What to Say to a Visitor

What to Say to a Visitor

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.