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How to Get Guests to Return: Practical Ways to Welcome Visitors

how to get guests to return

How to get guests to return is a question every church asks. How can you close the back door and encourage visitors to join you again? The best way to get guests to come back is to give them a great first-time experience. The first impression really is a lasting impression. Church visitors decide in the first eight minutes if they will return or not.

How to Get Guests to Return

Review all these practical ways for how to get guests to return to your church and children’s ministry.

  • Give them the best parking (reserved parking).
  • Then make sure they know where to go (good signage).
  • Don’t make them wait in line. Have a separate check-in area for guests.
  • Use a “Make Their Day” strategy: Listen and find out what a new guest likes (favorite candy, toy, etc.) Then while they’re in class, run to the store and get their favorite thing. Present it to them when their parents come pick them.
  • Just because you greet people at the front door doesn’t mean you’re friendly. So be sure to talk with guests beyond the front door.
  • Don’t smother visitors. They’ll feel like you’re trying to sell them something.
  • “After Party Strategy”—Have a reception for guests after the service. Provide food, and make sure pastors and key volunteers are present to connect with guests.
  • “High-Five Strategy”—Create a kid greeter team that welcomes new kids and hangs with them for the entire service. Teach them how to talk with new kids by using the acronym F.I.S.H. (Family, Interests, School, Hobbies)
  • Follow proper room ratios. New parents want to make sure classrooms aren’t overcrowded. 85% = full
  • Explain safety and security to new families. Visiting parents want to know their kids will be safe.
  • Create a family atmosphere. These days, that’s vital for how to get guests to return to your church.
  • Greet people when they’re leaving as well.
  • Finally, send new families a handwritten postcard that thanks them for coming. Attach a coupon they can bring back for a free gift.

Tips for Greeting Visitors

Friendly, helpful greeters play a key role in how to get guests to return to your church. So provide these tips to your greeter team:

  • Make sure greeters are friendly and help people feel welcome, loved, and comfortable.
  • Put 100% of your focus on people when they’re in front of you. If you can’t help them because you’re with someone else, at least acknowledge them. Say, “Hi! How are you today? So glad you’re here. I’ll be right with you.”
  • Teach your team that voice inflection communicates value. How you say something matters. It translates into either “You’re bothering me” or “I care about you.”
  • Always walk, never point. Don’t tell guests where to go; take them there instead. And engage them in meaningful conversation on the way.
  • Answer questions. There are no dumb questions. Never say “I don’t know,” which leaves a family hanging. Instead, say, “I’m not sure, but let me find out for you.”
  • Put yourself in their shoes. Remember what it’s like to be new.
  • Don’t stand around talking to each other and ignoring the families who are checking in to your children’s ministry.
  • Words matter, especially to guests who walk in your church doors. Your words will make them feel a certain way. And they’ll remember how you made them feel. And that will determine if they return or not.