Christmas is a few short weeks away, and churches are scrambling to prepare for the influx of visitors.
Churches will add a service, perhaps put more chairs in the sanctuary, and some will create an overflow space.
These are all important steps as you prepare for Christmas services.
However, as you meet with your planning teams, 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 have a social experience with people who share the same values and belief system.
And, of course, there are the CEO people – who only attend on Christmas and Easter!
Don’t underestimate the value of having these bi-annual visitors and the potential to gain a few new members.
Every church that desires to grow understands that growth comes from visitors who become active members.
There are many creative ways to invite people to visit your church – engaging websites, member invitations, community outreach, great children and youth programs, or a good community reputation.
Churches need to initiate visits and 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. You want to know how that visitor felt about their experience and how they would describe your church.
So, you’ve succeeded in 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 at 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 the 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 by welcoming visitors. Ask them to come back.
Some churches now reach out to visitors and encourage them to visit a few times.
This provides visitors a chance to have a feel for the church culture, get to know the people, and experience the church more than once.
The more times you can get a visitor to return, the better your chances for transitioning them to membership.
3. Welcome Center
Provide a designated place where visitors can go and ask questions about the church.
Create a welcome center in the lobby and have a trained volunteer who can welcome the visitors, 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. Encourage them to follow through by offering them a gift.
When they arrive at the Welcome Center, offer them information about the church, answer any questions, and thank them for coming by giving them a gift.
The gift is not as important as the opportunity to connect with the guest.
Use this opportunity to get to know the visitor 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 very important to everyone – particularly first-time visitors.
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 remains 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 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 for God’s blessings for you
and your family!
ABC Community Church
This, coupled with an environment where people learn biblical principles that help them navigate life’s complexities and 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?
If you are a member of SCM, you can access an editable copy of the thank you letter or visitor card by logging in here.
If you are not a member but would like to access an editable copy of the thank you letter or visitor card, click here.