Guests attend a church for a number of reasons. It might be that they have a desire to learn more about God and are interested in the bible. Or, perhaps they have a problem and want to know how they can overcome them by applying biblical principles. Or, maybe they want a social connection with people who share their same faith and values. Churches that are wanting to grow understand these issues and that church growth, at least numerically, is the result of guests who become members.
There are several productive ways you can invite folks to visit your church. You can have an attractive website, members can personally invite others, you can develop community outreach ministries or start great programs to reach the youth and the list goes on. And, while churches should have compelling ministries that connect with guests and produce environments that are guest friendly, that’s only the first step. Guest follow-up is as equally important as getting folks in the door. So what can you do to connect with guests? Here’s some ideas you can do to help them return.
5 Simple Ways To Connect With Church Guests
1. Acknowledge Their Presence
Being a first-time guest at a new church is awkward enough without being put on the spot. So, take a moment to acknowledge your guests and welcome them to your church. But, remember to be sensitive and avoid things that may embarrass them. Many folks don’t mind attention being drawn to them, while others simply prefer to slip in and out while they evaluate the church’s environment. Just make sure that you take a second to thank them for being there. This sends an assuring message of welcome and acceptance.
2. Create A Hospitality Desk
Guests at your church would like to know what sort of ministries are available. Have a specific place where they can find answers to their questions. This includes discovering if there are programs for their families, what the church believes, additional bible studies and other hands-on ministries in which they can be involved. One great way to do this is to create a hospitality desk in the lobby or foyer of your church. Staff it with a smiling trained volunteer that will welcome guests and answer their questions.
3. Have a Guest Book
We are currently experimenting with a “Guest Book” rather than a “Visitor Card” that guests fill out. The “Guest Book” is on a small lectern in our foyer. As guests come in they are greeted by our Hospitality Team, they’re given a “Welcome Packet” (video on this coming soon) and are ask to “Please, sign our guest book”. In our “Guest Book” we have two simple lines for them to fill out: Name and email address” its quick and its simple. We use the time that they are in the foyer for a brief opportunity to get to know our guest a little better and to answer their questions. Since this is a critical time in the guest experience it is vital that they feel connected to someone in the church. This connection helps to increase the probability of their return.
4. Ask Them to Come Back
Don’t just welcome guests at the door, but ask them to come back and visit your church again. The hospitality team and ministry leaders should learn how to be experts at this. Encourage your guests to visit the church for several services, this way they can get acquainted with your people and experience various church services. Let’s face it sometimes the timing of their visit wasn’t a good representation of your church. They may show up when some of your key people are out, or your message and music wasn’t exactly the greatest. By inviting them to return you’re giving them another opportunity to see the church at its best.
5. Send a Welcome Letter
Letters are a good way to add a layer of connectivity with your guests. This letter needs to go out as quickly as possible while their visit is still fresh in their mind. While I like the idea of sending a physical letter to first time guests, timing can be difficult for bi-vocational pastors or smaller congregations. In this case you may want to include a pre-written letter in your Hospitality Packet and send one out as an email to the addresses you’ve collected from the “Guest Book”.
I hope these five simple ways of connecting to your churches guests will inspire you to consider even more ways to further the ministry of your church.