Closing the back door of your church is an age-old challenge of the American church at large. Books upon books and blogs upon blogs have been dedicated to retaining a guest after they have visited your church.
You've probably seen a number of statistics on church visitors but here is one I found recently in Jonathan Malm's 50 Ways Churches Drive Away Church Visitors:
It takes 46% of people 4 visits to make a decision about a church. And when the average person attends roughly 50% of the time, the decision to make your church their church is a 2 month decision. And as pastors we may not like these numbers but facts are our friends. Are you befriending the facts?
To befriend the facts, here is our first hope for a guest at our church...
1. We Hope You, Simply, Come Back Next Week
Seems obvious, right? But too often we aim to sell people on their first visit as if they are prepared to make that decision during that visit. It's like shopping for a car. First, you check it out online. Second, you go take it for a test drive, right? And what do you always say before that test drive to the salesman... "I'm not ready to buy today...I'm just checking it out." Well, guests rarely verbalize that to us, as in, admit they are church shopping...although some do. But we all know it takes everyone time to make this kind of decision.
Therefore, verbalize this from the stage and in your lobby - "If you're a guest today, our hope for your is simple - just come on back next week." It will give them a chance to exhale and move at their own pace. We say this from the stage every single week.
Well that's great, you might be asking, but don't you need to hook them somehow on the first visit and the following six days?? Have you heard the saying You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink. Same is true in church. As churches, we are in the business of guiding and the Holy Spirit is in the business of closing.
@@As churches, we are in the business of guiding and the Holy Spirit is in the business of closing.@@
Here's is the second hope for a guest during their first visit:
2. We Hope You Make One Meaningful Connection Today
People choose to visit for a number of reasons: the pastor, the location, the kids programming or they were invited. However, the number one reason people stay is relationship.
Therefore, our second hope that we voice every week from stage is that guests make at least one meaningful connection before they leave. We then point them to where this can happen; at Guest Central. Now, this is on them and not every guest takes us up on this offer. But remember how it takes a guest 4 weeks to make a decision? Well, on a person's second or third time hearing we hope they make a meaningful connection - they do just that with our Connections Team.
The other thing I love about this statement coming from the stage every week is that it puts the ownership on every person in your service that calls your church their home to be the extension of the Connections Team and to create this one meaningful connection.
These two hopes, stated weekly, are culture creators. But these two hopes aren't enough. In next week's post I'll drill down on how to close the back door of your church in even greater detail.