Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests into Fully-Engaged Members of Your Church.
This book is sure to be on the top of the list for Church Visitor Assimilation texts.
Comparing a Ferrari to a Pinto
Note: I read Beyond the First Visit: The Complete Guide to Connecting Guests to Your Church, Gary McIntosh (see my review at Assimilating Church Visitors- Beyond the First Visit).
To make a comparison between the two books is like comparing a Ferrari to a Pinto.
There are several key elements to Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests into Fully-Engaged Members of Your Church that have made their visitor retention rate so astronomical.
I write about one idea for Survey First Time Visitors.
The entire process is laid out simply in this book (along with lots of shameless plugs for Searcy’s other materials – get on his mailing list and receive way too many promos and product pitches).
Visitors are gifts from God
His beginning point is to recognize that in God’s sovereignty, every visitor is a Gift to your church. They didn’t show up by chance. But rather, as a gift, and “first time gifts full of unparalleled potential.”
How can we turn them into developing members?
“By sending that guest to you, God is giving you the privilege of cooperating with Him to move someone forward in their journey toward Jesus.”
What visitor retention rate do I need to reach?
Searcy leads us on a practical exercise. If you are reading this, think about your church. To help you bench mark, statistics suggest that each year a church needs to keep
- 3 guests /100 attenders to maintain itself
- 5 guests / 100 attenders to steadily grow
- 7 guests or more / 100 attenders to rapidly grow
Considering your church, how many guests do you need to keep each year?
How well do you retain church visitors now?
What is your retention ratio?
More specifically, here are 6 facts to dig up for your church
- Average attendance per month 2 years ago.
- Average attendance same month 1 year ago.
- What is your annual growth? Hopefully, the second number is higher than the 1st.
- How many first time guests did you have during the past year?
- Divide your growth / the total number of first timers.
How many visitor you keep?
The basic assimilation system that is presented in Fusion is a simple (in overview anyway).
- Turn a first time guest into a second time guest.
- Turn a second time guest into a regular attender.
- Turn a regular attender into a fully developing member.
The entire rest of the book explores this process and system as it has developed at The Journey church.
The temptation will be to simply buy the book and implement the process as if the process is the key that will solve all your visitor retention problems. That is systems thinking and treating this system as the next big thing.
Searcy concedes “the church is not a business,” yet in the same sentence adds “[but] we would be smart to take some cues from the consumer-conscious service world.” This is a solid “nuts and bolts” resource for congregations and ministries alike.
You will need to tweak it for your local context.
For example, their process is very dependent upon email and it is of utmost priority to capture email addresses from their visitors. Their system depends on it. Yet some of you may have churches in areas and with people who still don’t use email. How will you adjust the system to your context?
There are so many variables in visitor retention, including the system. (Read 4 Variables in Church Hospitality)
Others include the friendliness of the congregation, presentation of the facilities, and more.
This book is not the magic happy pill to solve your visitor retention problems, but rather provides a step by step system to at least help with the data gathering and processing to help you “process” visitors.
Of the books I have read on visitor retention, this one presents the best system I have seen.
Add Searcy’s Fusion Book to your library
Order your copy of Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests into Fully-Engaged Members of Your Church direct from Amazon (Affiliate link).
One change to the summary above: the number of first time visitors to attract is 3 (or 5, or 7) per 100 per week, not per year.