Clutching coffee like a life preserver

Group 236

Submitted by the Rev. Phil Hirsch

“I just joined a new church and I am struggling to fit in,” commented a reader who liked “7 tips for keeping new church members,” a post to the Women of the ELCA’s blog.* “Hope people read this.”


Many people in the metro D.C. area may enter your building for the first time this Christmas season. The synod is running this ad as one way to extend an invitation.

“These are good tips!” agrees the Rev. Phil Hirsch of the synod staff. With the potential for new people in your building at Christmas time – described as sometimes “clutching a cup of coffee like a life preserver” – Pr. Hirsch wanted us to pass the author’s insights along. “We should keep an eye toward Christmas visitors.”

The seven tips briefly expanded upon in the post are:

  1. Speak a heartfelt hello to help diffuse an intimidating first visit.
  2. Take a moment to hear something about the person.
  3. Use open-ended but non-invasive conversation starters.
  4. Help people get involved.
  5. Guide families with children to what’s around (instead of just pointing).
  6. Connect people with similar interests.
  7. “Start slow and see how it goes.”

Our synod has placed an ad in the Washington Post on Christmas Eve Day and in the Express, their free daily distributed on public transit, on the Tuesday before. However someone finds your congregation, let’s do our best to genuinely engage our visitors.

* “7 tips for keeping new church members” by Kathy Haueisen posted to the Women of the ELCA blog (12/12/16)