Growing churches tend to have a dynamic leader, but many of them have a marketing machine behind them. Yes, nothing can be accomplished without the work of His hands, but growing churches takes intentionality, communication and marketing, at least to some level. The reality is this. It can be tough to get people to come to your church, but its even tougher to get them to become members and see them become active in your church body. Here are six tips that will help you stand head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to making newcomers feel welcome when planning your follow-up campaigns.
- Greeters – All churches have them, but many greeting teams are limited to a few people who choose to get to church 15 minutes early every Sunday morning to say hello to people as they stroll across the parking lot and into the building. However, greeting shouldn’t be limited to a few people. Make sure all of your members know their role and how they fit into the plan.
- Church leaders and staff members should lead by example.
- Every member should extend a warm welcome to those they haven’t met.
- To take it a step further, assign volunteers to follow-up with people. Make sure they are around the same age. You don’t want an 80-year-old man welcoming a young woman in her 20’s.
- Welcome events – “If you’re visiting with us this morning, we’d like to invite you to meet our pastor after the service in the room off of the lobby through the double doors on the right. We have a gift for you as our way of saying ‘thank you’ for worshipping with us this morning.” Sound familiar? Many churches practice this, but many don’t. Having a meet and greet with the pastor goes a long way in showing visitors how much value you put in them. Make an effort to remember names and faces, their children and what they are involved in.
- A note from the pastor – A day or two after meeting a visitor, make sure your pastor writes a personal, handwritten note to them. Express how thankful you are that they chose to worship with you on Sunday. Tell them you enjoyed meeting them and their family and that you look forward to seeing them next week.
- A phone call from a small group leader – Taking the note from the pastor to the next level, assign small group leaders to follow up with visitors with a phone call. Invite them to small group the following Sunday, or tell them how much you enjoyed getting to know them just a few days before.
- Parking – I know the subject of parking may be an odd one for this list, but it’s vital. If you’re church has limited parking, it can make even getting into church a stressful event. What visitor wants to struggle with finding a parking spot? Exactly. They’ll just keep driving to the next church down the street who has ample parking. Go out of your way to provide for visitors. Have a designated parking area for first-time visitors. Furthermore, explore the idea of having designated parking areas for new and expectant mothers. To visitors, it shows you really care about the welfare of your members.
- Surveys – After the meet and greet with the pastor, the handwritten note and the phone call from a small group leader, consider asking visitors a few questions. Don’t do it too soon though. It could be a turn off. You don’t want visitors to feel like you’re using them to refine your process. Perhaps the best time to ask questions like “what reasons led you to choosing our church” or “what can we do to make visitors feel more welcomed” is during a new member’s class. At that point, they are invested enough in your church to tell you how they feel without feeling like they are a guinea pig. Once you have solid feedback, revise your plan, if needed.
Perhaps you’re struggling with retaining visitors and seeing them become members. Are there tips above that you aren’t practicing? If so, sit down with your staff and plan how you’re going to engage visitors in your church. Don’t stop there, though. Your members need to feel ownership of the process too. A welcome message from the pastor is a great start, but unless visitors feel like other members who are like them are warm and welcoming, the likelihood of them coming back is slim.