Creating a Learning Network for Community Builders!

You only get one chance to give a first impression to fist-time guests who come through you church doors. They are subconsciously taking in everything from the appearance of your facility to their first interactions with the people in your church. The first step to controlling your first impressions is to pray for the guests who will be coming. Pray for the people you haven't met yet, but that God is working on to send them to your church. Pray for the people who you know have been invited to come. And pray for the people and ministries in your church that will have an immediate impact on them when they arrive.

According to the studies used in Kingdom's Visitor Retention Program, most guests decide if they are going to make a second visit within the first seven minutes of their arrival in your parking lot. There are at least seven ministries that have an impact on that decision. Each one must be highly developed to intentionally extend God's welcoming hand. Here are the seven ministries that you can pray about, then with God's help learn to control.

1. Church friendliness - that is the friendliness of the congregation toward guests
2. Parking lot attendants
3. Greeters
4. Ushers
5. Building and grounds - as seen through a visitor's eyes
6. Welcome table
7. Nursery

Visitors are taking in everything they see and hear from each of the ministries listed above.

What have you done in your church to develop or "guesturize" each of these ministries? We would like to hear from you so that more churches can learn to control first impressions.

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Replies to This Discussion

This VRP has been eye opening to say the least! Our church is "friendly" but we came to understand that a guest will interpret friendliness differently than we do. Here are some steps we have taken to be friendly in a way a guest will appreciate.
1. The parking attendant directs them, or if there is difficulty walking, will valet the vehicle for them. We have reserved the "best spots" for our guests.
2. The greeter hands them a bulletin, and the host introduces himself, and then introduces them to someone who has something in common with them, and this new "friend" is invited to sit with that person or family.
3. Our "welcome" person finds an opportunity before the guest leaves to give them a gift basket, and let them know how much we appreciated them being our guest, with an invite to return.

The difference in "retention" has been WONDERFUL!
Rev. David,
Thanks soooo much for your encouraging post. My wife and I recently visited a large church of 6,000 in Florida. We were so lost in such a large complex, no one greeted us at the door, and no one attended to our complete unfamiliarity with everything going on. I saw a Welcome Table with information, a Refreshment area with tables, and a Concierge Center for small group Bible study sign-ups, but we were left entirely on our own, even to the location of the restrooms not so well marked. I didn't know what I could take for free or if I had to pay for certain materials. No signs of any kind directed us around. I purposefully stood in the middle of the big lobby looking around to see if anyone would walk up to me to offer assistance. Lots of people with name tags of some sort, which were too small to read at a glance, walked past me and never acknowledged my presence. There was a Communication Card in the bulletin, but my initial unfriendly experiences dissuaded me from wanting to fill it out. There were no Gift Packs. I would have loved to have been escorted around the church and its other buildings to be given an overview of their entire ministry operation. I would have loved to have been introduced to important staff and pastors to feel like my visiting meant something to them. But I met no one. No one introduced themselves to me. When I left the parking lot, it was almost the same to me as if I had never been there. How many churches out there, big or small, leave their visitors in the same uncomfortable predicament?
Blessings, Dave Knauss
PS to the last post:
To all pastors out there reading this and you want to be sure your church does not affect visitors negatively, then join the Kingdom Visitor Retention Program contest. Click on the following link:
OR, call Kingdom to enroll in the VRP program: 800-788-1122
Blessings, Dave Knauss
I really appreciate the GREAT work you and Jerry are doing in helping coach churches to integrate visitors to active participants in the body of Christ.

I cannot tell the number of times Johnny and I have visited churches and not felt welcomed. I KNOW that people there did care, but they just didn't know a lot about showing how they cared.

Thanks for helping to close this gap!
Learning how to show how you care as a church isn't that hard. But you will have to rethink how you see your visitors. It does take training for your whole congregation. I would like to invite any pastors from churches that aren't retaining 50% - 75% of their guests to join us in the Visitor Retention Program. It has been such a blessing to see God work in the churches that are already in the program. I don't want any of you to miss out on this opportunity. The impact is probably much larger than you would imagine.

Jerry Hartman


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