Every church needs to have first time guests visiting their church in order to grow. It’s not rocket science, right? To grow any organization, you have to get new customers to purchase your product. In churches, you get guests to grow or you don’t grow and stay the same. It’s that simple.
Now, we can talk all day about how to get guests to visit your church. In fact this may be a blog post for another day.
But in this post, I want to talk about how to help your guests return to your church for a second visit. I mean guests are important but second time guests are probably even more important because that shows they are seriously interested in your church.
So, how do we get guests to return to your church? Here are three ways that should help…
1. Make guests feel like part of your family
Have you ever attended a party or gathering where you didn’t feel like you belonged? You attend and you feel left out. You attend and you have no idea what those around you are talking about. It’s terrible. You feel like a third wheel.
Attending and not belonging is a feeling that no one wants to experience twice.
So…think about your church on a weekend. How do people feel when they come in?
Do guests feel like they walked into a country club filled with cliques and they are on the outside looking in? They have to join the “bubble” to belong in other words.
Do guests feel out of place with the standard of dress? Nothing is worse than dressing up on casual night or dressing casual on formal night. If I show up at a church dressed oppositely from everyone else, I probably don’t return.
Do guests feel like part of your family? Think of your biological family. You are most comfortable around them. Are guests comfortable at your church? You are loved and accepted in your biological family. Are guests loved and accepted in your church? You are spoken to and cared for in your biological family. Are guests spoken to and cared for in your church?
The key is how you make guests feel when they come. That’s the difference in them returning.
2. Follow up with all guests
I think there is a balance with follow up. You can’t be too aggressive but you can’t be too passive either. Find the balance and live in the middle.
I cannot tell you the number of times someone has told me that a church never followed up with them after they visited. It happens all of the time, but don’t let it happen to your guests.
When guests attend on Sunday, they should receive some follow up. A phone call or text message.
Hand written notes should go to all guests as a way to say thank you.
In your follow up, always invite them back a second time.
If you don’t have a good follow up plan for guests, you probably don’t have many second time visits. They go hand in hand.
3. Aim to inspire your guests
I love moments where I feel inspired. You do too. We have all seen a viral video that inspired us or heard a speech that inspired us.
How do those moments make you feel?
Inspired to take a step toward something better.
Inspired to change.
Inspired to make a difference.
Inspired by the experience.
Inspired to act and try to change the world.
Let me ask you a question, does anyone leave your church feeling inspired to do any of those things? If not, I bet you don’t have many second time guests visit.
Much of what churches do on a weekend should be well planned out to seek to inspire people.
Look, I get the theology tension with this one. The Holy Spirit does the changing, but we are still responsible for crafting services that give the Spirit a clear path to do His thing. We are responsible for crafting helpful messages that engage audiences to live a life that reflects the truths of the Bible. Now it’s between them and the Holy Sprit whether or not they apply the truths, but we can be instrumental in making the pathway easier for them.
So start being creative in your weekend service.
Plan your music in ways that can inspire them. Sing to inspire your audience. Inspire them with the way you give announcements or in the way you celebrate.
Motivate your audience to change. Dream with your audience about what it would look like in their life if they applied what Jesus says about your topic for that weekend.
Create meaningful prayer times in your service.
People are searching for moments, and church should be one of the best moments of their week.
The problem is most churches put little thought into their weekend experience. It becomes routine.
When the weekend becomes “just routine” to your staff, it becomes “boring” to your audience.
So, every week, seek to inspire.
So to review, if you want guests to return for a second visit, these three things are super important to make that happen: 1) Make them feel like part of your family 2) Follow up with all guests 3) Aim to inspire your guests
You do these three things, and I bet in 3-4 months, you see several guests return for a second visit which will then lead to GROWTH in your church which is what we all want to see!