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Sustained church growth is the result of a positive church experience, members inviting friends, and a reputation that is spread by word-of-mouth.
Most people will visit a church several times before making a decision to call that church home.
The challenging part of hosting guests, particularly for churches of a few hundred people, is that visitors can sneak in and out without anyone even knowing they were there.
For some people, this incognito behavior is because a visitor wants to feel confident the church is a good fit before they reach out to other members.
Someone once said that a visitor will make a decision about a church long before the pastor even begins to speak.
If this is true, what is the visitor evaluating in the process?
6 Things a Church Visitor Will Evaluate
1. Easy Way-finding
Directional signage helps visitors find their way around a new environment.
Drive through your campus and look for those pivotal decision points and determine if a directional sign could help a visitor find where to park, drop children off or enter the building.
This is particularly important if the campus has multiple buildings or entrances.
Create large building and hallway signs that are visible and easy to understand.
The easier you can make it for a visitor to find what they are looking for without asking questions, the better their first impression of your church will be.
2. Friendly Encounters
Be strategic and think about who the first person a visitor will interact with as they enter the building.
Is it a friendly parking volunteer, greeter, or usher? Are these pivotal people trained to be friendly – yet not overbearing? Try to avoid aggressive interaction tactics. This unpleasant experience will likely scare a visitor away.
Think about how welcoming members are to someone they don’t know who happens to be sitting next to them. Are there people assigned to look for new people and say hello?
Use discretion because some people like to be recognized as being new and others want to blend with the crowd while they assess the environment.
The goal is to be friendly yet not overbearing.
3. Inviting Facility
Most of us are so familiar with an environment that we become blind to glaring issues.
Take a close look at your campus and do a reality check.
How inviting is the facility? Is it clean and clutter-free, or do the windows have fingerprints on them?
Is there debris lying in the flowerbeds, or is the landscape meticulously manicured?
All of these subtle details leave an impression on a visitor and tell a story about the culture and priorities of the organization.
Create a team of volunteers who are responsible for identifying areas that need attention and working with leadership to improve the look and feel of the campus.
4. Provide Multiple Access Points
Visitors need an easy way to access information about the church. A guest will be interested in the types of activities and programs that are available.
Visitors are thinking about things like:
What does this church believe? – Make sure you have a written statement of faith available at all contact points. Visitor’s Center and church website.
What is this church trying to accomplish? Provide a detailed mission, vision, and values statement so that a visitor will understand what it is that the church is striving to do and its process for achieving that end.
What kinds of programs are there for my kids? Young families want kid-friendly programs. Let visitors know about the various ways that the church supports young families and the ministries that are specific to children and youth.
What kinds of discipleship options are there for my spiritual growth? People go to church to connect with other believers and to develop their Christian walk.
Help visitors understand the discipleship process at your church and the ongoing classes that are available to help members develop spiritually.
What are the steps to becoming a new member? Create a new member process to help assimilate them to the church. Offer membership classes regularly so that visitors can easily transition to member status.
Make all of this information easy to access and understand.
5. Create A Process For Communication
Good communication is crucial in every organization.
Think about how information is shared and the different avenues for providing that information.
Be strategic with communication and think about how information gets communicated.
Determine the best format and use pulpit announcements, videos, welcome center, and church website to share information.
Ask yourself if the information is consistent in every forum. How often is information updated, and how much notice do members receive when marketing an upcoming event?
Manage church communications by taking the time to think about who needs to know what kinds of information and when they need to know it.
6. New Member Expectations
Visitors who decide to become members need to understand what will be expected of them once they make that commitment.
Think through the new member process and be sensitive to putting too much pressure to participate, particularly at the level of longtime members.
The last thing you want is to scare someone away because they couldn’t fulfill the requirements of being a new member.
Growth Comes When Visitors Transition To Members
Most churches want to grow and include more people to help fulfill their mission.
Take the time to think through a visitor experience so that you can help them transition from a visitor to a new member!