3 Reasons Visitors Never Come Back
Have you ever wondered why someone who visits your church one Sunday doesn’t come back the next Sunday?
You walk in to the sanctuary after Sunday school Sunday morning. Half way down the left side there is a family you’ve never seen before sitting in a pew intently studying the weekly bulletin. No other church member is sitting with them. You wonder who they are and why they’ve come to church this morning. Finally you decide that maybe pastor invited them. So, you continue on to your unofficially assigned pew.
During the time of fellowship you walk over, shake hands, and say good morning to the visitors. You notice that they are still sitting alone. However, you don’t ask their name, why they’re there, or if someone invited them. You don’t want to run them off on their first time visiting.
Next Sunday you notice they aren’t there. You ask your deacon if they know who the are. He didn’t. He assumed they were visiting someone.
After asking a few more members you discover no one knows who they were or why they attended your church last Sunday, and you’re left wondering why they didn’t come back for a second visit.
Wondering why the visitors don’t come back?
It can be very uncomfortable to walk into a church on a cold call. And yet that is exactly what a lot of people searching for a church do. They walk in the doors of churches they haven’t been invited to, where no one is expecting them, and where they have no idea what to expect of the service itself.
Since my family has been visiting churches, on cold calls, I’ve found some valuable insight to how newcomers feel and why many of them don’t come back.
Now I know that most churches have greeters. It is nice to be greeted at the door with a smile, handshake and bulletin. However, while that may seem welcoming, it is still impersonal.
I have been greeted many times in the past three months, and yet I can count how many times I’ve been asked my name or told someone else’s name. Even less than that number is the number of people who have asked why we are visiting. I’m not even sure if anyone has…maybe one.
No one has asked for our phone number or to take us to lunch after the service.
Love God and love people. Jesus is a personal Savior. John 4 finds him meeting a Samaritan woman at a well. That conversation was a bit personal. He even bypassed the name exchange. He shared salvation, asked her to go get her husband, and then the conversation got real.
So, why do we sneak peaks from under our eyelashes at visitors in pews across the sanctuary? Offer them some water, discover their needs, and be the church!
Let’s be honest. Every church is different. Some congregations sit through the whole service. Some stand for all of worship. Some do an up and down thing cued by music.
Most, have unofficial assigned pews.
Then there are those special things, like offering and communion. Every church is different.
No visitor wants to do the wrong thing and offend the church. Who is responsible for making sure your visitors have someone to coach them through the service. Be a Barnabas (Acts 9:27) to someone!
You know those people who didn’t ask for my phone number? Well, they also didn’t invite me back for Sunday night service, Wednesday night Bible study, Sunday school next week, or to visit a small group. And since they didn’t get my contact information, well, they won’t be following up with me anytime this week, either.
Sure, many churches ask visitors to fill out a contact card and place it in the offering plate. Typically that results in a mailing of some kind thanking you for visiting and offering contact information if you’d like any other information about the church. Again, like the greeter, this is somewhat impersonal, and only a few will actually reach out to you for more information.
There’s no face, no voice, no human to this contact. You acknowledged my presence, but you didn’t truly invite me into a community. I don’t feel welcome, I feel like a potential number.
We might walk in your door by chance once or twice, but after that, the ball’s in your court.
Make sure someone actually talks to visitors the first Sunday they show up. There is someone in your congregation that has the gift of hospitality. Let them shine in this position. This person can find out how a visitor came to walk through your doors. They can introduce the newcomers to the way your particular church worships, make sure they are personally invited to the very next service, and follow-up at lunch or later that week to see if they had any questions or just find out what they thought about your church service.
In all reality, what do you have to lose?
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