We all have asked ourselves the question, “How do we better engage visitors when they visit our church?” Well, I wish there was an easy way to answer the question, but to be honest, there is no easy button on this one. It takes a lot of planning, training, and strategy to do it right. However, I hope these strategies I’m going to share with you can get you started in the right direction.
For starters, you have to realize that the average time a visitor decides if they will come back or not is only 10 minutes. That means before they ever hear that amazing worship set the team has been practicing all week for, or the life-changing message that your pastor has been working on, they have already decided whether or not they will return.
That is scary. 10 minutes is all we have to reach a new visitor and make them feel like they’re at home. You’re probably asking yourself where you get started and how to make the most of those 10 minutes.
Well… I am glad you asked! Here are 4 key areas you should consider:
Use Your Website to Engage New Church Members
Your website is most likely the very first impression you will have with visitors. That means you want to make sure your website is visitor-focused. There are a few ways that you can go about doing this on your own, but having someone audit your website is always a great start. Most of the time, we are too close to the website and what makes sense to us doesn’t always make sense to visitors.
Here are some things to think about:
- Create a Plan Your Visit / What To Expect Page on your website walking visitors through what to expect when they visit and how to go about planning their visit.
- Ensure service times are clearly visible on the home page and easy to find. Visitors who are rushing out of their homes want to know how to get to your church and when service starts. Make it easy for them.
- Don’t forget about the kids! Make sure your Kid’s Ministry has an accessible page that answers frequently asked questions, such as: how child check-in works, the safety of your kids’ area, and more. You want visitors with kids to know that their children will be safe, secure, and will have a great time learning about God.
- Pro Tip: Make sure you are using a high quality kid’s ministry curriculum that has great visuals and is scripturally-based.
Engage New Members in the Parking Lot
Let’s be honest, this is usually one of the very last things on our list and I understand why. When thinking of volunteering, most people want to volunteer on the worship team, as an usher, or something that is more… (how do I say it?) fun. However, churches need to showcase the importance of the parking team and the amazing impact they have on the first impressions for our visitors.
Here are some things to consider:
- Have clear signage and directions so that new visitors can easily find a parking spot.
- Use pop signs for a fun way to greet visitors and regular attendees, alike. Youth love helping with them, too, and it is a great way to get them involved.
- Designate specific parking spots for new visitors near the front so they get the best spots and make sure there is adequate handicap parking.
These are just a few examples of things you could do. The most important thing here is to get your team built up and share the vision for what the parking team means for first impressions.
Engage New Members with a Gift Bag
Who doesn’t like to get a free gift? Honestly, this point could be a whole article on its own. The power of a gift bag cannot be understated. Not only can you bless new visitors, but you can also get some important information in their hands right away.
Now let’s talk strategy.
- Require visitors to fill out a “new here” card before giving them the gift. This gets their contact information and gives you a chance to provide a personalized follow up to engage them and invite them back.
- Pro Tip: Church management software helps you handle follow-up in a way that allows you to focus on ministry and using technology to your advantage. If your church does not have church management software yet or need one that can better suit your needs, there are some incredible options out there. Be sure to check out Elexio and take advantage of their free 60-day trial!
- Make the bag bright! When picking the bag to put your gift in, you want to make sure it stands out in the crowd (usually with your church’s main brand color) so that all of your volunteers and staff will be able to spot the new visitors and make opportunities to welcome them and answer their questions.
- Make the gift about them, not you. This is your opportunity to get creative. Most churches do a coffee mug with their logo on it. Consider making the gift feel a little more special and unique.
Engage New Members with Pre-Service Slides & More
Let’s talk about pre-service. This is a great opportunity to communicate some of the most important next steps a visitor can take. You want to make sure that you have engaging slides, a well-designed bulletin, a “new here” card, and a tithe envelope. These should all be accessible from the comfort of their seat in the auditorium/sanctuary. Now that the visitor is in your service, you want to make sure that you have given them everything they need to succeed.
For example, if during your announcements you greet all your new visitors and encourage them to fill out a “new here” card, but they don’t have one in front of them, you most likely have missed the opportunity to get their contact information to do a follow-up with them. Another example is to make sure one of your pre-service slides lets visitors know you have a gift for them in the lobby and to pick it up on their way out.
With pre-service being such an important opportunity for you to engage your visitors, I am really excited to be able to give away a free pack that you can use. Our amazing design team has put together a pack full of pre-service slides, a “new here” card, and a tithe envelope. All easily editable and customizable so you can use it starting this Sunday.
Download Free Graphics
So what are you waiting for? Start implementing some of these strategies as soon as you can in your church and start to see more visitors become regulars. You really have nothing to lose.