My husband and I are looking for a new home church. It has been awkward, to say the least. We have been married for seven years, and at least one of us has been working at a church for the entirety of our marriage. The church we were at had to close, but I never imagined that the hardest part would be after we closed the doors, that the most difficult part would be finding a new home church. Based on my church shopping experience, I have decided to make a list of ways to encourage new families to make a return visit:
9 Ways You Can Encourage Families to Make a Return Visit
1. Make it easy to find the kids area.
No matter what door they walk in there should be signs and greeters who know where to take the kids. Bonus points if you have signs outside of the building stating where the kids entrance is.
2. Keep the check-in form short.
Have them fill out their name, their phone and any allergies, and then have them fill out the rest later. Trust me, nothing makes me forget my address faster than both my kids screaming and running around my feet.
3. Make a warm transfer from check-in to the classroom.
Once people get their kids checked in, have a volunteer or host walk them to each child’s classroom. This is a MUST if you are in large church and a plus if you are in smaller church.
4. Look for new families.
They usually have a confused look on their face, and might be looking around frantically.
5. Tell parents what happened in class.
I want to know what my child is learning about. Most older kids can tell their parents what they learned, but I would love a handout at least. This is why all of our curriculum Super Church 2.0 and Kinder Church 2.0 (Pst. Kinder Church 2.0 is HALF OFF right now until October 4, 2017) has a Parent Handout for every single lesson!
6. Meet the family’s needs.
Don’t be so rigid in your rules that you put off meeting their needs. A good example of this is when classes are separated by ages. I heard about a family of four kids, and three of the kids went in one class and one was left to go by herself to the older class. The teachers made her go by herself and she started crying. I see no problem in letting the older child go to the younger class. Granted, at some point, she will need to go to her own class, but work with the family and it will be a better experience for all.
7. Don’t forget what it was like to be the new family.
Find a ‘secret shopper’ to visit your church and time how long it takes to get the children checked in. At one church it took 13 minutes from the minute we walked in the door until we sat down in the sanctuary, and at another one, it took almost 25! Let’s start making it easier for new families to get checked in!
8. Offer incentives to come back.
Give the children a card/coupon that when they bring it back they can get something cool.
9. Make it fun!
If church is fun, the kids will want to come back, and they will ask their parents to come back.
Granted there are a lot of different reasons why some people make a return visit and some don’t come back to church. But, I believe that a great KidMin is one of the main reasons why people come back, and this list a great starting point.