We get asked about how to turn visitors into returning guests pretty regularly. Over the years, we’ve been gathering some of the best ideas we’ve seen.

Recently, I put together a string of some of the best practices from first visit to membership for a pastoral student and thought it might be helpful here.

1) Visitor is greeted at the door (we recommend having outside greeters).

2) If the guest is recognized as a visitor, the greeters walk with them and introduce them to someone in the lobby (who takes over the hospitality piece).

3) Visitors are invited to have coffee/tea/hot cocoa and refreshments (always available) in the lobby. More introductions are made.

4) During worship, the Connection Card is introduced and the $5 gift to the food bank for completed first-time visitor cards is emphasized (every week).

5) Visitor is introduced to the pastor at the close of service by whomever was last contact.

6) IF the visitor filled out the Connection Card, write a Thank You note on Sunday afternoon and use a wax seal on the envelope. The address is emailed to the gift delivery team and they take a branded bag with a branded Honey Pot, flashlight, pen, and info about the church that afternoon.

7) On Monday, the visitor’s email address is entered into a MailChimp that triggers a series of five emails that go out over the next three weeks.

8) On Monday, the note the pastor wrote goes into the mail.

9) On Thursday, a member writes a note to the visitor inviting them to return.

10) If the guest returns the following week, a member of the Lunch Team invites them to lunch that week or the following week.

11) If they return a third time, they’re invited to the next Getting Acquainted Class with the pastor and staff.

12) If they attend the Getting Acquainted Class, they hear the gospel and are given a no-pressure invitation to make some sort of a decision about baptism, membership, enrolling in a Life Group, getting into a discipleship mentoring relationship, or getting involved in some other way.

This process doesn’t always turn visitors into returning guests, but processes like this improve the odds … a lot.

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Bill Tenny-Brittian

Bill has spent his adult life starting churches, transforming churches, growing churches, and transforming lives ... not necessarily in that order. He's been helping pastors and church leaders to grow their churches for over 20 years. He's the author of 10 books (and counting) and has been published in many magazines. His church growth work has landed him on Good Morning America, PRI's MarketPlace, and TBN. He's co-host of ChurchTalk.TV with his wife Dr. Kris Tenny-Brittian. Bill's been in professional ministry for over 35 years and has dedicated his life to growing the local church which he says, "... is the best delivery system for the Gospel."