Engaging Invite - Welcome - Connect Workshop

Engaging Invite - Welcome - Connect Workshop

On Saturday, February 17th, our diocese hosted an exciting Invite - Welcome - Connect workshop with creator Mary Parmer at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Oklahoma City. We had an enormous crowd of over 200 people in attendance!

This workshop is part of an exciting new initiative in our diocese to help our congregations bring new people into the Church. This transformational ministry is designed to help reach out in invitation to others, welcome those who arrive, and help them get connected in our congregations!

The event began with a plenary from Mary Parmer, explaining the overarching philosophy of Invite - Welcome - Connect and how it can be used in all congregations regardless of size, location, or resources. The group then moved into the “Invite” section of the program, concentrating on how we can move outside the doors of our churches to invite others to experience the transformation we have enjoyed through our relationships with Christ and in our churches. Mary reviewed some specific examples of how to engage the community outside our congregations’ doors, such as: Ashes-to-Go, Invitation Cards, and Laundry Love.

After lunch, Mary talked about the “Welcome” section of the program – how do we make our churches as welcoming as they possibly can be? Ways to welcome people include: having friendly greeters (separate from the ushers), clear signage, warm hospitality, clean and inviting facilities, newcomer welcome gifts, and many more.

The final section of the program was “Connect” – how do we help people answer the longings that brought them to the church in the first place, by connecting more deeply with the life of faith? Ideas include: intentional systems for following up on guests, newcomer classes, spiritual gifts inventories, clear information about ministry involvement opportunities, and liturgical affirmation and recognition of new members.

After each presentation, participants broke into small groups with their congregation to discuss ideas on how to utilize this great information for inviting, welcoming, and connecting with others. Each congregation was invited to generate creative ideas to improve their church’s inviting, welcoming, and connecting ministries.

To follow up on the creative ideas each congregation generated, and to help them make concrete plans for implementing these ideas, our diocese is creating a coaching network. Coaches gathered together for further training after the initial workshop was complete. If your congregation sent participants to the workshop and would like a coach, please contact Canon Susan Brown Snook at CanonSusan@epiok.org.
At the end of the day, each congregation present was invited to share one idea they want to put into practice immediately.

These ideas included:

  • Use TVs in parish hall as welcome and connection tools to display announcements of church activities
    Train greeters
  • Create invitation cards for members to hand out to friend
  • Hold an event called “Beer and Beatitudes”
  • Improve the invitation process
  • Have printed name tags
  • Hold a neighborhood campout in church’s outdoor space
  • Have an intergenerational Vacation Bible School for the neighborhood
  • Hold a spiritual gifts class
  • Train people in how to ask inviting questions to newcomers
  • Make car window stickers
  • Work on invitational skills and have a block party
  • Create invitation cards that say what we believe
  • Develop a welcome center
  • Have a Taste of Faith event with local restaurants
  • Develop a mentoring program to help people connect
  • Learn more about our own families’ faith journeys and educate members on how to talk with newcomers
  • Have spiritual gifts classes, Story Groups and dinner groups
  • Get more intentional with name tags
  • Small groups to help people connect – dinner groups for 4 months in a row with the same group
  • Focus on welcome table with information – encourage children to visit with children’s gift bags
  • Engage with newcomers after the service
  • Create flyer – get information about the best way to contact people
  • Reach out to local university with special potluck to entice them
  • Create a booklet with opportunities for involvement
  • Get youth to mentor adults in social media
  • Connect with each other and kids in the church

That is just a small sample of the many creative ideas that congregations will be putting into practice! We can’t wait to see how our congregations use these new tools to help enhance their ministry! Be sure to share your ministry stories with us!

Invite - Welcome - Connect crosses all social and economic boundaries and explores the ways creativity and relational ministry go hand in hand in effecting culture change. The assessment tools, surveys, checklists, and ministry materials can be adapted based on the interests and needs of each congregation.

For more information on Invite - Welcome - Connect, including checklists, creative ideas, videos, and more, check out their website: //www.invitewelcomeconnect.com.


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