The number one thing churches can do to get visitors to come back

The number one thing churches can do to get visitors to come back 640 426 The Provisum Group

A few months ago, I was talking with a pastor friend of mine who was lamenting that his church was having trouble getting more visitors to come back to his church. By all accounts, it sounded like he was doing everything right. He had his most enthusiastic members on his welcome team. It appeared he checked all of the boxes.

One service offered by the Provisum Group is to have our staff secret shop a church. We call it a “Visitor Audit”. We sent a member of our communications team to visit my friend’s church to see where the disconnect might be.

My friend’s welcome team was on point. They saw a new face enter the church and quickly welcomed him. He said he and his family was moving to the area and he was church shopping before the move. They offered him a tour of the facility and showed him the fabulous children’s ministry. They introduced him to the nicest people you could imagine in the nursery.

They gave him a number of pamphlets about all of the great activities the church had to offer and walked him to the sanctuary.

After service, they sought him out and asked him how he liked the service and told him about the neighborhood and where the best restaurants and parks were.

Finally, he said to them, “Everyone here is so nice. How do I connect with this church?” There was a noticeable pause. It was clear no one was prepared to answer that question.

Right there was the critical flaw in my friend’s welcome plan. He had all of the right people in all of the right spots doing all of the right things but his team never considered asking for a way to connect with the people who visited their church. They just assumed that everyone wanted to be a part of their church and never thought, “How do we keep the conversation going after that first visit?”  “How do we stay in touch with this person after they leave Sunday service?”

When our team does a Visitor Audit, one of the “must do’s” is they have to leave contact info with someone or die trying.  You might be surprised how often our team has to proactively and diligently work to leave contact information with a church and how rarely churches actually follow up. We also ask the pastor before we come, what he/she thinks our visitor experience will entail. I can tell you we rarely experience what the pastor thinks we should.

Now my friend’s church has improved their welcome process and asks for contact information at every service. They have a well-designed email autoresponder campaign that feeds new email addresses into their newsletter but none of this would matter without someone first asking, “How can we connect with you?”

Capturing contact information and responding to it is the first step in disciple making.