As a church pastor, training your hospitality team to hone their greeting and engagement skills will help grow your congregation. Seeing that your guests are warmly welcomed by many of your members and engaged in conversation by a few will help bring back your first time visitors by treating them as V.I.P. guests.

We trained our greeters on how to engage newcomers before the service with 10 second testimonials like: “You are really going to enjoy our pastor’s message.” “Your kids are going to love our Children’s church.” “The Praise team members are really talented.” These positive mini messages shared while newcomers are approaching the Worship center from the parking lot will help solidify in their minds that they have made a good decision by coming to church. 

After our guests have been invited to stay for a fellowship time following services, our people would use the “F.O.R.E.” method to engage guests in conversation. The F.O.R.E. method reminds your members to ask newcomers open ended questions about things they may be interested in:

Family: It is a good way to find out if people are single, married, or have kids. People love to tell you about their kids.

Occupation: By finding out what someone does for a living can give you hints about follow up questions or even info that can help you to connect them with someone else in the congregation with a similar job.

Recreation: A question like, “What do you do for fun?” opens so many opportunities for connections to be made.

Entertainment: As a last resort you can always ask about a recent movie, T.V. show or sporting event.

It is also important to have a strategic follow up plan for guests. Getting your guests to fill out a welcome card with pertinent information can be made easer if you offer them a gift of some value. A travel mug seemed to work well.  Back in the early days of the church we would hand deliver small plants to the doorsteps of our first-time guests. Along with the plant would be a card that said, “Thank you for worshipping with us today. We hope you enjoyed your experience. People are like plants; they need love and nurture to grow. We hope you will return and so that we may grow together.”

Over the years we have used a combination of handwritten note cards, text messages, emails, and phone calls to follow up on our first time guests. Experiment to discover what works best in your context. But you should know, the sooner you follow-up, the more likely your guest is to return. In fact, multiple studies over the years have shown that having a written “Thank you” delivered by the Postal Service within 48 hours, electronic messages and e-mails within 24 hours will impress the one receiving the communicat and that the most effective time to do a drop-by visit is Sunday afternoon.

Excellent hospitality is the key to turning first-time visitors into returning guests. However, if you don’t have a steady flow of first-time visitors, great hospitality isn’t going to help you grow your church.

The Get More Visitors Checklist is a no-gimmick tool that will help you turn a trickle of visitors into a steady stream.

And you can get it free. Just click here.