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How to Reach 100 New Guests This Year

Grow Church Attendance #3 – Plan your follow up in advance.

What happens when a guest visits?

Is it intentional or accidental?

And is it effective?

Head to a whiteboard or open up some flowchart process and design an experience. Your process might include some of the following steps.

  • An immediate text message. A service like Text in Church would help.
  • A phone call or voicemail. A church in Charlotte, N.C., uses SlyDial to leave a voicemail for a guest. The person’s phone never rings but a voicemail is waiting for them when they get to the parking lot.
  • An automated email sequence. You could use your database program or a tool like MailChimp to send three to five emails spread over a month to new guests. The content of these emails can be tailored to new people and answer the most common questions.
  • A hand-written thank you note. In the digital age, this might feel antiquated, but it’s one of the most personal and often the most effective follow-up strategies.

Here is an example of a documented follow-up process (the original, editable file along with step-by-step coaching and sample email content is available instantly to Church Fuel One members).

Even if you don’t have many guests, I recommend working hard on your follow-up process. The act of intentionally planning will help solidify your priorities and create a healthy expectation.

Grow Church Attendance #4 – Design your service with guests in mind.

Gavin Adams, the Lead Pastor at Woodstock City Church, says we should not worry about being seeker-sensitive, but we should strive to be seeker-comprehensible.

One specific place this principle matters is the church service itself.

The fact of the matter is that many church services are designed for people who understand how church services work. They assume people know what’s going on and have context for everything happening.

Now most people probably know the drill.

But new people will not.

That’s why it is important to design everything in your church service with guests in mind.

Pretend someone is at your church for the very first time. Pretend a 5th grader is attending “big church” for the very first time.

Explain every single thing every single time.

And when regulars say, “We get it…you don’t have to explain it any more”…remind them the explanation is not for them, but for new people.

You probably don’t need to change anything you do and you may not need to adjust anything you are planning to preach. You just need to explain it.

Here are some examples.

  • If you’re asking people to turn to a book of the Bible, give specific directions and context. Don’t assume people know where Philippians is.
  • If you’re observing the sacraments of Baptism or Communion, explain the meaning every single time. Don’t assume people know what it means or why it’s important.
  • If you receive an offering, explain how to participate. It might sound silly, but this is one of the most important moments in your church service.
  • If you’re making announcements, don’t toss around ministry names that won’t mean anything to a guest.

Carey Nieuwhof says one of the marks of a church service designed to reach the unchurched is the service already engages teenagers. He writes, “If teens find your main services (yes, the ones you run on Sunday mornings) boring, irrelevant and disengaging, so will unchurched people.”

For more on this, read Nine Signs Your Church Is Ready to Reached Unchurched People.

Grow Church Attendance #5 – Equip your people to invite.

In a national survey conducted by author Thom Rainer and his staff, eight out of 10 unchurched men and women said they would come to church—if only someone would invite them. He shares these findings in the book titled The Unchurched Next Door.

You probably know that personal invitations are the most effective way to reach new people. But how do you get your church to actually follow through with this?

Churches often do a great job encouraging their people to invite their friends, neighbors and co-workers. But encouragement and equipping are two different things.

People don’t just need encouragement to invite, they need the tools. You need to do more than ask them to bring people to church, you need to give them resources that make it easy to follow through.

Some ways you can do this are:

  • Print invite cards and place them at the doors.
  • Write a Facebook post and send it to people with specific directions on when to post.
  • Create sharable graphics for people to use on social media.
  • Preach regularly on evangelism, inviting and outreach, highlighting these specific tools in your messages.

Want to read more on this? Here are 19 ways to equip your church to invite.

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This article originally appeared here.