How to handle first-time visitors

Every new visitor that arrives at your church is a chance to add another brick in the spiritual temple you and your church are building. Failure to carry out these few basic steps may result in the first-time visitors feeling unwelcome, confused or rejected.

Welcome station

No matter what size church you manage, ensure that someone is available to welcome newcomers at the door. A friendly smile during the introduction along with basic instructions of where they should go, where the coffee station and toilets are and what they should expect will really help settle their minds about what to expect.

It is important to note that some people shy away from welcomers and it is the job of the welcomer to take note of this. If they feel that the person they are welcoming is incredibly shy or guarded, ensure that you keep your welcome message short and sweet and not overstay your welcome in their personal space.

After service

After the service, it is imperative for all leaders to seek out newcomers and actively make their way over to them to welcome them. Invite the new congregants to have a coffee or tea with you so that you can get to know them better.

This is the perfect opportunity to take down their details (so they may be added to the church app later), and understand their background and where they previously went to church. It is normally during these conversations that you identify what issues they faced with at a previous church, or where you find out that you are the first church they decided to join. It is crucial for you to actively listen to them and allow them to do the talking. Don’t try jump in with theology at this point, simply listen and ask short, open-ended questions, such as:

  • How did you find our church?
  • What made you visit us today?
  • Have you been to any churches before ours?
  • Is there anything you found particularly helpful with today’s service?

Avoid asking things such as “what do you do for a living?” and “whereabouts do you stay?” as this will most likely lead to the first-time visitor feeling as if you are only asking to gauge their tithing potential based on their job and address. Keep it simple and neutral.

Administration

Ensure that you gather the first-time visitors’ information such as names and cell phone numbers so that they can be added to your church administration solution as well as your church app. Getting them on the system as soon as possible is crucial to ensuring they stay in the loop and feel connected to their new choice of church.

No matter what size church you run, following the above steps will ensure that each newcomer feels welcomed and settled. This is one of the most vital aspects of church growth and failure to treat first-time visitors well will result in a negative growth rate of your church.

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