The 3 Critical Things That Get 1st Time Visitors To Come Back But Your Church Isn’t Doing Well Enough

Church growth. Everyone seems to be obsessed with getting new visitors to come to your church. Rightly so to a point — you definitely want more and more people to hear the gospel in your town. And the only way to grow is by bringing in new visitors week after week.

But the truth is, all of your efforts to bring in first time visitors may be moot. 

If you are not doing the right things as a community to impress upon visitors that this is a place for them to return to and get to know more people, your church will stagnate.

Church growth does not happen with 1st-time visitors; it happens when you have 2nd time visitors consistently. Click To Tweet

There are fancy strategies and frameworks for church growth. But here are three simple yet specific things everyone in your church should be equipped to do every single Sunday.

I feel like invoking one of those infomercial call to actions right now… I guarantee that your church will grow —  that first time visitors will come back time and time again if the majority of your community authentically pursues just these three tactics consistently.

The 3 Critical Things That Get 1st Time Visitors To Come Back But Your Church Isn't Doing Well Enough

3 Critical Things That Get 1st Time Visitors To Come Back 

1) Put on your name tag. 

If you church uses name tags, I am willing to bet most people are using them incorrectly. 

Most members think they are uncool and either don’t wear them at all, or don’t put them visibly on their shirt.

And the reason is because no one has explained to current attendees about the strategic importance of wearing them.

When you connect name tags to mission, people will change their behavior.
It is more important for current church members to wear name tags than visitors.

We wear name tags so that newcomers are less intimidated to ask a question or engaging in a conversation.

We wear name tags so that 2nd time guests don’t feel embarrassed for not remembering your name from the last brief conversation we had last week or some othee recent other visit.

We wear name tags to signal to visitors that we want to talk with them. We want to welcome them. Not intimidate them.

Name tags are missional. But you need to explain to your people to stop caring about how it looks, and start caring about conversation hooks.

2) Say hello.

Yeah, literally. Say “hello” or “hi” to every single person you pass who you don’t know.

It’s the same technique and reason Wal-Mart and the Gap have a greeter at the front entrance — both for very different objectives.

They have greeters who say hello to everyone who walks in because it lets every person feel known. It is acknowledgment that you are here with us.

For retail, it is a theft prevention technique because you’re less likely to shoplift if you feel that someone is aware of your presence.

For church it is exactly the opposite. You want people to feel significant and that their visit this something that has been noticed.

While people behave like they want to be anonymous and invisible whenever they visit a church, in reality, they do want to be known. But authentically as a person. Not as a statistic, or another category”first time visitor,” etc.

It feels weird the first time trying to say hello to more than a couple of people as you walk into the building, down the hall, throughout Sunday. But again, think of the simple act as one of the most mission of things you can do.

Say hello and introduce yourself — and share your own name with them. Keep doing it, even to the same relatively new attendees until they call you on it or call you by your name.

A simple greeting is what the church needs more of on Sunday mornings.

3) Talk to strangers.

Don’t leave church without talking to someone you don’t know behind a smile. Beyond a greeting. Beyond a head nod. This will seem impossible at first. But you need to get over it.

Everyone considers themselves to be friendly. But the truth is is that you are only really friendly with people that you are already friends with.

The trick is to be friendly with people you don’t know well – consistently.

Chatting it up – taking the initiative to strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know – every Sunday is one of the most impactful things you can do toward church growth.

It is surprising how many churches I have visited where no one has talked with me the entire visit, aside from imposing a new visitor / connection card on me to fill out.

1st time visitors don’t grow a church. Repeat visitors do. And unless you make the experience personal with a greeting and conversation, the easier it is for them to blow off a second visit. And more importantly don’t forget, its group effort!


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