It has been succinctly observed that you only have one chance to make a good first impression. In church growth polls, church guests have been asked if they would return and their response was directly reflective of how friendly they perceived the church to be. So what can a church do to ensure that every guest has a favorable first visit?
If you have parking problems at your facility, consider lot attendants to make parking easier. Also consider designated guest parking spaces near the entrance. An “Umbrella Brigade” can provide umbrellas to guests as they are getting out of their cars when it rains.
A smiling face, warm greeting and a firm hand shake as they open the door for guests truly makes a great first impression.
Greets guests as they arrive, provides guest packets, points out key locations (restrooms & nursery), fills out guest cards for them, and introduces them by name to an usher.
Finds guests a seat on the aisle, about half way down (easier to respond to altar call), introduces guest to those sitting near, then discreetly reminds 3-4 people (without guest seeing) that a guest has arrived and if they could, to go by and greet them. Guest names are placed on a “guest map” showing where they are sitting and this is taken to pastor during praise service. Usher remains on duty during altar service to thank guests for coming and invite them back and might even ask about their interest in a home Bible study (HBS).
Continually encourages saints to look for guests and to engage them in conversation. Many churches have a “greet your neighbor” time during service. Most pastors try to personally greet guests after service. Churches have also seen good success with a “Coffee with the Pastor” time following services. All guests are encouraged to come.
Guest Follow-Up Ministry
Every guest should receive a phone call within 24 hours, a letter within three days, and a home visit within seven days. Do not call first. Just drop by with a gift and invite back, ask for a HBS, ask if they have any prayer requests (if they do, pray with them before departing). There should be 3-4 subsequent home visits made during the next twelve months (put at least three months between each home visit).