Newcomer Hospitality and Belonging: Membership Matters
Welcoming requires attention, intentionality and practice!
"We had greeters at the doors, a welcome table for visitors, nametags, packets we mailed to people and lots of activities for adults and children. Extroverts can pretty easily find their way into our community. But when we heard from two different visitors that no one talked to them when they came, we realized we weren't as friendly as we thought. It's no comfort to know, from visiting other UU [Unitarian Universalist] churches, that we're not alone in finding this a challenge."
—Sharon Blevins, All Souls Unitarian Church in Kansas City.
Tools for Assessment and Planning
At the Beginning
As an individual who cares about providing hospitality to guests and a sense of belonging to newcomers, you probably have insight into the way your congregation welcomes and includes new people. Completing the Before You Begin tool will help indicate who from your congregation would participate in a larger conversation. It will give you a starting place with which to continue the conversation with other members of your committee or congregation.
Assessing Your Hospitality
After completion of the Before You Begin questionnaire, invite leaders in your congregation who have responsibilities that interface with new members to take time to use our tool, Assessing Your Hospitality (Word) (PDF).
You may be surprised at the disparity of answers. Or everyone may answer all questions with a resounding "yes!" Perhaps you have many new members but they slip out the back door within a few months. Perhaps you have many initial visitors but they don't come back or don't join.
How well are guests really are welcomed and new members included? The Assessing Your Hospitality process encourages both intentionality and honesty.
Totally confused and not sure where to go for help? Contact us either at your District Office or at growthresources [at] uua [dot] org (Subject: Hospitality Assessment).