The first time people visit your church it’s a blind date. But when they return they’re saying, “hey, we kinda like you.” And “we might want to get to know you better.”
The second-time visitor is a big deal.
These second-time visitors seem calm and pleasant on the outside, but inside they are a seething cauldron of questions and judgments.
- Is the church friendly?
- Do we fit here?
- Is it clean?
- Are my kids safe?
- Did they have fun?
- Did we enjoy the service?
- Did it help me?
They asked those questions the first time they visited, too, and you passed. But you have to step it up when they come back for a second time.
And you have less time to answer their questions than you think.
Andy Anderson seems to have said it first in his book called The Growth Spiral: The Proven Step-by-Step Method for Calculating and Predicting Growth Potential in your Church: one in ten first-time visitors will become members and one in four second-time attenders will stick.
A second visit doesn’t mean a third visit, so jump in and do all you can to attract them back.
Four Ways to Attract Second Time Visitors
1. Use their name.
Don’t allow your leaders or greeters (or you) to use the worn out “I’m not good at names” excuse. Face it: leaders try hard to be good at remembering names. And your visitors will notice if someone they met the first week calls them by name – especially if it’s you.
It’s better to ask their name again if you don’t remember it than to get by without saying it. Then use their name in your conversation; they’ll feel the love and it will help you remember it. If it’s awkward to ask their name again, then ask someone else to introduce themselves and tell you their name when they’re done talking. Write it down so you don’t forget it. It’s never cool to ask their name a third time.
2. Introduce them to someone like them.
As you’re chatting, sneak a glance around to see who you could introduce them to. Hand them off to a ministry leader or staff member, or one of your most winning couples. You’re answering their “would we belong here” question.
3. Help them see how the church can meet their needs.
Find out why they decided to come and connect your church’s ministries with their need. The most common felt needs are finances, marriage, parenting, and purpose/meaning. Does your sermon series speak to their need? Is there a small group they might enjoy or a special event coming up that touches on their interest? You’re not pushy – just affirming and informative.
4. Invite them to something more.
We have used the RU New Cafe for newcomers to meet the staff, each other, and hear more about the opportunities at the church. They might want to jump in and join a small group right away, or we’ve discovered lately that joining a ministry team is an easy first step. Invitations to the women’s event, the Wow speaker, or the activity for their kids show you are hoping they will hang around.
Try these ideas to reach out to your second-time visitors the following week.
Second-Time Visitor Follow Up
1. Send an email on Monday afternoon, but this time it’s from a volunteer – a real person – not someone who is paid to say good things about the church. A little touch of social proof.
2. Send a note to arrive by Thursday, also written by a volunteer, inviting them to come back next Sunday and to recommend joining a small group. And include a $5 gift card to a nearby sandwich, coffee, or frozen yogurt place. You just exceeded their expectations.
3. A quick call during the week from a relevant ministry, or just someone who is good at phone calls, to touch base and ask if they have any questions is attractive, too. The call should be less than ten minutes long.
Now, Pastor, what can you do to improve the experience for second-time visitors at your church? After you think about that for a minute, comment below to tell us what is already working for you.
To learn more, pick up my ebook Keeping your Guests Coming Back.
Hal Seed is the founding and Lead Pastor of New Song Community Church in Oceanside, CA. He mentors pastors who want to lead healthy, growing churches with resources at www.pastormentor.com.
Start Here to learn more about the resources available for you at PastorMentor.
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