

2. Smiles Mean More than You Know

Smiles? Yes, smiles!

Smiles go a long, long way to making families feel comfortable. The look on your face can communicate that you want people to be there … or that you don’t. Smiling should be a ministry-wide value that you train your team to do.

And while it seems simple, it’s the warmth of a smile that may bring people back to your church. We need to be welcoming and loving to each person who walks through the doors of our churches.

3. Information that Welcomes Families in Your Children’s Ministry

Typically, when introverts go somewhere new, they like to have access to an overview of what to expect. Having an inviting and easy-to-navigate website in addition to flyers, brochures, bulletins, or another type of printed piece is so important for the first impressions of visitors. You can make them available at the doors, in the main church lobby, in gathering areas, and in the children’s ministry areas.

And make sure they are well made! Even if you keep it simple, quality speaks of care as you are welcoming families in children’s ministry.

Extroverts may prefer to engage in conversation when arriving somewhere new. So, also have friendly greeters who know all about your children’s ministry and can pass along information to visitors and new families.

Again, smiling is key! And having the right information is important too. We don’t want to unintentionally cause frustration by not having the answers to questions visitors and new families need.

So, as children’s ministry leaders, it’s important we coordinate with the hospitality team and train them in what they need to know about children’s ministry. Help them know where to send families and make sure they have the tools they need to give out the right information!

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4. Simple Systems Help You Improve

Some ministry leaders set up incognito inspectors to examine their children’s ministries. When doing this, you have someone come in and take a look at your processes and systems to see where you could potentially improve.

For example, maybe the check-in systems aren’t easy or quick. Maybe communication to visitors isn’t clear. It could even be that first-time registration is too long of a process and feels untethered.

Checking your programs against simple practices and other systems can help make your welcoming process so much smoother for new and current families.

Try having someone examine your ministry from the outside (and maybe even from the inside) and make improvements where you can!

Simple systems in your ministry help alleviate stress for you and for families.

5. Follow Up Makes All the Difference

How do you follow up with visiting families? We recommend following up:

  • Quickly: Make sure it happens the week after they attend. Let them know how great it was to have them in your ministry. And be sure to make it personal. Remember their names!
  • With Helpful Information: Make sure your communication shares the vision for your children’s ministry and make sure they have clear avenues to get any of their questions answered!
  • By Being Welcoming, Not Pushy: Let families know you loved having them, but don’t make assumptions about their future engagement. Love them where they are!
  • More Than Once: Kids should be welcomed and valued—and parents should too—and multiple contacts should be made over time.

One great option for communicating with families is to create branded postcards that align with your children’s ministry to send to the kids. Personalized mail is exciting for any child!

Other great options are phone calls, texts, emails, and social media. Maybe even ask families what their communication preferences are and meet them where they are most comfortable.