We’ve all been the new person walking into a church for the first time. It’s frightening. What if you were to walk into Starbucks and were treated like most guests are in a church?
Several years ago I came across a video called, What if Starbucks Marketed Like a Church? It’s a modern day parable of what we would feel like if we walked into a Starbucks and the doors were locked, people stared at us like we’ve never had coffee before. It’s awkward to watch.
Watch this video and we’ll discuss 4 things we should be doing in our church.
1. Be friendly.
At Life Church, we make it an aim to have someone always outside greeting first-time attenders (FTA’s) as they come to the front door. Our goal is not to be here for our friends and the people we know at church, our goal and aim is to be there for the guest as they walk into the building.
The culture in a church should be to draw attention away from the fact that yes, they’re new, but to getting to know them and making them feel welcome.
When I first meet someone I don’t know, after talking with them, I pass them off to someone else and politely excuse myself. The goal is to get them to make as many contacts as possible, that way they are not just sitting alone in an empty Sanctuary.
2. Don’t single them out publicly.
It’s hard enough being a first-time guest. It’s even more awkward when a pastor asks new guest to raise their hands. Let me be honest, people don’t like to be singled out. Guests like to blend in. They slip in the back, and duck out before amen is said.
If you have a connect card for them to fill out. Let them know that this card is a way for us to get to know them and for them to get some more information about the church. It is also a great/better idea to let them know that this is our way of praying for their needs. It’s a prayer card, not a connect card. Just a thought.
3. Send them a thank-you note.
After their visit. If they filled out the card, send them a nice hand written note, thanking them for attending your service. If you’re a larger church, have a first-time letter drafted up and make the letter about them.
People like to have the focus on themselves. The more we can make sure we’re fist communicating who we are, but what we can do for them. They want that quick win. Every first-time guest is tuned into WIFM (What’s In It For ME). But this letter/note will help them feel that you as the pastor care about them personally.
4. Touch base and invite them back.
Our goal should be to get them to return the very next Sunday. If someone visits once, they have a 10% chance of becoming a church member. If they visit two Sundays in a row, they now have a 50% chance of becoming a member. But, if they visit three consecutive Sundays they now have an 80% chance of becoming a member of your church.
This is why it’s so important to have guest visit in three consecutive weeks, because the chance of them sticking and joining your congregation increases exponentially with each corresponding visit.
Have someone touch base with them during the week. Have a church member give them a call and ask how their week is and let them know that they’ve been praying for that individual. You’ll be surprised by the response you’ll receive.
Marketing is as much about how you present yourself on a given Sunday morning to your FTA (first-time attender) as putting an ad in your local newspaper.