The very first visitors to our moon captured a truth for us all: small steps lead to great good for the whole. Neil Armstrong said it succinctly: “One small step for man. One giant leap for mankind.” To put the idea proverbially, there is great power in small, meaningful steps. Without a successful first step, you will see very little success in the second step.
The Crux of the Problem
So, how do we connect with and minister to each one as they walk through our doors? How do we do this effectively without scaring them away? Let’s look at how not to do it first.
How Not to Welcome First Time Visitors: Shock Them and Leave Them Alone
1. Force Them to Publicly Identify Themselves
Pastor: “If you’re here with us for the first time, please raise your hand. Church, let’s welcome these people.”
First-time Visitor: Do I raise my hand? I don’t want to raise my hand but the people around me know I’m new here. Will they judge me if I don’t raise my hand? I knew church people were judgmental. I feel more uncomfortable than ever. I should have taken a seat closer to the door. I want to get out of here, but…oh wait…this guy is walking up to me with a packet. He knows I’m new, but I didn’t raise my hand. I guess I’ll take that packet, but I’m never coming back here!
2. Fail to Execute a Follow Up Plan
There’s a Better Way
One Goal to Rule Them All
Help each visitor definitively answer the question, “What’s my next step?” after each touch point or interaction. (Read our article on a Journey Map to see the following steps laid out for you.)
Six Steps to Welcoming Church Visitors
- A brief welcome note from the Senior Pastor
- A connection roadmap with two clear next actions: fill out a welcome card and visit the guest reception after the service.
- Something that incentivises them to submit their information such as a gift card to a local coffee shop.
- Physical welcome card (located in welcome packet)
- Digital welcome card (offered at the kiosk and the welcome slide during the announcement)
- Guest reception (held weekly following the service)
Automated email – It is wise to develop an automated email campaign as a follow up from the church for every first-time visitor. (Get Tips here) While this is not necessarily personal, it ensures that some follow up will happen, which is very important after a touch point with a visitor. Consider sending it on a Thursday or Friday and include a direct invitation to attend this coming Sunday.