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One of the many mysteries of the church is the following lament I’ve heard from pastors all over the country: “I don’t understand why our church visitors don’t come back. We greet them in the parking lot. We help them find the nursery. Some of our members go so far as to speak to them. We even give coffee mugs and brochures!”
What went wrong here? This pastor hit all the key tasks for hospitality ministry. If the worship is engaging, WHY DON’T VISITORS COME BACK?
Church visitors don’t return for a multitude of reasons. But for churches that do all the right things, what else can they do?
I think the answer (in the form of a quandary) is that they did everything right until the guests left the building and the hospitality efforts abruptly stopped when the door closed.
They don’t come back because they don’t know your story.
You didn’t connect them with your story and your church. Mugs, magnets and glossy brochures don’t tell the story. They don’t connect church visitors to the congregation.
The crucial task is connecting them with your story after they leave the parking lot.
Connect with church visitors after they leave
Make sure church visitors know how to connect with your church online
Make sure your website and all your social media handles are published and promoted. When guests are welcomed in the service, make mention of these ways to connect, like Facebook, Twitter, or internal social networks such as The City. Make sure the addresses are printed on bulletins and any other printed materials and on the screens in worship. Make sure emails and webpages have links to all your social networks.
Use social media to reach out to church visitors
If your guests happen to sign a register or visitor pad, ask for their email address. This address does not give you permission to spam bomb them with emails, but a quick thank you is nice. More importantly, this address can help you find them on social networks and extend an invitation to join your pages. I dare say they will probably be surprised by the invitation and quite frankly would appreciate this form of communication over email because they can opt-in or out as they prefer. A social media connection not only links them to your church but more importantly to your congregation, people that they may already know in their own networks, on and offline!
Give the gift a connection
A great tool that can help bridge the connection gap with guests so they can gain a better sense of your church and its ministries is the Interactive Flash Drive.
This is inexpensive little gift does what you can’t in an initial visit; it answers all the questions about your church and begins to tell the story.
It works like a mobile app for your computer. It allows you to push fresh content to your guests. It also allows them to search for information important to them. You’ll be able to monitor what your guests are looking for so you can address their needs directly.
The Interactive Flash Drive can also be set up as an evangelism tool. Your people can give them away as they build relationships in the community.
Greeting and hospitality are still personal, one-on-one relationship building events. Today those relationships are being built online, sometimes long before we have a chance to shake hands and welcome new folks to the flock. A new generation of believers and unbelievers still seek the same Truth and Love. Now they are seeking in new ways that leverage technology to their benefit.
Maybe it’s time to file that recipe for the “Visitor’s Loaf of Bread” and start making connections that let your church visitors hear your story at their convenience in their own homes.