When I converted to the church in 2008, I felt so welcome. Everybody went above and beyond to be friendly to me. I felt overwhelmed with how nice the members were. I was reading the Ensign a few nights ago and came across a part mentioning converts and to be nice to them. I started reflecting on my experience joining the church and how nice everybody was to me. I’ve seen some other people mention that it happened the same for them; the members were all very pleasant. I am glad that is the case for some, but I’ve also noticed
that some members didn’t have that same experience. They had members that would simply introduce themselves and then “forget” that the convert existed. That’s not how it should be! As a convert, here are the things that I enjoyed when I was new and things that will make a convert feel welcome and stay in the Church, besides giving them a calling ;)
Introduce yourself to them
It’s hard learning everybody’s names! It’s also nice to know who is in charge in which department.
Talk to them! An introduction is nice, but a conversation is better.
When somebody introduces themselves it feels nice, but if they never talk to you again after that, it can feel bad. After you make the initial introduction, continue conversations, otherwise it seems like you may have only introduced yourself not to seem rude.
Sit by them in church, or church meetings
It’s nice to have somebody to ask questions if something comes up that a convert is not familiar with (like stories that are specific to the Book of Mormon)
Invite them to lunch
It doesn’t have to be fancy, it could even be fast food, but doing anything outside the church helps build a friendship
If they have children, invite them on a play date
Conversion doesn’t just affect the person who converted. The children of converts struggle just as much as the converts. They are thrust into a new environment where the other children have been for months or years and know the doctrines being taught and the primary songs being sung. It can be overwhelming for the little ones.
Find something in common
Do they hike? Read? whatever it may be, use it to your advantage to get to know them. You will find that you may actually share more in common
Invite them to church activities
Newer members may not know about all of the activities. Let them know what the activities are about and invite them to come
Offer them a ride to church
Things happen, vehicles break down. They may be too nervous to ask for a ride, but if you offer them one they may accept. They may not even know who to ask for a ride if they need one!
Bring them a small gift (cookies, a bookmark, scripture pens, etc.)
It doesn’t have to be anything big, but who doesn’t like gifts? It makes the convert feel like they were thought about and matter.
Call them on the phone
A simple hello, and “how are you coping since the baptism?” is nice to hear.
Be a friend to them!
One of our recent discussions hit home with me. When a convert is investigating the church, their main contact is the missionaries. Once the missionaries leave, they can feel as if they are in a new place, with no one to turn to. Be a friend to them, so when the missionaries are transferred, they have a place to turn!
What have you done to make a convert feel welcome?
If you are a convert yourself, what made you feel welcome?