Keep Your Guest Coming Back

Hal Seed


The Four Steps After The First Visit

What would be the ideal way to enfold new visitors into your church’s family? This is such a critical piece of a healthy church that you don’t want to leave it to chance. Figure out a system that works well and can be repeated every week. Here’s what it looks like at New Song.


At New Song, Connection Cards are sorted and entered into the church’s online database by 4 p.m. Sunday. The Connection Card has a place to request information or express interest in various ministries. The church’s database has a notification system. Every person who indicates that he/she would like to receive further information about children’s ministry, youth ministry, becoming a Christian, getting baptized, or finding a place to serve is entered into the database, and an email is sent to the staff member in charge of each area of interest. Each email is followed up with a phone call by Tuesday evening.


The Lead Pastor is notified of every first-time guest. Each guest receives a personal email from me, sent between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Monday. Here’s what the email looks like:


I wanted to take a moment this morning to tell you that it was great having you with us at New

Song! I hope you enjoyed being with us as much as we enjoyed having you here.

How can I pray for you?

1,000 blessings,


P.S. We evaluate our services regularly would you take 90 seconds to give us some feedback on your experience here? It will take about 90 seconds – click on the Gust Survey.

P.P.S. — I hope you’ll be back this coming weekend! There’s a family in the church that likes to bless newcomers, so this coming weekend, mark the box on your Connection Card that says,

“Second time guest” and we’ll send you a gift card to Port-of-Subs on their behalf. (I wish I was a


The Guest Survey asks a few simple questions. (Click on it and you’ll see what they are.) If they fill this out, I respond to their response, like a conversation.


To further personalize the relationship, on Monday or Tuesday night, a personal, hand-written note from whoever preached that weekend goes in the mail, so that it received by Thursday morning. The note looks like this: (But Should Be Hand Written)


It was great to have you with us at New Song this weekend! I hope you enjoyed the service.

Please join us again this coming weekend as we continue our services on ____________________.

I think you’ll find it very helpful.

1,000 Blessings!

Hal Seed


Since the pastor or weekend’s preacher has made the first two contacts, we want our guests to hear from a volunteer on this phone call. A member of our “First Call Team” calls by Monday night to welcome the person. At that time, they invite the newcomer to our next R.U. New Cafe and express a hope of meeting them in person the next weekend.




Hopefully, your first-time guests will be so impressed that they’ll immediately return the following weekend. Some people will. We have found that most tend to wait a week or two before returning. When they do, continue your courtship.



After a second visit, a volunteer from the church sends an email by 2 p.m. on Monday. An email from a pastor makes a certain kind of good impression. An email from a volunteer makes a different kind of good impression, so we have volunteers send out personalized second-time guest emails. Like my first-time guest email, this second-time guest email is triggered by a notification from our Church Community Builder (CCB) database once Sun-day’s Connection Cards have been entered.


The second-time email is followed up with a hand-written note for the second-time guest, timed to arrive by Thursday. This note encourages the guest to return the following Sunday and consider joining a small group by stopping by the Small Groups Table in the lobby after church. The note includes a Port-of-Subs gift card saying, “Have a treat on us.”


Sometime within a few weeks of each first and second visit, we hold an R.U. New Café.


Growing churches have a regular forum for newcomers to get to know the pastor. Some churches hold this in the pastor’s home. Others host it at the church. It may just be our context, but I have found we attract far more guests if we host the meal at church, immediately following our final service of the morning.

People who say, “There are no free lunches in life,” haven’t visited the R.U. New Café. This is a lunch provided and prepared by loving volunteers who joyfully serve as hosts and servers for the meal. Tables are set, with a “Reserved for staff’ hat at one seat per table, to make sure that no table gets filled with only guests.

Lunch is served cafeteria style. Towards the end of the meal, a pastor stands and welcomes everyone and does the following:

  • Tells two or three minutes of our history, purpose and future.
  • Expresses how glad we are that they are with us.
  • Explains that our middle name is “Community” and we’d like them all to find relationships here. The best way to find relationships is to join a Small Group. There are sign-up cards on each table, so every guest can fill one out and expect to be invited to a Small Group that week.
  • Issues what we call our “Big Promise” — “If you will attend regularly for the next twelve months, get involved in a small group, and find a place to serve here, we promise that your life will be better a year from now.”
  • Takes any questions.

Dessert is then made available at the back. During dessert, staff members change tables so they can spend a few minutes meeting other newcomers. People leave informally after dessert.


Thirty days after a person’s first visit, he/she is called by our Assimilation Director, welcoming him/her, letting him/her know about a couple of our upcoming events, and asking about their New Song experience. The goal of this call is to encourage the person to continue to come, and if possible, to help them find a Small Group if they are not already in one.


Ten times a year, New Song holds a class for “people who want to know more about the church or would like to become members.” We have a series of discipleship classes we call “Grow Up” classes. I explain these in detail in eBook 4: Growing Spiritual People. (www.pastormentor.corrithealthy-cnurch-systemsiebooK-4-growing-spiritual-people/

The classes progress from Dirt to Roots to Trunk, Branch, and Fruit. Roots serves as our membership class. It covers the church’s mission, vision, values, theology, history and strategy and asks people who want to become members to make a commitment to participate in the church’s strategy, which includes praying, serving, inviting, and giving. website October 2015.


The above article, “Keep Your Guests Coming Back” was written by Hal Seed. The article was excerpted from

The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.

This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”