Attending a conference in the Fall of 2021 I met the main speaker, Bob Russell. After a delightful conversation, I shared the purpose and services of Welcoming Touch Ministries, Incorporated. Bob, handed me a personally signed copy of his book (After 50 years of Ministry; 7 things I’d do Differently and 7 things I’d do the Same, Moody Publishing, 2016) and added the following hand written note:
In appreciation of your much needed ministry.
Preach the word! (I Corinthians 15:58).
Bob Russell Ministries
Greetings in Jesus’ life-changing name.
I want to affirm the Welcoming Touch Ministry and the leadership of C. Ward Utterback. This ministry has brought new life into our greeters and imparted a vision that goes beyond just your welcoming team. It impacts the whole church and encourages a welcoming atmosphere in your congregation for the guests God sends your way. I endorse and would encourage any church to consider hosting all facets [services] of the Welcoming Touch Ministries. Ward is a person of integrity and professional. He is an excellent communicator and keeps you informed each step of the way. Jesus is central to all he does which is what we want as we seek to serve the people God sends us.
Sincerely in Christ;
Pastor David Bauman
Living Hope Church
Baraboo, WI. 53913
Our church had struggled to retain our guests. We had dozens of people visit our church each year but only a handful would come back. That’s why we invited Welcoming Touch Ministries to come and help us do a better job of being a welcoming church. It made a huge impact.
Ward came and did a secret visit first [October 2013]. A couple months later we had him do the seminar for our leaders. Then finally we brought him in for a Sunday sermon where all our people could catch the vision. All three experiences were informative and helpful. We started applying the principles and methods Ward taught us and our church started becoming a more welcoming church. More and more of the guests God sent our way started coming came back and getting involved. God even used Ward and Welcoming Touch Ministries to help us grow beyond the capacity of our sanctuary. As a result, we had to expand the sanctuary and remodel the church.
Having been through the Welcoming Touch Ministries [training], we were well equipped to know how best to redesign our facility. We wanted to make key adjustments to the building so that it could be a tool that would help us welcome more guests. And that is exactly what we did. Many of the changes we made to the building were done in order to make the facility more welcoming. It has made an incredibly positive impact. Had we [not] had Welcome Touch Ministries come to our church, we most likely would have missed making the key facility changes that have helped so much.
By discipling our people to be welcoming with the help of Welcoming Touch Ministries and by designing the facility changes to aid in the process, we are expecting even more growth. The future of Roseville Baptist Church is bright and we are grateful for how God has used Welcoming Touch Ministries in the process. If you want your church to be a welcoming church, I recommend you reach out to Welcoming Touch Ministries. If your church is wanting to do a better job of developing relationships and showing love to those God sends your way, then you ought to ask Ward Utterback to come and show you how. You will be so glad you did.
Because of Jesus,
Pastor Jackie Hill
Roseville Baptist Church
Good morning! Thank you for the email and [seminar] invoice.
… Hopefully, we will see you this summer and get a chance to show you how we implemented the ideas born of your presentation. The material you shared during the seminar [Christian Organization Welcoming Seminar or ChOWS] is so foundational to our ability to share the Gospel. If people don’t feel welcomed, they may not be willing to fully engage in the message of the Good News. Thank you for what you are doing and I know that any church or camp will benefit from your ministry.
Thank you for your prayers and may the Lord bless your personal efforts in the years to come!
Director, Northern Lakes Partners
Crescent Lake Bible Camp
I want to thank you for your ministry to our churches in the Southern Wisconsin Baptist Association since 2013. You have provided excellent service in the variety of contexts along with honest and candid feedback which has impacted many churches.
You have given your heart and your time for a long time and please know we are deeply appreciative of your labor in the Lord. Your visits to the church, feedback with leadership, seminars, sermons and customized welcoming manuals for individual churches is invaluable. Know you are a great asset to our association and the Kingdom of God.
If there is any way I can be of recommendation to you please let me know. May the Lord richly bless you for your passion to help churches become stronger, more relational and for your personal walk with the Lord as you minister out of your over flow.
Dr. Mark Millman
Wisconsin Church Planting Catalyst
North American Mission Board
From the first time we talked with Ward about the possibilities and, more importantly, the importance of having a vibrant welcoming culture at our church, we were convinced that his foundationally biblical approach was the direction we needed. We invited Ward to begin the transformational process at First Pres-Joliet with the Unannounced Visit in October 2017, Sermons in January 2018, and Welcoming Seminar in March through the conclusion of a completed Welcoming Ministry Manual in September 2018.
The journey to date has been exciting as we have begun implementing the recommendations contained in our individualized Welcoming Ministry Manual. While so many today want immediate and tangible results like a 100-fold increase in worship attendance, we recognize that this is a journey to a new culture for our church and it will take time. What is noticeable already is the number of individuals who have committed to being Connection Center Ambassadors and planting the seeds of a welcoming culture every Sunday!
We would recommend Welcoming Touch Ministries for other churches who sense the need to nurture a welcoming culture. Most importantly, we believe Ward Utterback brings a passion for Jesus and the exuding warmth to carry his passion in an exciting way to others. Ward believes in his heart that his ministry is not simply about getting first time guests to become members of a church. A welcoming culture is at the very heart of the Gospel message and the true first priority of any church.
Church Growth Council
First Presbyterian Church of Joliet
Here at City Church, Madison, Wisconsin, we have a ministry entitled “FrontLine.” This ministry consists of volunteers who are willing to be greeters, ushers, man our Welcoming Table and our Information Center. They are the first ones to extend a welcoming hand and warm smile to all those who come through our doors.
As is true with any position, it is good to have ongoing training to hone our skills and maintain our enthusiasm and passion for what we are doing. That is where Welcoming Touch Ministries, Inc. comes in. We have had C. Ward Utterback come twice to share with our FrontLine volunteers, and he has done an excellent job of reminding us that everyone we meet on Sunday is a guest of Jesus– He invited them. Ward then poses the
though-provoking question, “How are you going to treat Jesus’s guest?”
The material that Ward covers is excellent, some things we probably already know but need to brush up on, and he also suggests new and creative ideas of how to do things better. We have instituted several suggestions and they are working great! Ward is personable, warm, friendly and very easy to work with. He lays out clearly what his expectations are, but is very flexible if things need to be tweaked to accommodate your facility and goals.
If you are truly committed to making people feel welcome, then we would highly recommend that you invite Welcoming Touch Ministries, Inc. and C. Ward Utterback to do a presentation [Welcoming Seminar] for those who are serving on your welcoming team. You will be blessed!
Nancy Van Maren
FrontLine Ministries Coordinator
I first encountered Ward Utterback of Welcoming Touch Ministries, Inc. as we were both presenters at the Annual Kingdom Growth conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I was so impressed by his sincere upfront challenge to congregations creating a greater environment of hospitality that I was led to invite this splendid ministry (and man) to our church-wide leadership retreat.
My expectations were met and exceeded. We now greet guests not visitors. Our Security Team, Greeters, and Ushers ministries have a heightened awareness of their critical role in being the first contacts for all who attend our services and events. Our historically African American but rapidly becoming more multicultural congregation has been known to be a friendly fellowship has moved to a new level of genuine openness of all who attend.
I recommend this God-ordained ministry with much enthusiasm. This presentation is well-suited for congregations of all sizes, backgrounds, denominational affiliations, who affirm Jesus Christ as the only way to salvation.
Dr. T. Vaughn Walker
First Gethsemane Baptist Church
Ward’s ministry to churches is exceptional. He has a heart for people and he showed that through the whole time that he worked with our church to [provide an Unannounced Visitor Service with an evaluation report] and then develop a Welcoming Ministry Manual. He spent hours meticulously going over the needs of our church. He counseled our leadership to help us develop a more welcoming church culture.
Our church was in a time of transition as our Senior Pastor had left for a new pastorate. The Welcoming Ministry Manual, along with Ward’s regular counsel, was what our Greeters [Welcomers] and Ushers Ministry needed during a time of transition to help us stay strong in the area of Welcoming while people were concerned about the church staying strong. After we handed out our Welcoming Ministry Manual to our large team, we had a working document that shows everything that needs to be known for a welcoming team member. Our church attendance went up and we had a joyous atmosphere in our congregation! The people were staying because they felt cared for. The [Welcomers] could tell that there was a structure to the way we do welcoming because there was a [written] handbook provided by an expert (Ward Utterback). We are very thankful that Ward helped our church be the best that it can be!
Pastor Scott Shaw
Connections Ministry Leader
Cornerstone Community Church
We are writing to thank you for the valuable information you provided to LakeView Church from your “Unannounced Visit” [dated January 17, 2016]. Your keen observation skills helped us see LakeView through the eyes of a first-time guest The fifteen page report you sent us detailed everything guests might experience when deciding to visit our church for the first time.
We carefully reviewed the information in your report and implemented many of your suggestions. These changes have helped improve our ability to connect with visitors. An interesting side-effect of your visit was that it sparked other ideas about how LakeView could become a more welcoming environment. This shift in our culture has made us open to try new things and continually evaluate the ideas raised by people at LakeView to determine which can help us enhance the visitor experience.
Since this recommendation might be seen by other people, we are listing information from your report that was very helpful to us.
Changes to improve the navigation of our website and fix information that was out of date.
Improvement signage both outside and inside our church to guide visitors.
Update Welcoming Team name tags to be easier to read.
Enhance visibility of our Guest Services desk for people entering the front doors.
Better Access to the Fireside Room where we serve coffee and tea.
Effectiveness of our Welcome Team before the service in greeting people and what we might do to improve the experience. This includes engaging visitors more proactively.
Sunday morning program changes to help clarify the information being provided.
Recognize a general need to improve the welcoming culture at LakeView, with intentionality in action from the pulpit to the pew. This includes the congregation engaging visitors during our “Greeting Time” and after the service ends.
You recommended applying the 10-ft. rule for people to apply when deciding if they should engage an unknown person.
Amy Elsner, Brian Moyer and Dave Wilson
Welcome Team Leaders