An important step in the growth of any church is to do whatever you can to encourage your first time guests to return for a second week. Notice I use the word ‘guest’ not visitor. To treat first time attenders as a welcomed guest, there are five things I would like to suggest that you do habitually throughout your week.
1. Personally, Greet Your Guests
The Senior Pastor should be one of the first people that greets your guests. That means as Senior Pastor that you are a member of your greeting team stationed outside somewhere between the parking lot and your front door.
2. Give Your Guests a Gift.
During the opening and/or closing announcements be sure to let your guests know that you have a special gift ready for them to pick up at your Welcome Center after the service. After your guest fills out a short welcome card, they receive their gift. Over the years we have used gifts like, cookies, plants, coffee mugs and water bottles. On the way out of your building your guests , with gift in hand identifying them as new, should be greeted again by your hospitality and Senior Pastor. That’s right the Senior Pastor should make a first AND lasting impression on your congregation and guests by greeting at the door.
3. Send a Handwritten Note
The Senior Pastor should take time each Monday to write and mail a short, handwritten note thanking the guest for coming. Emails are great but save that medium for later in the week. Hand written notes are a lost art but don’t kid yourself, people still enjoy getting personal mail delivered to their home.
4. Follow Up with a Phone Call.
Have a member of your Hospitality team make a phone call on Wednesday thanking your guest for coming and asking if they have any questions about the church. Make sure your team member has in front of them a short script to follow as well as some answers to some basic questions like, what time does the youth group meet? (Don’t worry if your volunteer gets the answering machine when calling, leaving a brief message of welcome on behalf of the church is just as meaningful.
5. Send an Invitation E-mail
On Friday the Senior Pastor write a short e-mail saying how nice it was to meet them last week and inviting them to come again this Sunday. If there is something special going on be sure to mention it and highlight in a sentence what you will be speaking about in your upcoming message.
Now I know what you may be thinking, “The guest is going to feel overwhelmed as if you are stalking them” Not true. I have found that guests they feel like we hope they would feel, like they are important, special, and that they matter to you and matter to God. You cannot over emphasize how important it is for your church to encourage a return visit.
Good but would stress that hand written note somewhat of a generationa concern. Many younger people seldom look at their mail, especially if they live in a complex with central mailboxes. So the note is good but we must recognize it might not be seen for several days. Hence the importance of phone call or emails
I greatly appreciate your thoughts!!
Thank you for your comment Ken. I agree that the handwritten note has become a lost art for the reason you mentioned. It is true about a younger generation not being tuned in to going to their USPS delivery mailboxes daily. But that is precisely why I think the hand written postal delivered note can be so effective. The personal touch of a note card is a rarity and I believe much needed in this impersonal world we live in. I agree that contacting a first time guest needs to happen in a more timely manner than ‘snail mail’ offers. Bill Easum, the founding partner of The Effective Church Group has long recommended a personal visit within a 24 hour period. I think a gift delivered on a 2 minute max visit on Sunday or Monday is gold medal winning follow up. This of course is more difficult in urban, apartment dwellings. I agree with you on the importance of emails and phone calls. And lets not forget to use text messages to offer a short “thanks for visiting”.