10 Ways to Make a New Kid Welcome at Church

Children face a lot of fears. Some are afraid of the dark while others are afraid of trying new foods. Childhood fears are varied and diverse except for one common fear that has plagued childhood for generations, the fear of embarrassment. Let’s face it. It’s an embarrassing moment entering a room full of people for the first time. If you are a child you kind of feel like Alice in Wonderland. “How did I get here?” “Why am I here?” “Where’s the door?” Entering a new place can cause even extroverted kids to take a step back. What’s a children’s pastor to do? Some kids need more than a hug or a smile. Do your kids a favor and take the fear of the unknown out of their children’s church experience. Here are 10 ways to make a kid welcome.

1. Name Your Child

When a child is first greeted repeat the child’s name back to them. Then in the initial conversation with them use the child’s name several times. Some ministries use name tags to help identify everyone. If you choose to do this, have everyone wear a name tag. That includes regular kids, teachers and new kids. New kids aren’t looking for ways to be set apart. Introduce the child to helpers and teachers. Pulling a child in front of a room of full of children and asking them to say their name is a no-no too. It’s better to just give a general ‘shout out’ to all the new kids that came today during the service.

2. Snap!

At the welcoming table or in the welcoming area it is a fun idea to snap a picture of an incoming new kid. After the initial greeting, guide your visitor to a particular spot like in front of your church logo and ask them to take a picture with you. Have a volunteer or helper snap the photo. Send home the picture with your visitor and tell them to hang it up on the refrigerator or in their room. Write you name and contact number on the back of the picture. Kids will feel welcome and special. Don’t be surprised if they call.

3. Goodie Bag

Never underestimate the power of a goodie bag. After greeting time and photographs give kids a fun filled goodie bag. It should have inspirational novelties inside like a cross note pad and Jesus loves me pencils. Oriental Trading has some inexpensive toys you can buy that will last forever. Make the new kids goodie bag different than the one you hand out to regulars. It should be special and make them feel special.

4. Team Up

Children’s pastors have to meet and greet the children. But at some point the service has to start. Unless you want to get swamped with bathroom requests, hugs and questions you’ll need an assignment team. At the welcome desk, assign the child to a volunteer or helper. This helper’s job is to take the child on a tour of the facility, introduce him or her to everyone and lead them through the service. The assignment team is an important job. They can be older kids who make great examples, teenagers or even grown ups. Having a constant companion with them during this new experience will make new kids feel welcome.

5. Music, Music

While we all want to teach our kids variety and expose them to different types of praise and worship, there are times you should stick with what’s familiar. During start up times, intermissions or during some of the worship, use songs kids know. Comfortable music playing in the background will relax nervous kids. When bringing in new music during praise and worship we suggest changing one song a Sunday. A really great tip is to change the music once a quarter. Kids just love repetition. It makes new kids welcome when they know the music that’s playing every time they come.

6. Food and Fellowship

Jesus knew it. Food and fellowship work hand in hand in building a church. Have a time during your service, maybe towards the end that you share some Goldfish crackers and a juice box. Food makes kids feel welcome.

7. One on One

In order to build relationships with children you have to go beyond the Sunday service. You need one on one time with new kids. Ask kids these questions when they first begin attending. “What’s your favorite snack?” “What’s your favorite game?” Call ahead and talk to parents. Show up to visit your new kids at the parent approved time and spend some one on one time with them. Play their favorite game and bring their favorite snack. Building a strong church means getting out of our comfort zones and meeting the new kids in their world!

8. The Tour

This was mentioned earlier but bears repeating. Give new kids a tour of the entire facility. They should know where the bathrooms are in the main sanctuary and in the kid’s church. Show them where the snacks are kept, the games are played and where the worship occurs.

9. Kid Friendly Lessons

Now that the new kid had has ventured into your ministry, minister the gospel to them on their level. Use materials that are new kid friendly. Avoid a lot of complicated jargon that only churched kids understand. If you have to, break down your curriculum into better ‘street’ language. Nothing rude or distasteful of course. Just make it plain and simple. New kids and regular kids will love you for it.

10. Hug Kids

Is your new kid a hugger? Then give them a hug! Here’s a simple test. Touch your new child on the shoulder gently when talking to them. If they draw away then they aren’t ready for a hug or physical touch. These kids may take an extra bit of time to warm up to you. Hug the kids who want hugs. Tell kids openly you love them. Hugs make new kids welcome. And they will come back for more.

How Do You Welcome Kids To Church?

Leave a comment below to share you ideas for making children feel welcome at church. What practical ideas have worked in your ministry?


Comments

  1. Carrie Wallestad says

    Having something a visitor makes that they can come again and work on is a great way to make kids feel welcomed back to kids’ church. We make a worship journal for each child. As children come into our class they write or color in the books something they are thankful for and something they like about God. We have found even unchurched kiddos enjoy this activity (and we are in Mongolia where unchurched means just that). The kids get to share what they wrote or drew with each other which helps them to connect, and then the books stay with us until the next week. So any time a child returns we have his or her book with their name on it, and they know it will always be there (until it is full at which point they get a new one and take the full journal home). The worship journals serve many purposes, and making sure a child always feels welcomed back is a strong side purpose!

  2. Wilda says

    Always get down to eye level with them, hugs and smiles, works wonders for me. Plus during the hour or we spend toguether I always tell them I love them. I get smiles back or an I love you too!.

  3. says

    Very great ideas. We welcome our first timers with a shake hand and a special welcome song and even a hug at times.
    Thank you for your ideas.

  4. Samantha says

    I can’t wait to start the year again with kiddos!! =)
    Thank you very much!! God Bless U

  5. Alice Mpete says

    Great ideas thanks. Basically what i do is greet the child and the parents and i introduce myself to the child/en. I then ask the parents if the child wiill be coming more often to the sunday so that i can put them on the register. I introduce the kid/s the rest of the sunday school kids and ask them to welcome the kid /s by greeting her/him. i involve the new kid in the lessons and activities by calling on his name

  6. Sara Beers says

    We use the standard meet and great when a new kid(s) come in and also add a neat gift idea that works beautifully that all the regular kids get excited over. We give the new kids the small wrapped packets of 5 ‘Now and Laters’ and then we have all the regular kids stand up and shout why we give them to the new kids “Because we’re glad you’re here NOW and we want you to come back LATER”!!! The new kids are always excited to get candy and it’s a catchy way for them to remember and any excuse for kids to stand up and shout to be involved is always a good thing!!

    • Dia Montgomery says

      I love this idea! I think I will make a little card with the saying and candy on it. Maybe also a message with the church name as well. Thank you for the super idea!

  7. Doreen says

    We welcome first time kids by giving them a warm welcome clap and this is how we do it: three claps, three foot stomps then the greetings “Welcome to Sunday School Carla”(with hands in welcoming actions) The new kids usually accept the welcome with big smile ;-)

  8. says

    Thanks for your good ideas and input. We have also posted this one on Kidology.org blog watch in the forum. Thanks again truly enjoy the ideas.

  9. dora says

    The way I greet new children at church is I just go straight up to them and tell them hi and welcome them to childrens church. I tell them my name and then I greet the parents. I then focus on the new child/ren ( we put name tags on everyone) and lead them to the area where other kids are and introduce them to others. I always tell the children what we are doing and give them the schedule as we go on with the activities. Everyone knows what we are doing not just the regular attendees. I try to involve everyone in our activities when allowed. If a child does not want to participate (especially the new ones) I let them look on and will ask during the activity to see if they are ready to participate or not. When they leave I tell them thank you for coming and hope to see them again. Praise the Lord.

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