Retention Tips

Hold on to first-time guests (7 retention tips)

Welcoming first-time guests to your church, and encouraging them to return, involves thoughtful planning and intentional actions. Here are seven practical steps to help ensure that first-time guests become long-term members of your church community:

1. Warm and Personal Greetings

   – Whether a first-time guest becomes a long-term member, often starts in the initial 30 minutes after arriving on campus. Start your greeting in the parking lot with clearly-marked guest parking and a friendly welcome. Then, encourage and teach your members to be welcoming all the time! 

   – Provide clear signage to key areas, such as the worship center, restrooms, and children’s ministry. Use these opportunities to establish a branded look for your church. Control fonts, colors, and logos!

2. Engaging Worship Experience

   – Craft a worship service that connects God to those listening. Be sure to genuinely welcome everyone from the stage (resist calling out individuals though).

   – Ensure that the music, message, and atmosphere resonate with your community. Remember that most people will visit online before stepping foot on your property. So, improve online sound and video quality!

3. Information, Church Tours, and Meet the Pastor Opportunities

   – Prepare simple, professional, downloadable, and printed information that includes details that first-time guests need. Understand that a guest will rarely want to be seen as a guest until they want to be recognized. Be ready for that moment (online and in-person). Ensure your information is easy to discover.

   – Are you a large church? Offer guided church tours after the service. If you know you have new people in your service make it compelling to meet the Pastor.

4. Connect Through Small Groups

   – Encourage first-time guests to join small groups or connect with a newcomers’ class. People seek a genuine community to build relationships. Just don’t make a group feel like a permanent decision.

   – Visitors won’t keep returning unless they know people. Belonging starts by connecting newcomers with existing members who share similar interests or life stages. Make this a goal.

5. Follow-Up Communication

   – Ask for contact information. And make it worthwhile for them to give information. Be upfront about your follow-up and do it consistently. Express gratitude for their attendance and inquire about their experience.

   – Keep communication ongoing through regular emails and social media updates. Share upcoming events, sermon series, and ways to get involved in the church community. Don’t just promote though; be sure to entertain too! And always have your website up-to-date for people to know what’s going on.

6. Volunteer Opportunities

   – Invite first-time guests to volunteer in appropriate church activities. This not only provides them with a sense of purpose and involvement but also helps them build relationships with existing members.

   – Share the impact of volunteering by tell compelling stories. Always end stories with a simple invitation for others to volunteer. Ensure your website and social media makes the process easy to do.

7. Feedback Mechanism

   – Create an easy avenue for feedback where first-time guests (and members) can share ideas and experiences anonymously. Use this feedback to continually improve your welcome and retention process.

In summary, creating an environment that fosters connection and engagement is essential for turning first-time guests into long-term members. From the initial greeting to ongoing communication and involvement opportunities, each step plays a crucial role in building a thriving church community. Remember, the goal is not just to attract church visitors but to make them feel at home in your church family.

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