Easter is this weekend and churches are scrambling to prepare for the influx of visitors. Make sure you have a plan to follow up with your church visitors.
People go to church for lots of reasons.
They want to learn about God and biblical principles and they want a social experience with people who share their same values and belief system.
And of course there is the CEO people – those who only attend on Christmas and Easter!
Every church that has a desire to grow understands that growth comes from visitors who convert to active members.
There are many creative ways to invite people to visit your church – engaging website, member invitations, community outreach, great children and youth programs or just a good reputation in the community.
Churches need to initiate visits and to create environments that are visitor friendly – but that is only the first step.
Visitor follow-up is just as important as getting people in the door.
So you’ve had success with getting visitors in the door, but what do you do after they leave?
There are a few things you can do strategically to entice visitors to come back.
5 Tips to Follow Up With Church Visitors
1. Make Them Feel Welcome
Anyone who has ever visited a new church understands the awkwardness of being in a new environment while assessing the visitor experience.
Take a moment in each service to acknowledge visitors and welcome them to your church.
Be sensitive to the visitors and don’t do anything that might embarrass them.
For example, calling them to front of the church and interviewing them in front of the entire church might not be the best approach to enticing them to come back.
Some people want to be noticed while others want to sneak in and out while they assess the environment.
Regardless, taking a moment to thank them for coming goes a long way in sending a message of acceptance.
2. Invite Them Back
Don’t stop with welcoming visitors. Ask them to come back.
My pastor does a good job of this. He asks visitors to visit for a few times so that they have the opportunity to get to know the people and experience the church more than once.
3. Welcome Center
Provide a place where visitors can go and ask questions about the church.
Most people want to know what kinds of programs are available for their family, what the church believes and what kind of spiritual development and volunteer opportunities are available.
Create a welcome center in the lobby and have a trained volunteer who can welcome the visitor, give them a tour of the facility and answer any questions they may have.
4. Use Visitor Cards
Ask guests to fill out a visitor card and return it to the guest services area.
When they arrive offer them information about the church and a free gift.
The gift can be a bible, special book or bookmark.
The gift is not as important as the opportunity to connect with the guest.
Use this opportunity to get to know them a little better and to answer any questions they may have about the church.
This is a vital moment in the visitor experience.
If they feel like someone connected with them it will increase their likelihood of returning.
Connection is so very important to everyone – but particularly for that first time visitor.
5. Thanks for Visiting Letter
Follow up with a thanks for visiting letter.
Assign this job to someone every Monday morning.
You want this letter to go out quickly while the church experience is still fresh in the visitor’s mind.
Include a coupon for a free coffee or pastry when they return.
This tiny incentive may be enough to get them to come back for a second visit. A thanks for visiting letter may look something like this.
Dear Mr. Visitor,
Thank you for visiting ABC Community Church on Sunday, June 3, 20XX.
We are so glad you chose to spend your Sunday with us. As a
thank you, we would like to offer you a free beverage and pastry
at the coffee bar in the lobby during your next visit.
For additional information about our church, ministries or upcoming events, please visit our website at abccommunitychurch.com.
If there is anything we can do to assist you, please call our church
office at 123-456-7890.
Thank you again for visiting and we pray God’s blessings for you
and your family!
ABC Community Church
This coupled with an environment where people learn biblical principles that help them to navigate the complexities of life; where their social and spiritual needs are met; in an atmosphere that is relevant, inviting and welcoming – are all reasons a visitor will want to return.
But the steps you take to follow up with visitors may be the one thing that gets them to come back.
What does your church do to follow up with first time visitors?
To access an editable copy of the thank you letter or visitor card, click here.