Recommendations

Welcoming Touch Ministries has served many churches. Below are church recommendations with results where the ministry services were embraced.

First Presbyterian Church of Joliet, IL

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

Joliet, Illinois

City Church

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
City Church
Madison, WI.

1st Gethsemane Baptist

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
Senior Pastor
First Gethsemane Baptist Church
Louisville, KY.

Cornerstone Community

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 develope 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
Marshfield, WI.

LakeView 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.

Sincerely Yours,

Amy Elsner, Brian Moyer and Dave Wilson
Welcome Team Leaders
LakeView Church
Stoughton, WI.

Bethel Baptist Church

I can highly recommend Welcoming Touch Ministries and Ward Utterback to my fellow pastors and churches. Bethel Church had Ward with us two years ago! We still are implementing the many things that we learned and plan to continue! Everyone who visits Bethel mentions how friendly and warm the people were. I am so glad to share something that will help us declare the gospel in a better way!

Sincerely,
Pastor Charlie Martin
Bethel Baptist Church
Bethel, NC.

Windsor United Church

I married into Windsor United Church of Christ (WUCC) in Windsor, Wisconsin 49 years ago. My wife was baptized and confirmed there so we pretty much know every member. Over the years it was noticeable to us that we weren’t growing proportionally to the community. Various things had been tried but nothing seemed to have a lasting impact that was noticeable. So I brought the issue up to a few members and they agreed something needed to be done. The journey with Welcoming Touch Ministries, Incorporated had begun.

I warned people that we soon would find out just how “friendly” WUCC really was. With church leadership approval, Ward [Utterback] and I scheduled an Unannounced Visit service when there was a large youth program guaranteeing most of the congregation would be in attendance. He [Ward] came and sat 2/3rds of the way back on the right hand side of the sanctuary. After the service was over he sat in the chair and not one single person came up to greet him. I was right! It was a real eye opener for the rest of the core group and they were eager to do something about it.

Ward came back (I actually wondered if he would!) and worked with us. He preached a sermon [A Welcoming Church Culture] and held a [Welcoming] Workshop. Both ministry services were very well received. In addition we received a custom written WUCC Welcoming Ministry Manual which will always be a go-to reference. Our Choir Director has taken over the Greeters and many of us continue to show by example how to go up and meet a stranger using the techniques Ward shared with us.

Today the church is more filled each Sunday and we receive many warm comments about how much it means to have somebody stand at the door and be welcomed. We have two umbrella buckets ready to assist people when the weather is wet.

A few weeks before Christmas I noticed a stranger sitting near the back of the sanctuary. I introduced myself to her and encourage two other people to go over and do the same. Other people introduced themselves after the service but she didn’t get up. I went over when the sanctuary was nearly empty and she started weeping. My wife came over and we took her into an office where she felt comfortable. We talked and prayed with her for quite a while. Satan rules a very cruel world. She has been back every Sunday and many people have come up to her, introduced themselves and welcomed her.

One young young couple visited at Thanksgiving as they were “church shopping”. When introducing themselves to the congregation the day they join the church the husband said they came her one time and didn’t need to go [church] shopping anymore!

Other strangers have been welcomed warmly and are starting to return. Welcoming Touch Ministries was the catalyst we needed. The techniques Ward teaches are now such a natural thing we don’t even think about it. It has even allowed men to invite men to men’s group.

I like to think of this program as not being completed. It is the beginning! Thanks Ward!

Dave Norby
Church Member
Windsor United Church of Christ
Windsor, WI.

Calvary Baptist Church

When you come to church every Sunday, it is difficult to see people, facilities and Sunday worship as a guest. We asked Ward [with Welcoming Touch Ministries, Inc.] to come for an “Unannounced Visit” last July so that we could see how someone new to Calvary would see us. During the visit, Ward played the role of a guest perfectly. He assumed nothing and saw much while at the church. He made several pages of observations and included areas where we were doing well and areas that could use improvement. In areas needing improvement, he gave us several good suggestions. As a church, we were able to discuss and then implement changes that helped to make Calvary a more welcoming church. All we needed was a set of “fresh eyes” to make it happen!

In Christ,
Pastor Rod Ankrom
Calvary Baptist Church
Rhinelander, WI.

Bethel Baptist Church

Ward,

I wanted to drop you a note to say how much we appreciate your ministry “Welcoming Touch.” It was so great to meet you in Wisconsin at the camp and to see your beautiful state and hear how God was leading in your life with the vision and dream of serving Churches around the Country. When you came to Bethel Baptist Church in Vilas, N.C. last year to help us in training to be a more welcoming Church, you came by faith. I so appreciate you being willing to come to a smaller Church. When I left First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks in Largo, Florida, I was leaving a Church of 8000 members where I had served for 37 years. We came to Bethel in North Carolina with less than 50 people attending. The Church is 165 years old and in a very remote, rural area. What a transition! We are now in our 8th year and God is blessing “big time”. Your ministry was so helpful and I can’t tell you how impactful that weekend was here at Bethel. Thanks for being so open to reaching out to churches of all sizes! I look forward to meeting up again this September in Wisconsin!

Blessings,
Pastor Charlie Martin
Bethel Baptist Church
Bethel, NC.

Church Planting Catalyst

Dear Church Leader,

I am serving as Interim pastor of a smaller church that had gotten comfortable. They began to realize their need to become a more welcoming and growing church. Sometimes all you need is an outsider to issue the wake-up call. Ward Utterback did just that. He asked me to help prepare the church for his visit and conference. The leadership knew what was coming and the impact of Ward’s Conference blew their socks off. One of our men has made Welcoming his ministry and he trains others in how to keep this ministry alive and well.

The church is much more welcoming and has grown. Now we have the luxury of experiencing some growing pains. They know now it “doesn’t just happen” but takes deliberate plans and actions if we are going to continue to grow and continue to be a welcoming church.

I want to recommend to you “Welcoming Touch Ministries” and Ward Utterback. Visitors will begin to become regulars and growth really can be achieved.

Sincerely,

Dr. Dennis Hansen
National NAMB Missionary
Church Planting Catalyst