Moving Visitors to Members: 5 Tips for Church Attendance
One of the biggest challenges church leaders face today is how to engage their people long term. It’s much easier to draw someone in for a one time event or short series; it’s so much more difficult, however, to keep them actively engaged and attending your church for the duration.
It’s the question that plagues so many of us:
How do we move our people from simply being visitors to full-time attendees?
How do you go from simply having a distant, short-term relationship with your visitors to having a long-term, committed relationship with them as full-time attendees? That’s the challenge: to move people beyond that initial first visit or short span of attendance at your church to becoming regular, engaged, active members of what’s happening in the life of your church.
So how do you do it?
Well, there are probably a lot of ways to approach it, but here are just five things we think you could do to help you engage your people for a long-term relationship at your church.
1. Create an environment.
What’s the first thing you notice when you enter a new place? A warm welcome, an easy atmosphere, a friendly face? All that really adds up to one thing: the environment.
People will want to attend your church more than just a few times when they feel comfortable in the environment you’ve created there. So for starters, think about your church’s environment. Look at it as if you’re looking at it for the first time. Is the space easy to move around? Can you easily find your way to major places like the auditorium, student ministry, or kid’s area? Is it clean? Is there enough space for people to sit? It may sound simple, but it’s a great way to view your environment through the eyes of a visitor and make sure you’ve created a space where they feel welcome and comfortable time and again.
(Bonus: Make sure your church website is a welcoming environment for visitors as well!)
2. Put your best people out front.
Creating the right environment is just the start. A great environment is nothing without great people to fill it! That’s why, when you’re working to draw in your visitors and keep them coming back, it’s important to put your best people out front.
Your key volunteers and staff will play a huge part in engaging people on a Sunday morning. They are the face of your church to most people every single week and putting the best people on the front lines to greet, guide, and get to know your congregation is key to keeping people coming back. Those friendly, helpful, smiling faces will do everything from simply greeting guests to walking them to their seats to providing them information about your church to giving them support when they’re in need. They’re the ones who will help draw your people in week after week as they get to know them on a personal level.
3. Don’t make them feel different.
Nobody wants to feel like an outsider. It’s awkward, it’s weird, and it’s definitely not a feeling that makes you want to come back to a place again and again. So be careful not to make your visitors feel that way when they come to your church.
Don’t user “insider” terms. Be careful to speak a language that all can understand. Avoid only greeting or speaking to the faces you know. Instead, go out of your way to make all people at your church feel welcomed, included, and a part of what’s happening at your church, no matter how many times they’ve attended. A simple introduction or explanation that lets people know what’s happening at your church will go a long way in making them feel comfortable and that feeling of comfort will keep them wanting to return.
4. Give a clear point of connection.
When people feel invested in or connected to something, they’re much more likely to return. So to increase your attendance and move your people toward regular, engaged activity at your church, you’ve got to make sure they feel connected to something or someone from the start. To do that, make sure you offer a clear point of connection for people—something they can do quickly and simply. Maybe it’s to follow your church on social media. Or maybe it’s to fill out a card with their information to drop off before they leave. Maybe it’s to stop by a table for guests in the lobby. Keep it simple, something they can do in an easy way to get connected without making too much of a commitment.
5. Don’t forget the follow up.
This may be the most important thing you can do to keep your people coming back and eventually engage with your church. You’ve got to follow up! If your visitors take the step to connect with you, you’ve got to take the step to follow up with them. Because a personal follow up will go a long way to keep them coming back for more at your church.
A simple phone call. A short email. A handwritten note. Even a quick text message will work! Whatever it is, make a point to have someone on your staff follow up with the visitors who leave their information. If you want to see your attendance boosted and more people engaged in the ministry of your church, then you’ve got to make sure you do your part to make them feel welcomed, seen, and known at your church.