Every church should have a constant stream of new people through its doors. People exploring faith should feel welcome in our churches. Never get it twisted; everything about visitors is also in the core mission of the church. The church is one place that exists for people who are not yet in it. Thus, guests, visitors, VIPs or whatever you call them matter, a lot. Engaging visitors after they visit your church is important. It is core to the assignment Jesus gave his Church.
So, it matters that church websites are up to date. That they are not still encouraging people to attend that 2013 outing. It is also important that church websites reflect an experience at their church well. (Rethink those stock photos and videos.) Make sure that your church times, locations and other details are accurate.
So, visitors have made the trip to your church. What happens next? Some churches ask visitors to identify themselves so that congregants are aware of them and hopefully they can welcome them. Some churches ask them to visit a specially designated area for a chat over coffee.
Visitors are also asked to give contact details. And then, the church, in turn, will be in touch or, to use a more popular term, can ‘connect’ with them soon.
All these efforts are attempts to reach people. As important as they are, some may find them invasive, uncomfortable, awkward, and, even scary. Some may find it too emotionally taxing to have people ‘brood’ over them.
So, how do we create safe spaces for everyone? Do all of the above, with compassion, empathy; great care and consideration. There has to be more. Perhaps there is another way to engage visitors to our church.
Besides getting in touch with those who left their details, many churches overlook other opportunities of engaging visitors after visits.
Engaging Visitors After They Visit Your Church
The effort to engage, connect, get in touch, follow-up, whatever you may call it, tend to be weighed on the side of the church. The church is the one that will send an email, SMS or phone call. All this is usually generic.
What if, we’ve been engaging visitors after visits wrong? “Give us your details and we’ll add you to our mailing list or be in touch in other ways” misses a few critical things.
What If… Tables Turned
Have you thought about allowing visitors to share their impressions and experience at your church? Could we allow people to use our app to ask more about the sermon?
What if, you created a way for visitors to anonymously engage you. This could mean an extra page or form on your website. Don’t miss opportunities to understand barriers to people coming to faith. The impressions shared by a visitor could reveal a barrier to membership, for example.
Impressions shared by a visitor to your church could reveal a barrier to membership.
What if they could ask questions about what you believe, expectations of membership without signing up for a class? What if they could do a live chat with someone from your website or church app?
What if we actually committed to sharing a meal with someone who visited instead of a generic email?
Create means for visitors to our church to also engage with us on their terms.
It is obvious that visitors, especially those exploring faith, are important. Their experience from ‘checking out’ our church online, to walking in and out the doors must be done with great care. We must also make it easy for them to engage us on their terms, not just ours. Engaging visitors after they visit your church could have greater impact than how we engage them in church. Make all contact count.