5 Next Steps to Create a Next Visit for Guests

We are living in a world of post cultural Christianity. Our churches can no longer expect guests to show up just because we have the doors open. We have to be prayerful. We have to be intentional.

This post is, by its nature, very practical. But it can be a positive step in Great Commission obedience as you seek to expose people to the gospel and create more gospel conversations.

These, then, are five key steps to reach and retain guests. Most of these can be implemented in your church right away.

  1. Create a culture of inviting. One of the primary reasons our churches do not have guests is straightforward: We are not inviting people to come. In my research for the book, The Unchurched Next Door, we found that nearly eight of ten unchurched persons would come to church if we invited them and accompanied them to the worship services. If we invite them, they will truly come. I will address this issue more fully next week.
  2. Make certain you have a positive “guest flow.” Nelson Searcy, in his book Fusion,created this guide for the number of first-time guests each week in our worship services. If the number of first-time guests in your church is fewer than 5, you need to find out where the challenges reside.
  • 3 first-time guests for every 100 in worship attendance: maintenance mode
  • 5 first-time guests for every 100 in worship attendance: growth mode
  • 7 first-time guests for every 100 in worship attendance: rapid growth mode
  1. Be prepared for the guests when they arrive. The studies we have seen indicate we have between five and seven minutes to make a good first impression when the guests do arrive. Again, I will elaborate on this issue more in future posts.
  2. Find a way to get contact information from guests. Ask guests to complete a guest card, but remember less is more. If we simply ask for an email and a name, we are likely to get higher responses. And if we say we will make a contribution to a local ministry (such as $5 for every card turned in), we will get even a higher response.
  3. Contact guests within 24 hours. If you have their email address, send them a quick but personal email. If you have their mobile number, send them a text. These contacts can be brief, but they almost always increase the likelihood of a return visit. Your goal is not only to reach guests, but to retain them as well.

As you have requested of me, I am being more intentional about suggesting practical resources to accompany these blog posts. A good resource is “How to Retain Guests More Effectively.”

Reach guests. Keep guests. Have gospel conversations.

See what God will do.

> Read more from Thom.


 

Want to know more about Guest Experiences at your church? Let’s talk! Connect with an Auxano Navigator here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer

Thom S. Rainer is the founder and CEO of Church Answers, an online community and resource for church leaders. Prior to founding Church Answers, Rainer served as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Before coming to LifeWay, he served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for twelve years where he was the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism. He is a 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama and earned his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Your Preaching Will Never Be Enough

In his highly popular book, The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell contrasted the ministry of George Whitefield and John Wesley. Gladwell articulated that Whitefield was the better communicator, a more powerful preacher than Wesley. Whitefield was also known as a more capable theologian than Wesley, more likely to be compared to Luther or Calvin than Wesley would have been. Yet Wesley’s impact was more far-reaching and it was because, according to Malcolm Gladwell, “John Wesley’s genius was organizational.”

Whitefield showed up and preached. He did so well and faithfully. Wesley, though, was committed to more than just the event where he would proclaim the message. He worked hard on developing a process that moved people to “societies” where they would be shepherded in smaller groups. Wesley thought strategically and built a process that became known as Methodism.

In an interview with The Atlantic, Gladwell commented:

One of the things that fascinates me about the rise of Methodism is the role played by John Wesley, the movement’s founder and the one responsible for its extraordinary spread. His travel schedule was phenomenal: he basically spent forty years on a horse, going around and infecting people with the idea of Methodism and then — importantly — creating small groups that kept the infection alive. Wesley’s ability to spend day after day on a horse is central to understanding the spread of Methodism in the nineteenth century. And that in turn is an example of the larger idea that you need to have someone who has some exceptional connecting ability at the center of any epidemic. 

If you preach like Whitefield, consider thinking like Wesley. The more you think like Wesley, the more likely the ministry can spread and endure. What does it mean to think like Wesley?

1. Always think “next step.”

Instead of only thinking about the gathering, John Wesley thought about what people in the gathering would do next, what they would be invited to, and how they would be mobilized to something outside of the gathering. Some questions to consider: When a bunch of people are in one of our gatherings, what do we hope and pray for them next? Are we making what is next clear for them?

2. Always think “smaller group.”

Long before people coined the phrase, “life change best happens in smaller groups,” John Wesley was building a network of them fueled by that very conviction. He knew that people are much more likely to be known when they are in smaller groups.

3. Always think “leader development.”

While getting on a horse and traveling to connect with leaders may have seemed like a waste of time to some, Wesley knew that movements don’t spread without leaders. And he was committed to developing leaders. When spiritual leaders are developed, discipleship is multiplied.

This type of thinking is so counter-intuitive. Most people think about the current moment, the larger environment, and the number of followers. Instead think about the next step, the smaller group, and the number of leaders.

> Read more from Eric.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger is the Senior Pastor of Mariners Church in Irvine, California. Before moving to Southern California, Eric served as senior vice-president for LifeWay Christian. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. Eric has authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, taking his daughters to the beach, and playing basketball.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Choices and Your Announcements

In an earlier post I referenced Barry Schwartz’s work The Paradox of Choice, which advocates that too many choices leads to regret because we are never confident we made the right choice. While I pointed out that this regret is really a result of our sinful hearts seeking satisfaction in things other than Christ, I do agree with Schwartz’s hypothesis that too many choices leads to “decision paralysis.”

In a talk at the well-known TED conference, Schwartz gave an illustration of Vanguard financial services, which conducts voluntary retirement programs at companies for more than 1 million employees. These voluntary retirement programs include matching funds from employers, meaning they are deeply beneficial and advantageous to the employee. According to Schwartz, participation in the retirement program drops 2 percent for every 10 options presented to employees. If 50 fund options are presented, participation drops 10 percent.

The employees are overwhelmed by the number of options, walk away from free matching money, and go home thinking they will sign up another day. The plethora of choices leads to “decision paralysis.”

After consulting with a lot of churches, I am convinced the same thing happens each week for them. The number of things that are presented as “next steps” or “opportunities for involvement” are too many and lead to paralysis. It is often hard to keep up with the barrage of announcements unloaded in a 3-4 minute time frame. Calling the person giving the monologue an MC or tour guide (yes, I have seen that happen) or putting together a great video will not solve the problem of too many announcements.

A better way is to say less. We really do say more by saying less.

What is the magic number of announcements? I am not sure. I have seen some churches effectively bundle three announcements to feel like one because everything was deeply woven together and connected to an overarching direction. At the same time, I have seen others make one announcement feel like ten because the details were so confusing.

The point is that too many choices results in paralysis. Consider helping your people benefit from the great ministry your church is offering by pushing less options.

Read more by Eric here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger is the Senior Pastor of Mariners Church in Irvine, California. Before moving to Southern California, Eric served as senior vice-president for LifeWay Christian. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. Eric has authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, taking his daughters to the beach, and playing basketball.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.