Back when I was a District Superintendent, I used to get people to go and visit a church. They would come back, without telling anyone why they were there, and tell me what they thought of the service. The question I always asked them was: “Would you go back had you been a first time visitor?”
There are other ways to accomplish the same thing. Pastors can have “First Time Visitor Surveys” prepared and ask first-time visitors to fill one out.
Church experts say that a visitor knows within the first couple of minutes whether they will like the church or not. I wonder, in this time of losing church members, if we really know how to greet and welcome first time people. New people need to be greeted in the parking lot and at the front door. Also, new visitors need someone to greet them and show them around so they will know where the restrooms are, where the children go to Sunday School, and where the worship center is. Visitors don’t like to stand up and introduce themselves, but oftentimes, they like a church member to sit with them and share how the order of worship goes.
A survey might begin with something like this:
“By the way, you have a special point of view that we’re interested in: What was your first impression? Would you take a quick four question survey?”
We want our church to be a warm, inviting place for quests. In today’s world, most everyone has email. This could be emailed to visitors on Sunday afternoon or Monday. The vision of the church needs to be at the top of this email. This tells visitors they are welcome and needed.
The survey could have these four questions:
- What was your first impression of our church?
- What did you enjoy the most?
- How did you find out about our church?
- What are you praying for and may we help?
If the new visitor shows interest in your church, a visit from the pastor or key lay person or two is always important. If the new family has a youth, take a youth with you on the visit. If they have children, take a children’s Sunday School teacher. If the visiting people are a couple, take a couple to visit. Always share events with new people and invite them back.
People love to feel like they’re part of something and there is no better way to feel a part of something than to include them in what the church is doing. Getting to know your visitors will pay big dividends!
Author: Tommy Herndon