Keeping Church Visitors

Thom Rainer of LifeWay came out with a recent article on the 10 primary reasons church visitors do not return to a particular church after visiting — all based on a recent survey of church visitors.  I found the article fascinating.  Some of the reasons I have observed — and tried to correct — for years.  Others I found surprising.  Let’s review the first 5 this week, and then the last 5 next week.

1. The No. 1 reason people do not return to a church, according to the survey, is when the church has a stand-up-and-greet-the-visitors time during the worship service.  I not only found this surprising, as Dr. Rainer did, but I believe it is a misunderstanding.  I have always felt that visitors do not like to be singled out — where the visitor is asked to stand; or the church members all stand, while the visitors remain seated.  People do not like that.  I don’t like that when I visit a church.  But I believe that is the way the survey must have been interpreted.  Otherwise, I don’t think visitors mind at all a hand-shake moment while everyone is standing.

2. Unfriendly church members.  We strive to avoid this all the time.  I think too often church members become “self-centered” and pre-0ccupied, rather than reaching out to introduce themselves to visitors.  The best way, of course, is to introduce yourself, rather than asking, “And who are you?”  LOL.  That happened to me once — and I was the visiting candidate to become the new pastor.  A ministerial staff member — rather than introducing herself, said to me, “And who are you?”  I kid you not.

3. Unsafe or unclean children’s areas.  I have seen this happen.  Very important.  Sometimes during an interim period (between pastors), older members hold the church together — but they may tend to neglect the children’s area (since they are not over there — having no children of their own anymore).

4. No place to get information.  No problem at our church.  We have a central welcome center in the main lobby, plus a website, etc.  But I have seen it where this was a problem.

5. Bad church website.  This is surprisingly common.  Too often a church website will list previous staff members, no listing of new staff members, old calendars, out-dated info, etc.  At our church we have worked diligently to bring our website up-to-date and keep it current.  In this day and age, I am far more interested in having accessible and accurate info on a website, than on signs on the doors or on the street.  Most people today will check what time services are scheduled by going to the website.

Interesting insights!  We’ll look at Nos. 6 through 10 next week.

Pastor Jim

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