In my decade-long journey with Fishhook, I've had the privilege of visiting numerous churches across various communities.

Through these experiences, I've witnessed firsthand the profound impact that hospitality can have on first-time guests. It's not just about making them feel welcomed; it's about creating an environment where they feel comfortable, valued and eager to return.

The Value of Hospitality

Hospitality isn't just a nicety — it's a crucial aspect of church ministry, rooted in the very essence of Christ’s love and community. Hebrews 13:2 reminds us, "Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it." 

Clarity + Connection

One of the most important aspects of hospitality is building relationships with people and giving them next steps to connect. Providing clear next steps for involvement, whether it’s attending a newcomer's event or simply connecting with a church member over coffee, can significantly impact a guest's journey toward deeper engagement.

By prioritizing relational connection and providing clear pathways for involvement, churches can truly embody Christ's love and foster a sense of belonging for all who enter their doors. 

Location, Location, Location

Making sure there is a place for guests to connect helps make this easy and comfortable. It’s great if there is a connection desk or area in your lobby that people can visit and connect with people from your church. It’s important to staff this area with people from your church that know your church and the people who attend your church well. They will naturally help make connections and allow your guests to feel at ease. 

Gifts That Really Say, "Welcome"

When it comes to welcoming first-time guests, one of the questions I get asked from church leaders is, "What makes a good welcome gift?" There's no one-size-fits-all answer, but I do believe that a thoughtful welcome gift should go beyond a small trinket (i.e. a pen or a basic coffee mug that will get stored in the back of a cabinet, etc.). But if you are sharing a gift with a guest, it should offer a glimpse into what your church is all about and how it can meet the diverse needs of individuals and families at different stages of life.

Rather than overwhelming guests with an abundance of information, a well-crafted welcome gift should strike a balance — informative yet concise, inviting yet not imposing.

For example, a well designed, yet simple, welcome print piece highlighting key ministries and programs can provide valuable insights without overwhelming newcomers. Or a QR code given that points someone to more information online can be very convenient. 

Beyond informational materials or a gift, the true essence of hospitality lies in the personal touch — the thoughtful gestures that help guests feel truly cared for and valued.

I'll never forget the church that welcomed me with a freshly baked loaf of banana bread. Or a church that gave me a gift card to the local coffee shop. These are simple yet kind gestures that made my family and me feel genuinely welcomed and appreciated. Or the time that each of my kids were handed a branded teddy bear. As a parent, I loved that it wasn’t just the adults that were thought of but they took the time to connect with my kids too.

Given the folks you hope to connect with, you might bless them with a branded travel mug (that’s nice enough that people will want to use), a stylish notebook with uplifting messages, or a pair of fun socks adorned with encouraging phrases (a nod to the Fishhook swag). The key is to offer gifts that reflect the church's values while making guests feel cherished and remembered.

Bring Authenticity

The most significant point is that there are plenty of creative ways to extend hospitality with sincerity and warmth. Look for ways to bring unexpected delight, connect with all ages and provide support and encouragement.

At Fishhook, we understand the importance of intentional hospitality in church ministry. That's why we're committed to helping churches create welcoming environments where every guest feels valued, supported and inspired both in person and online.

Together, let's embrace the transformative power of hospitality and extend God's love to all who walk through our doors.