3 Keys to Turning Visitors Into Church Members

retain visitors

Clear Engagement Plans Help First-Time Attendees Feel Welcome

Key 1: Know your visitor

To retain visitors, you must first know your visitor. When people feel seen, heard, and understood, they will feel welcome and want to keep coming back. 

Here are some ways you can get to know your visitors:

1. Hold a weekly or bi-weekly meeting for newcomers after the church service so you can meet the pastor and team face-to-face. If you are still digital, you can hold virtual meetings instead.

2. Have a monthly community dinner or event for visitors to meet your team and members and hear the vision behind your church.

3. Train a welcome team to not only greet in the lobby before service, but look for visitors to engage in conversation with and pray for after service. 

4. Teach your congregants the importance of cultivating an inviting culture. When you empower your members to take on a leadership role in getting to know visitors and building relationships, the pressure will lift off the Pastor to do all things, and your church will go to a whole new level.

Questions to help you get to know your visitor: 

What are the unique issues facing your community? What are your visitors looking for? Do they want community? Solid teaching? Peace? A place to serve?

Are your visitors engaged? Are they checking out? Thoughtfully observe your visitors to see what’s working and what’s not. You shouldn’t always worry just because people check their watches, but it may be helpful to understand where you’re losing your visitors.

These questions are just a starting point, but you can use them to dive deep and better connect with your visitors.

Key 2: Know your church

People feel safe and want to stay engaged in authentic environments. And to be authentic, you need to know who you are and get clear on your identity as a church.

Knowing who you are includes knowing who you aren’t. There are a million ministries, outreaches, and spiritual disciplines. But no one believer or body can do them all. Instead of branding yourself as the church that does everything, embrace your church’s unique calling and assume the role you are called to fill.

You don’t have to be trendy. It’s normal to borrow from popular church styles and trends. There can be a success in taking a proven model and learning from it to build your own ministry. But not every church is called to be on-trend.

Make sure your branding communicates your authentic identity. Branding includes everything about the look and feel of your church, from your marketing materials to your stage design, your mission and vision, and everything in-between. Who has God called you to be as a church, and who are you called to reach? When your branding reflects the answers to these questions effectively, you’ll have a greater reach in your community and create a space for visitors to engage.

Ultimately, if you carefully cultivate authenticity, you’ll see greater levels of trust, acceptance, and happy visitors soon-to-be members.

Key 3: Add value

Adding value to your visitors will keep them coming back time and time again until they are ready to commit to becoming a member. Keeping that value going for your members will contribute to a steady congregation for years to come. 

Here are three strategies to add value to your visitors and members:

1. Create a clear plan for assisting those in need

From Outreach Magazine  Understanding Liability on Church Trips

Since people turn to churches when they are in need, you will likely receive visitors in crisis and need help with anything from marriage counseling to rent. 

2. Develop a clear process for connecting in quality relationships.

Whether through new member classes, small groups, social events, home groups, gatherings, mentoring, or discipleship, strategically plan ways to build a life-giving community. People are in desperate need of connection, and cultivating ways for your visitors and members to build relationships is a great way to add value and keep them highly engaged.

3. Give various opportunities to serve

Serving in your church is a fulfilling experience for your members and creates a sense of ownership and belonging. People are often looking to make a meaningful impact and to serve with their God-given gifts. Take some time to assess various ways people can serve. Whether it’s through helping with church social media, running the sound during service, volunteering with kids ministry, leading an outreach, greeting guests—you can get creative in providing roles that fit your members’ specific skill sets and personalities! By doing so, you will add value to both your members and your church. 

A clear path paves the way to engagement

To implement these strategies, you will need to create a clearly defined plan. Here are a few ways you can accomplish this:

• Assign responsibilities. Who is responsible for the different steps in your visitor engagement? Empower team members and church congregants to step up as leaders and find their roles to fill.

• Make sure everyone knows the plan. Get really clear on who should be when and where! Provide task sheets, calendars, or send emails to make sure things run smoothly.

• Provide all of the details. Consider times, dates, locations, and job descriptions/training. Include policies that are needed to ensure safety and clarity for various tasks.

When you put these clear processes in place, you will set yourself up to provide visitors and members with the value they’ve been looking for in a church. 

Create your own plan

You already have a heart for your visitors, so learning them should be easy. And what a relief that you get to just be yourself. Now put the two together with some clear engagement plans, and sit back and enjoy watching visitors become long-term, dedicated church members.

First published on StartChurch.com. Used by permission.