1. Invite a Mystery Shopper
Sure, you love your church. You admire your church’s leadership, the warmth of your members, and spiritual growth you’ve experienced as a result of both. All that love and admiration, however, can result in a “rose-colored glasses” effect. Solve this by inviting a friend or family member who is unfamiliar with your church—but willing to be honest—to visit. Ask that person to evaluate what their first impressions are of the buildings, the children’s church, the website, the welcome team, the order of service, the sermon, everything. Do this a few times with different “mystery shoppers” to zero in on areas that turn off visitors. Look for ways to make your church as inviting as possible to a newcomer during this fall attendance boost so they’ll come back again and again.
2. Answer a Need
As you plan your fall sermon series, consider your audience. Prayerfully consider what your congregation and visitors may be struggling with in their lives. Would a marriage series be a good fit? Would families benefit from a series on priorities and keeping a kingdom perspective in their busy schedules? Or would your people learn valuable lessons from Bible leaders who faced challenges? Or perhaps your people would benefit from a series on how to create a personal Bible devotion time. By answering a need, you help visitors connect with your church while reminding them of the value of attending church on a regular basis.
3. Communicate Clearly
Don’t make visitors search for information about your church. Keep information like your statement of faith, service times, children’s church schedule, youth schedule, leadership bios, and ministry opportunities easily accessible on your website and social media. When newcomers have to search for these answers or find out about ministry events after the fact or don’t know which leader is over which outreach, the church can quickly take on a “country club” feel. Visitors will perceive that only members are welcome, and newcomers are on the outside looking in. If you don’t want people to stop coming after a few visits, communicate clearly so visitors know how to navigate your church.
4. Identify and Welcome Visitors
Train your welcome team to spot visitors and make them feel welcome. Offer them a welcome gift, like a coupon for a free drink in your café or a welcome packet with information about your church. Help them find their seats, check their children into kids’ church, and introduce their teens to the youth pastor. This attention shouldn’t be limited to first-time visitors either. Often newcomers will spend several weeks getting familiar with your church and deciding whether or not it will be their church home. If they are welcomed the first week, but ignored the following, they will likely stop attending at all. For more ideas on welcoming visitors, download our free ebook, “How to Make Visitors Feel Welcome.”
5. Follow Up
Even before the fall boost begins, determine how you will follow up with newcomers. Will you send them an email, or series of emails? Will you have a small group leader invite them to coffee at your café before church the next week? Will you send them a handwritten welcome note from a pastor? This kind of follow up makes people feel special and wanted. And with the right church management software, like FellowshipOne, it becomes even easier to flag visitors and automate follow up with them, making it harder for visitors to fall through the cracks. Click here for a free demo and see how a ChMS like FellowshipOne can help you maximize your ministry growth.
Make the most of your church’s fall attendance boost. Put these solutions into practice so your visitors feel welcome and included. If you need a ChMS that allows you to track and follow up with visitors, contact us. Our team would be happy to show you how our solution can make connecting with visitors easier and more effective.