Tag Archive - visitor

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[Repost] How to get Easter Guests to Come Back to your Church

A couple of years ago I wrote a post on how to get guests who come to Easter services at your church to come back to your church. It went on to be one of the top 10 most popular posts on my blog that year. With Easter weekend coming up I thought I’d share it with you again in an effort to help you think through any last minute opportunities to leverage Easter to its fullest at your church and help guests come back.

In a couple of days churches all across the country are going to be hosting guests at their Easter services, hoping they say yes to following Jesus, and hoping that they come back the next week and get connected in the life of their church. I hope that happens too. But hope is not a strategy.

Here’s a couple of ideas that should help you develop a strategy to keep those guests coming back well after Easter.

1. Help Guests Self-Identify

Instead of head hunting for guests, create simple ways for guests to let you know that they are there. Guest parking, children’s check-in, a physical guest services location, and a communication card located in your church program or bulletin are all simple ways to create avenues for guests to let you know they are there, when they’re ready to let you know.

2. Don’t Spam People

Please don’t show up on people’s doorstep or bombard them with multiple emails and letters the week following Easter. Many of the companies out there that are the best at guest services don’t overtly pursue guests. Rather they are available to guests and their needs when their guests engage them and express a need.

3. Make the Next Step Easy

People come to church on Easter for all kinds of reasons, but they’ll stay at a church because of relationships and responsibility. What is the one, clear, simple, and easy step you want all of your guests to take…and why should they take it? How are you going to get guests quickly and easily connected to relationships and responsibility at your church?

4. The More Personal the Better

Instead of sending the same generic follow up letter to everyone make it personal. If guests are giving you personal information such as their name and the names of their children, and if someone is personally greeting them and hosting them then reach out to them in the same personal manner. Why not have the person that greeted them and hosted them write a hand-written card thanking them for being a guest at your church and that they’re looking forward to seeing them again next week.


Posted in Leadership

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How to make Guests Feel Uncomfortable at your Church

It’s uncomfortable for a person who’s unfamiliar with God and church to go to church for the first time. Often times they feel as though they’re taking a huge risk by even showing up. Unfortunately, there are a lot of things that churches do to make guests feel even more uncomfortable when they go to church for the first time. Here are just a few…

Use Insider Language

Churches are notorious for using cute insider language like the “Butterfly Room” for the 2-year-olds. Just call it the 2-year-old room, that’s going to help guests understand it and not feel like an outsider. No guest knows if their kid should go in the butterfly room or the lady bug room…they’re raising kids not bugs. Also stay away from acrostics…I know every good Christian in America should know what FPU means, but I’m telling you, people who are new to church have no idea what you’re talking about. And if it’s confusing to them it could be the difference in them leaning in towards Jesus or away.

Point them Out

New people love to be singled out and made the center of attention, so make sure you do something like have them all remain seated and have everyone greet them in the worship service at some point. I hope you know that I’m kidding…if you don’t, let me let you in on a little secret…I’m kidding. Don’t point out new guests. Instead think through creative and nonthreatening ways for guests to self-identify themselves and let you know they’re there.

Make it Confusing to Navigate the Building

Make sure that you don’t use clear signage throughout your building. Guests should just know where to go when they come to our church, and if they don’t it’s their own fault. If they came to church more often they’d figure it out. When guests don’t know where to park, don’t know which entrance to go in, and have a difficult time navigating the facility because you haven’t thought about that for them and helped them through great way-finding, that always makes an already awkward situation worse.

Don’t Update your Facilities

That church building that looks and smells like it’s fresh out of 1980…yeah don’t update it, it’s vintage. We don’t need to impress people with our building. We’re here to worship God, not a building. I don’t think church buildings need to be crazy, over the top impressive…but when a church facility is not on par with other public space in the community it’s going to make guests feel uncomfortable.

Have Weird People taking care of their Kids

It’s weird dropping off your kids with someone you’ve never met before. It probably even makes some people feel like bad parents. Dropping off a kid in a room that is dirty and has old carpet, where the toys aren’t clean or a room that smells bad can make guests feel very uncomfortable. Not to mention dropping off kids where there is only a teenager or a male volunteer in the room can plain creep guests out. Oh, and make sure you don’t change their kids diapers and give the kids back to the guests with a dirty diaper…that always makes guests feel comfortable (sarcasm intended).

Ever been uncomfortable visiting a church for the first time? What made it so awkward for you? What are some other things you’ve seen churches do to make guests feel uncomfortable? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear about your experience and observations!


Posted in Leadership

0

How to get Guests to Come Back to your Church

Quick, name the top 5 churches you know that do a great job with guest services. Not so easy? Now try this, name the top 5 companies or organizations you know that do a great job with guest services. A little easier huh?

Why is it that the one organization on the planet that should care the most about people, the church, seems to get a bad rap for the way it treats people?

The other day I had the opportunity to spend a half-day with the staff at Sun Valley Community Church (the church I have the privilege of serving at) learning from the good folks over at Marriott about building a great guest service experience. If you want to be great at something you need to learn from people who do great things. Too bad there wasn’t church providing world-class service in this area we could learn from. Here’s a couple of take aways from our time together.

Nothing makes a guest feel more stupid than using internal language and jargon.

In other words stop using insider language. The most obvious way to tell if a church is insider focused or outsider focused is the language that they choose to use. It either says that the church is “inclusive” or “exclusive.” And it’s important because words build worlds. There are all kinds of ways this goes wrong in churches. Preaching as though everyone already knows Jesus and comes to the room with basic Bible knowledge, coming up with cool names and brands for ministries that mean nothing to people outside the church, and mentioning people from stage by name without explaining who they are just a couple of them. Two big principles to keep in mind when it comes to the language you choose to use in your church are: clear always trumps cute or cool and you’re always better off just calling things what they are. No one outside of your church understands what CR, Awana, FPU, or Re-Engage, means…sorry for the rant.

G.U.E.S.T.
G.reet the Guest

Be well kept, make eye contact, wear a smile, and have an open welcoming posture. A simple, “Welcome, we’re glad you’re here with us today,” will do. Don’t ask how people are doing unless you have time to stop and hear how they’re actually doing. Don’t ask unless you actually care to know. And by all means make sure your guest services volunteers are not huddled around talking with each other, instead ensure that they’re prepared and attentive to guests.

U.se the Guests Name

When possible use the guests name. It’s not as difficult as you may think to acquire a guest’s name at church. If they’re checking in their children for the first time, you’re obviously going to get their name. And you can always introduce yourself and ask their name…then use it. A name is the most important thing a person owns.

E.stablish the Guests Needs

Take time to understand what the guest needs. Are they looking around like they’ve never been there before? Are they looking for a restroom? Are they having a difficult time getting all of their kids into church? Don’t ask guests if they need help (men will always turn you down). Instead ask, “What can I help you find?” or “Let me help you.”

S.how Interest in the Guest

Think about how you can build a connection with a guest. Are they wearing sports paraphernalia? Is a child coming from a soccer game (wearing their uniform)? If it’s their first time attending, are they new to the area? Engage them in personal, yet unobtrusive, conversation.

T.hank the Guest

When people leave after service simply be polite, and thank them for being with you that weekend. Instead of spamming people a simple thank you email and invitation to their next step if they’re ready to take it is kind. Drop them a personal handwritten note thanking them for attending.


Posted in Leadership

0

Making the Assimilation Process Work at your Church

Stuckness is no respecter of the “brand” or “flavor” of a church. All kinds of churches across America are stuck. Large churches, small churches, old churches, new churches, Baptist churches, Methodist churches, Nazarene churches, Presbyterian church and even non-denominational churches are stuck. Lead long enough in a church and it will probably happen to you. Stuckness is such an epidemic in the American Church that Thom Rainer, President and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources has stated in his research that:

“Eight out of ten of the approximately 400,000 churches in the United States are declining or have plateaued.” Thom Rainer, Breakout Churches

And while there are a lot of reasons that churches get stuck and plateau or begin to decline the biggest culprit is that somewhere along the way new people stop getting connected or assimilated into the life of the church. It doesn’t have to be that way. Try giving the list below to the Sr. Leadership Team at your church to read and then come back and have an honest conversation about each point and identify opportunities to improve and islands of strength to build on.

Create an Engaging Guest Experience

I’ll admit that what I’m about to say may sound a little like heresy, but here goes. Instead of learning from other churches begin looking at other public spaces that people in your community enjoy going to. Visit resorts, restaurants, stores and other public venues that have a great guest experience and have people coming back for more. Take your teams, debrief, and build a list of what you can learn and principles and ideas that you can transfer to your local church.

Create Opportunities for People to Self-Identify

Guest parking, children’s check-in, a physical guest services location, and a communication card located in your church program or bulletin are all simple ways to create avenues for guests to self-identify. By a guest self-identifying they are essentially “opting-in” or giving you permission to speak with them. Instead of butting into people’s lives and spamming people are you engaging them in a dialogue with their permission.

Make it Personal

It’s a nice touch when I make reservations for my wife’s birthday and we show up at the restaurant to be greeted by a “Happy Birthday Mrs. Alexander,” (and I don’t mind the free dessert either). The more personal you can make it, the more memorable it will be. Instead of a cookie-cutter guest follow up letter, could you write a personal handwritten note? Could the person who greeted the guest and walked them around actually be the one writing it? How about a personal phone call to say, “Thank you for being our guest,” instead of trying to just get them to come back. Think: personal without intrusive.

Identify Next Steps for People

It can be frustrating going onto a church campus for the first time. It can seem like everyone else (insiders) already know where to go and what to do. It’s easy to feel like an outsider; in fact in can be plain intimidating. You can make it easier for people by thinking through a “what’s next” exercise with your team. Imagine a guest drives into your parking lot…what next? Imagine they find the right place to park…what’s next? Asking, “What’s next?” moving through the moment a guest arrives on your campus to the moment they leave will help you discover opportunities you have to make it easier for people to get connected at your church.

Make it Easy to Volunteer and get into a Group

People come to church for all kinds of reasons but they stay at a church because of relationship and responsibility. So instead of making it difficult to volunteer and get into a group make it easy. The best way to build a great assimilation process at your church is to focus on building a strong culture of volunteering and Bible Study Groups.

Create an Invitation Culture

When people come to church with people,assimilation becomes easy because there is already an existing relationship. In the same study conducted by LifeWay Research referenced above, they found the following to be true:

  • Most people come to church because of a personal invitation
  • 7 out of 10 unchurched people have never been invited to church
  • Only 2% of church members invite an unchurched person to church
  • 82% of the unchurched are at least somewhat likely to attend church if invited

This post is an excerpt from an article that I originally wrote for Converge Point Magazine.


Posted in Leadership

0

How to keep Easter Guests Coming Back

In a couple of days churches all across the country are going to be hosting guests at their Easter services, hoping they say yes to following Jesus, and hoping that they come back the next week and get connected in the life of their church. I hope that happens too. But hope is not a strategy.

Here’s a couple of ideas that should help you develop a strategy to keep those guests coming back well after Easter.

1. Help Guests Self-Identify

Instead of head hunting for guests, create simple ways for guests to let you know that they are there. Guest parking, children’s check-in, a physical guest services location, and a communication card located in your church program or bulletin are all simple ways to create avenues for guests to let you know they are there, when they’re ready to let you know.

2. Don’t Spam People

Please don’t show up on people’s doorstep or bombard them with multiple emails and letters the week following Easter. Many of the companies out there that are the best at guest services don’t overtly pursue guests. Rather they are available to guests and their needs when their guests engage them and express a need.

3. Make the Next Step Easy

People come to church on Easter for all kinds of reasons, but they’ll stay at a church because of relationships and responsibility. What is the one, clear, simple, and easy step you want all of your guests to take…and why should they take it? How are you going to get guests quickly and easily connected to relationships and responsibility at your church?

4. The More Personal the Better

Instead of sending the same generic follow up letter to everyone make it personal. If guests are giving you personal information such as their name and the names of their children, and if someone is personally greeting them and hosting them then reach out to them in the same personal manner. Why not have the person that greeted them and hosted them write a hand-written card thanking them for being a guest at your church and that they’re looking forward to seeing them again next week.


Posted in Leadership
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