Our family experienced a temporary life transition that involved us moving to another state in the US for a period of four months.
We left our work, our church that we are planting, our friends and support networks.
During this temporary time, we chose a local church in our community without shopping for a church, since four months not enough time to visit many churches, nor build long lasting relationships.
This put us in a real life experience of being the first time visitor in a church and to experience the challenges of getting connected to a local church.
We chose a large denominational church well established in the community.
We are grateful for the community of friends we made during that time.
We strengthened a relationship with a family we knew already, and made some new friends.
We invested in their ministry, and they invested in us.
While we were not there long enough to “become family,” we do treasure our time there.
I’m interviewed by Bill and Kris of Church Talk after I published a recent article our experience in Net Results Magazine.
In this video, I talk about some of the surprising bumps in the road in getting into the social network of the church.
As a teacher on hospitality and welcome issues, I share a few lessons learned first hand that can help churches retain visitors who keep returning.
- Use the connection card to inform your visitor of next steps
- Don’t assume your visitor knows what the next step is.
- Visitors need to develop meaningful relationships within 6 months
- Church visitors that want to get involved need to hear the simple ways to do it.
On the assumption that you have a church visitor or new family making the effort to come back for a few weeks, my experience raises the question:
How can a church guide a visitor to an easy and low commitment next step?
This is the central question of any visitor connection process.
I’ve talked with pastors during the recent years looking for a foolproof system of assimilation, looking for the system to “set and forget” and watch the membership numbers climb.
We know it doesn’t work that way.
We must be intentional in helping new comers find their way into our church family and make easy pathways for that to occur.Â Programmatic expressions might differ, but the question remains the same:
What is a simple and low commitment next step that a repeat church visitor can take to build new relationships?
- What is the simple next step in your congregation?
- What happens to the data on the church connection card?
- How does your church visitor learn about that simple next step?