You want your church visitors to come back again. So it’s important that you have a basic plan in place to engage with guests after they’ve visited and encourage them to return.
We came up with five things you can do to make a strong first impression and ensure visitors feel valued:
1. Choose good coffee
I know this sounds like a joke, but believe me, it’s not. If you’ve visited as many churches as I have, you’ve come to expect the coffee to be terrible. When it’s not, it creates a lasting impression.
So throw out the Folgers or whatever budget coffee you’re using and look for some cost-efficient alternatives. Some coffee shops will give you a discount if you buy in bulk or advertise their shop. Spend some time looking into ways to up your coffee game.
Offer real cream instead of powder, include a dairy-free milk alternative for any vegan or lactose-intolerant visitors, and look for cups that aren’t tiny styrofoam accidents waiting to happen.
2. Make parking easy and accessible
Visitors don’t want to show up at your church early. It can put a target on their back that says “newbie,” and that makes them feel awkward. On the other hand, if they show up closer to the start of the service, they could struggle to find a parking place.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if church members left the spaces closest to the church open for visitors? You can even create a special parking area specifically for guests.
In the absence of a designated section for visitors, make sure you have volunteers to help with parking and clear signage to help first-timers find a place.
3. Make it easy to find a seat
Another pain point for visitors is walking into a full sanctuary and trying to find seating for four. It’s stressful to wander around with your squirming kids when it feels like everyone’s eyes are on you.
You can alleviate this tension by enlisting ushers who can ensure new people can easily find seats. Another helpful solution is to communicate to your congregation that they’re serving visitors by leaving accessible aisle seats open.
4. Don’t make church feel like a clique
If you don’t want to make a guest feel like an outsider, avoid insider comments and jokes. It’s completely natural that a close-knit community will develop inside jokes and stories, but you want to be careful not to rely on them when you have visitors present.
Every time you fall back on a joke about Bill’s cooking or Tabitha’s lead foot, newcomers feel like they’re uninvited guests at a family gathering. It’s best if you make sure that Sunday morning is a time where everyone belongs—no backstory necessary.
5. Have everyone follow the five-foot rule
It’s good to have greeters stationed at the door to welcome new people. But visitors know that receiving people is the greeter’s job. It has a much bigger impact to feel like the church is welcoming.
You can make sure that happens by challenging people to abide by the five-foot rule. This rule simply states that every time anyone is within five feet of a person they don’t know, they say “hello” or “welcome.” They don’t have to stop and engage in small talk (unless they want to), but they should at least acknowledge the new people in their midst.
Making people feel valued is as simple as teaching your congregation how to make Sunday morning about serving visitors. When your congregation starts thinking about ways to make guests feel respected and appreciated, they’re going to create a more visitor-friendly culture.
The Definitive Guide To Successful Church Engagement is chock-full of practical strategies your church can implement to practice being more other-focused. Download your free copy of this amazing resource today.