Today’s blog post is written by Scott Goodger, General Manager for one of our Ministry Brands partners. Welcoming and connecting first-time guests to church is essential if you want to grow your ministry. According to Pew Research Center, 79% of people said feeling welcomed played an important role in choosing a new place of worship. Creating a great first impression is key, but so is the follow-up after they visit. How you engage your guests after they visit will determine how many return. As Back to School season approaches, churches see a surplus of newcomers, giving you a big opportunity to make a lasting guest impression. 4 Ways to Intentionally Welcome First-Time Guests: #1 – MAKE A GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION Have you ever been to a church that felt cold and indifferent, or even uncaring, when you walked in? Did you get the sense that you didn’t belong and didn’t want to come back? When a newcomer arrives at your church, you have the opportunity to make a life-changing impact through each step of the process. After all, the church is the body of Christ and each part plays a role in showing Christ-like love and compassion to someone attending for the first time. #2 – CREATE A NEW VISITOR STATION A new visitor station is a great way to have gifts and resources for new visitors right when they come in the door. While your station can help answer questions and provide information to your guests, it should never be seen as a complete replacement for a real person. #3 – TRAIN YOUR VOLUNTEERS Your people will always be at the core of your church communication and interaction with new visitors. For that reason, you need to take some time with those volunteers and ensure that they know how to welcome and represent your church to newcomers. Host a class for new volunteers to let them know how to identify and interact with new visitors as they come in. Be sure to give your volunteers some sort of identification that makes them stand out, such as badges, lanyards, or matching shirts. #4 – USE CHURCH CONNECTION CARDS Your connection card is a major tool to collect information and follow up with new visitors, but don’t overdo it and accidentally overwhelm your guests with all the information you ask for. Keep it short and sweet with what you ask your visitors to fill in. Your basic connection card should just ask for these three things: NameEmailPhone If you need more information for specific reasons, it’s best to use separate cards for different purposes. A good CHMS system will help you track all of this guest information in one secure place. 4 Ways to Intentionally Follow-Up With Guests: #1 – GATHER INFORMATION Once someone has visited or interacted with your church, go through and have a team or individual enter all the new church visitor information from your connect cards, registration forms, online forms, etc. and build a database of contacts to invite back to your church. #2 – ORGANIZE YOUR CONTACTS As you build your contact database, take time to include any specific details about the person that you know or they provided (i.e. gender, age, spiritual gifts, ministry interests, events they’ve attended in the past, etc.). As you work on communicating to your congregation, there will be times that you’ll want to specify a demographic to send your message to and connecting your contacts to specific groups will help you do that. #3 – USE TEXT MESSAGING Churches everywhere are finding text messaging to be an extremely useful tool for immediate communications, with 98% of text messages being read within the first 2 minutes. For cases where you want to send a brief message, such as a greeting or event announcement, text messaging is the perfect way to alert your recipient and get their attention. Text messages are perfect for sending a quick greeting with an introduction from the pastor, immediately after someone’s first visit and then inviting them to respond and return for the next service. #4 – FOLLOW-UP WITH EMAIL If you’re not sure what to include in your follow up email communications, some great ideas are upcoming event promotions, a thank you message for visiting, an introduction from the pastor, and more. It’s also great to include special resources like a link to a welcome video from your church or encourage them to sign up for other communications, such as the church email newsletter, so they stay informed of everything going on at your church. Make sure that your church is equipped to succeed with the best tools and resources to reach and engage your visitors, even after they’ve left your campus. Contact a Shelby Sales Consultant to find out how to manage your church guests and to help you make them full time members.