the shape of leadership

Five Ways to Connect With Visitors

Keep them coming back

Influence Magazine on June 12, 2019

Each time people visit your church for the first time, it’s an opportunity to connect. Connect with them personally. Connect them to the church. And most importantly, connect them to God. Often, those three things happen in that order.

The priority with first-time guests should be providing a welcoming environment where they can encounter God’s love through His people. But many times, follow-through simply falls through the cracks. Churches put a lot of energy and effort into getting people to show up for the first time. We should be just as concerned about bringing them back.

Here are five ways to connect with first-time guests and let them know you care:

1. Greeting

Guests are more likely to return if they feel a personal connection with the leaders. In smaller churches, it’s easier for pastors to notice and welcome guests. In larger churches, it may take more planning. Hosting a guest reception for visitors immediately after service is one way to acknowledge them.

Follow up later in the week with a phone call, email or handwritten note from the church. Even small gestures can go a long way toward convincing people to return.

Even small gestures can go a long way toward convincing people to return.

2. Gift

Offering a gift is a great way to show visitors you value them. It could be something as inexpensive as a cup of coffee. Perhaps you could partner with a local coffee shop to provide gift cards or certificates.

A gift is not about rewarding someone for attending. It’s a way to show you care. Make it personal, by adding a note thanking guests for visiting.

3. Food

Who doesn’t love getting something delicious to eat? Many churches hand out cookies or other food items to first-time guests. You could distribute these at the guest reception. Or a hospitality team could hand-deliver them to visitors during the week. It’s just another point of contact that can mean so much.

4. Visit

Personal visits aren’t as common as they once were. But stopping by the house of a visitor during the week can be a great way to stay in touch, answer questions, find out more about him or her, and even offer prayer.

5. Feedback

In today’s world, people like to offer input. A phone call or email asking about their experience says you care enough about them to find out more. It’s also a way to improve your visitor experience each week. Sure, you might get your fair share of complaints. But you’ll also get a chance to hear personally from your first-time guests.

If you view guests as potential new members and disciples, you will treat them differently. The cost to keep them is actually an investment in their spiritual lives.

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