How do you help people Belong?

April 23, 2024 |

Our 2024 Annual Conference theme is Belong. EPA&GNJ Communications wants to celebrate that theme by inviting churches to tell us, so we can tell others, how they help people—members, nonmembers and guests—feel they Belong. “People go where they are welcome,” says researcher and writer Brene Brown. “They stay where they are valued.”

What creative ideas, tactics and resources do you use and recommend to manifest a church’s spirit of welcome, hospitality and valuing? What do you do to help strangers become friends and help visitors want to return and maybe ultimately become members? Can you share with us stories where those efforts and transitions toward belonging have happened in your church?

We want to publish a series of articles in May, leading up to Annual Conference, about how Greater New Jersey United Methodist churches try to offer “open hearts, open minds, open doors.” Please help us do that. Send us your stories and ideas to

Meanwhile, here are 10 ideas we came up with. Many are tried and true ways to help people feel they belong. Let us know if you’ve used any of these, or if you have others to suggest.

  1. Greet and welcome them from the pulpit during worship.
  2. Urge (and train) members to converse with them, thank them for coming and invite them to return.
  3. Appropriately inquire about their needs and concerns that the church might be able to address.
  4. Ask them to introduce themselves, or have ushers or members greet and introduce them.
  5. Invite them to a weekly post-worship reception for food and fellowship with members.
  6. Have the congregation sing a rehearsed song of greeting to visitors.
  7. Send them follow-up notes, cards and/or modest gifts—i.e., some church swag.
  8. Encourage members to personally invite them to upcoming church events or activities.
  9. Take a smartphone selfie with them and send it to them with a greeting via text or email.
  10. Give them a welcome brochure or leaflet containing a greeting, friendly photos, and church ministry and contact information.

We’re also eager to receive, adapt and publish writings about this theme, Belong, perhaps from sermons, pastoral letters, church newsletter articles, or wherever. Again, write to us at