We visited one church 6 times over the course of 3 months since our move to our new place in Florida.
It started off pretty good. They made a really good first impression.
But we dropped out.
We stopped going.
They have an awesome Sunday experience.
Their worship service was both exciting and sacred.
The music was of high quality. The musicians were skilled. Singing with the worship band was fun and the atmosphere was worshipful.
They led us into music that was both celebratory and deeply sacred. They had a mix of hymns and choruses.
Their teaching was biblical.
The teaching team is firm on presenting biblical teaching. The 45 minute expository sermons through the book of the Bible were full of excellent and practical teaching.
The main teacher / pastor is a skilled communicator and teaches very well. As one who appreciates expository sermons, I enjoyed every single sermon that I heard. It has been a fresh relief after years of more topical oriented sermons in my last church that I helped to plant.
Their mission was Christ centered.
The leadership was pretty clear in many ways that this church was Christ centered. They had a generous mission program. On one of our visits, they shared some of the ways the church blesses the community through service, though we missed that opportunity because of our schedule.
They have awesome Church Hospitality Systems
Their church greeters were well trained, and easy to identify.
Their ushers were efficient at getting us to the seat.
The check-in process at the children’s ministry was a breeze.
The pastor was clear about how to fill out a connection card and what we should do with it.
The volunteers we interacted with were friendly and facilitated our ability to get to our seat.
The welcome center was clearly marked and we could engage people in small talk conversation if we choose.
The papers in the visitor welcome packet thanked us for coming.
During the service, the pastor clearly welcomed first time visitors in a way that wasn’t intimidating.
This church does all the things that make for a wonderful hospitality vision. I believe they have been good at keeping that visitor welcome vision in front of their volunteers.
We felt honored to be so welcomed. They are not like this church that had the right systems but no still no welcome.
After the first impressions, what is next?
We are new movers to a new town, relocating from another country (where we lived for 7 years), and have no personal friends.
After a few weeks, we were asking ourselves about how do we go about meeting people, learning more about the church, and even where do we begin to make a friend.
Sunday morning was simply too busy moving people around between services for any friendships to form.
There was no clear directions for us about where to start.
- Does this church have small groups, life groups, bible studies, or something?
- Is there a “Getting to know our church” type class?
- Is there a gathering with the pastor at some point?
- Is there a meal where I might sit at table with another family?
As a church visitor, our family doesn’t know all the answers to these questions. We don’t know where to go next.
So we quit going.
We wanted to invest in the life and mission of this church. We tried going several weeks to learn about it’s mission and work. We visited six times.
We listened for any relevant announcements. We looked for things things in the bulletin. We never received any literature from the church about next step opportunities.
We tried one Saturday event spending 3-4 hours with church people on a work day. Our children visited the youth group for 6-8 weeks.
And that the end of all that, we still didn’t have a friend.
We couldn’t get in.
What Your Church can do to overcome this
Here is the question to think about.
How easy is it for your repeat visitor to make a new friend?
Follow up questions to this are
- What programming exists where newcomers can make a friend?
- How clear are you in communicating that to your newcomers?
Clear next steps are not hard.
One church gave out coupons to their Wednesday night supper.
One church invited visitors to serve with them in the community on the 4th Saturday, plus bring a friend to help serve.
One church invited us to a guest luncheon at the pastor’s house along with other newcomers for the month.
One church we visited followed this step:
- Sent us a handwritten thank you note plus a free meal coupon at Chik-Fil-A
- Sent us a letter from the pastor inviting us to a homemade breakfast on the 1st Sunday of the month.
- Called us to personally invite us to that breakfast.
- At that breakfast, the pastor introduced a little about the vision and mission of the church, and clearly pointed us to a 101 type class.
That church has thought through their process and we are finding ourselves naturally making friends with other newcomers as we experience this process together.
Each church clearly communicated to their newcomers about the one simple next step the visitor could take to get to make a friend.
Mark Waltz phrases it this way:
“In short, how does your church move people from visiting to belonging? The answer to that question is a bigger deal than a guest’s first or second visit to your church. Helping people experience the reality of belonging-to God and others-in a way that causes them to live for God and others is kingdom of God-sized stuff. That’s a really big deal.” (Lasting Impressions: From Visiting to Belonging, by Mark Waltz).
Read more: The best church visitor assimilation tool.
Now is a good time for church visitor assimilation training.
Since the Christmas season and New Year’s are coming soon, your church will have lots of first time visitors coming. It is time to review your assimilation strategies and think of intentional ways to utilize the season to impact the life of your local visitor who is looking for a church family.
It is time to refresh your vision for church visitor welcoming and integration strategies.
Are you ready to receive these visitors?
Download this webinar class ($10), you will learn:
- How Personal Invitations Impact Assimilation
- How to Open the Front Door of Welcome
- 5 Must Have Tools for Effective Assimilation
- How to Close the Back Door and Keep them Coming
- Some of the specific questions generated by the audience:
- How do you get this vision into the congregation.
- What do I do with a chronic hugger?
- How often should you train volunteers?
- How do you get your church leaders on board with this?
- What are key elements to a action plan for a church that has none?
- DO you have a book list you recommend?
- Do you have anything that addresses specifically the subject of assimilation of new members into the church family?
- We have an old lady that insists on hugging all the new people who come to church. Is this good/bad. How to address this? Some members thinks this repels new people. Help!
- Is the gathering only for new visitors, or any congregants? Specific members turn to stay?
- What’s the best way to identify a new guest (besides visual observation)?
I want to share insights I’ve gained over the last 15 years to help you plan to help some of your visitors move towards regular attendance.
Click on the big button below and you’ll be taken to the page in the EvangelismCoach.org store to add it to your cart.