Latter-day Saint Life

One woman’s incredibly welcoming experience in a new ward—4 tips to help your visitors feel the same

Here are a few suggestions on how to create one of the most welcoming wards in the Church.
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Consider this: when someone new visits your ward, what is their experience like? Are they acknowledged? Are they bombarded? Do they feel comfortable? Do they want to come back next week?

When Latter-day Saint Connie Sokol forgot to pack a dress and wore her only clean hiking pants to a random single adult ward, she was warmly greeted before sacrament meeting by a sign in the foyer.

After the meeting ended, Connie wrote:

“Almost on delightful cue comes the wonderful lady who smiles and taps me on the arm to ask if I’m new and would I like to sit with her in Relief Society.

Then a guy comes over and introduces himself and after the meeting says, ‘If you’re ever back in the area, we’re here.’


Welcoming, wonderful and so warmly connecting. I wanted to email President Nelson and say, ‘It’s working!’

Yes, in different parts of the world it would look slightly different but here in this part, that feeling and familiarity from dedicated members ‘doing the do’ were just what my soul needed.

Thank you, amazing members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for all you do, week in and out, to make Sabbath worship feel like being in His Home.”

As a member of our church, Connie understands the culture and protocol around a sacrament meeting. But for those not of our faith who may be visiting, it’s up to the ward members to set the tone for how they respond when they are joined by a new face.

Here are a few suggestions from Connie’s experience on how to create one of the most welcoming wards in the Church.

  1. Open your eyes. See anyone new? It’s easy to fall into old habits, talk to the same people, and stay in our own social bubbles at church. But you’ll never know if you could positively impact someone’s church experience if you don’t look around the chapel or notice new faces.
  2. Provide a sign with context for what this meeting is. Like the sign that Connie saw, an explanation of what the meeting is, how to act, and an easily accessible digital program can be so helpful in easing any anxieties over what to expect in a sacrament meeting setting.
  3. Help visitors make connections. If you happen to notice a new face alone or looking lost before church, invite them to sit with you or connect them with a friendly member. You might ask if they have any questions about the meeting before it starts or if they’ve had any experiences with church meetings of other faiths. If they have kids, offer to help them find their Primary or Sunday School classes after the meeting.
  4. Treat them like a new friend having a new experience. If it is their first time visiting, you don’t need to pepper them with questions about joining the Church or meeting with the missionaries. There’s a good reason “fellowshipping” is such an important part of helping new converts feel and stay connected to the Church, and the same principles apply in making your ward a welcoming place for new visitors.

Here are a few more ideas for building friendships and fellowshipping at church:

I thought I only wanted friends my age—then older couples invited us into their lives

9 times the Book of Mormon gives stellar relationship advice (that you might’ve never noticed)

How Reyna Aburto changed her approach to people after ‘one of the most awkward moments’ of her life

Delightful advice from a four-year-old on making friends at church

6 tips to inspire participation in Church activities—without causing stress

Ministering: finding friendship and connection outside of your comfort zone

5 simple ways to start making new friends in your ward

3 hurdles that keep us from ministering—and how to get over them

1 question to ask yourself before church that will help you build friendships

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