Addressing people assembled in the church is far different from those at any other social gathering. Delivering the welcome speech is particularly difficult, since you have to set the tone for what is to follow. A welcome speech is the first glimpse of the entire program for the audience, hence the success of the entire function greatly depends upon the success of a welcome speech.
Identifying the mood of your audience and striking the right cord, are the two things one must remember while delivering a church welcome speech. You need a fair amount of practice and preparation to successfully deliver a church welcome address speech.
Church Welcome Speech Ideas
Occasional welcome speeches are different from the service speeches on Sunday. You have to deliver the speech as per the type of occasion. Sometimes, a gathering may be called to celebrate a birth in the family, whereas, sometimes a service may be called to lament the death of a fellow church member. Oftentimes, the gathering may be called to celebrate an event or festival, or even parties like a potluck. Needless to say, you have to adopt a different tone for your speech according to the occasion.
Always find a unique and warm way to greet your audience. Avoid clichéd welcome speeches that begin with, 'I welcome you on behalf of..', since you are welcoming someone that needs an introduction, and not doing it for them (unless requested by the priest, in which case you shouldn't ideally reveal this bit, out of courtesy). Instead go for something that truly shows how glad you are to welcome your church members. 'I am glad to welcome you all' or 'We have all been eagerly waiting for this gathering', can be good opening statements. The whole emphasis should be on communicating your joy and welcoming your guests without actually saying it, although sometimes putting emotions into a statement can invoke feelings of appreciation from your audience.
Set the Tone
Once you greet your audience appropriately, the next step is to set the tone for the rest of the program. You should strike an emotional connection with your audience by relating to their joy or grief. Gently set the tone for the rest of the program by briefing your audience regarding what is to follow. This is the reason you cannot afford to make a boring welcome speech, as people might anticipate the following program to be equally boring.
Once you are done with the drafting of your speech you should start memorizing it. It is alright to carry notes while delivering long speeches, but since church welcome speeches are likely to be brief, it would be better to memorize them. Memorizing the speech allows you to coordinate your speech and gestures and also helps you to modulate your voice. In case you find this hard to do, or are worried you may falter midway through the speech, you can occasionally look down at your notes but make eye contact with your listeners every once in a while.
Sample Church Welcome Speech
Welcome Speech for a Priest
"Good morning (or evening), my dear friends and members of the congregation. I am happy to see all of you on this glorious Sunday morning (or evening). A hearty warm welcome to all as we come together as one, in pray and worship. Today, we will speak of how Jesus created a lasting impression on those who knew him, as a little boy of 12 (describe sermon summary in short). While he may have been regarded as someone too young to take seriously, his profound teachings gripped listeners nonetheless. We will learn today how to listen to our children, because no matter how little they are, they will always have something worth hearing out. Let us begin, by reciting the 'I confess' (name of opening prayer)."
Welcome Speech for Member of the Congregation
"Good morning, brothers, sisters, and children. Today we have a very special guest that will partake in the mass' proceedings, whom we welcome wholeheartedly. He has traveled from a far away city (include this bit to emphasize the visiting priest's importance), to grace us with his presence and share in celebration, the feast of Mother Mary (mention the feast/occasion, if any). Our most heartfelt blessings and prayers go out to him, and we hope to see him again at our humbled church. Please join me and give a warm welcome to, Father Dominic Pinasco (mention name of priest)."
A church welcome speech isn't hard to put together if you know what to say, while keeping it short and simple. Do remember, practice makes perfect. Stand in front of a mirror while rehearsing your speech, for those who haven't done this kind of thing before. It can be unnerving to step in front of an audience, especially if you're a new priest or a member of the congregation. Over time, you'll be able to give speeches articulately and with great finesse.