24-10 – Guest Reception: Welcome, Wanted, and (hopefully) Coming Back
Michael Hanks, Ceres, California – We are starting a Pastors VIP Breakfast in which each first-time visitor from the previous week enjoys a Sunday morning breakfast with my wife and me. With that, I’ll be sending out a personal video invitation on Monday, a follow-up letter will be mailed Tuesday, a phone call will be placed Thursday to make sure they can make it to the breakfast, and then a final call Saturday to get a head count and name of each guest that will be attending.
We use doorkeepers to open doors for guests and members because I want each guest and member to be greeted with a warm handshake and a smile. Additionally, they are there to make sure guests receive a Welcome Packet, which includes a small gift and a letter from me. We have a special room called the VIP Room, and between our morning services, we serve snacks so that we can focus on making our guests feel welcome.
Most importantly, we have created a culture within our church that each and every saint understands; it’s his or her responsibility to make each guest feel loved and appreciated. Our church motto is Belong, Believe, Become. Before anything else, we want them to feel like they belong here.
John Burnett, Houston, TX – We have two hosts in the foyer to welcome all of our guests and to have them fill out an information card with their address and phone number. Our guest packet includes a welcome letter, the Acts 2:38-salvation tract, our church schedule and my business card.
Our ushers try to seat all visitors in a location where they feel comfortable. We recognize all visitors during service. We will call each visitor’s name to recognize them and greet them, and church members will welcome them as we allow five minutes for all members to greet visitors and to greet one another.
When possible, I will stand at the exit door at the end of service and will ask them to please continue visiting us.
Our plan is to give a follow-up call and visit to all first-time visitors at their homes.
Thomas Crutchfield, Hinesville, GA – Personally, as the pastor, I take a few minutes to greet everyone I can. As a team, our church is very welcoming. We have an usher at the front doors welcoming everyone. We feel our hostesses and ushers are the face of Life UPC. We want to make our best impression to our guests by having a trained team member greet them and open the door for them. It shows that we respect and honor our guests.
The hostesses are responsible for getting a guest card filled out. They also give out a tri-fld guest pack. Inside we have pictures of our leaders and a small introduction to some of the ministries that we offer. We also invite guests to “Meet the Team” directly after service. This is held in my office. Guests come in and are given coffee, water and baked goods. The leaders welcome them and answer any questions that they may have.
We started a ministry entitled C.I.A. [Caring In Action]. Our CIA ministry team contacts via phone all first-time guests and lets them know that they have a gift basket awaiting them when they return for their second visit. We also send out a welcome e-mail and a welcome letter.
We also have a quarterly luncheon for all of the guests who seem to, or have made Life UPC their church. During the luncheon, some of our key leaders, the guests that have been coming regularly, Pastor, and First Lady are there. We do a short power point introduction and welcome them to Life UPC. This has shown great retention. If we get them to the luncheon, they stay!
Myron Wideman Jr., Stone Mountain, GA – We make sure our guests feel welcome, wanted and eager to return by simply putting them first. We do use hostesses to greet guests as they enter the foyer. Guests walk into our building not knowing where the sanctuary entrance is, where the bathrooms are, etc. Our hostesses are there as friendly guides to help them feel welcome and secure in the decision they made to visit our church.
We give a red gift bag to every first-time visitor. We chose the color red so that it would stick out to our members that this individual is a first-time visitor and needs diligent attention. The red gift bag is stuffed with tissue paper, a $5 gift card, a letter signed by the Senior Pastor and Associate Pastor, and literature about our church.
Our guest follow-up ministry entails a second letter and a phone call going out that very next day to every visitor that came to our church. We also take that time to ask them if they enjoyed the service and if they had any questions regarding the service or the church. Finally, we connect them with a seasoned member or family that is compatible with them. Through that connection, relationships are built, Bible studies are taught, and new members are added to the church daily as such should be saved.
Chad Farris, Advance, MO – My advice is, do not start big, start small and then add things as you grow. Remember that a genuine smile, warm handshake and kind words cost nothing, but are more beneficial than any amount of money spent on reaching people!
To make sure our guests feel welcome when they visit, we greet them as they come in, introduce ourselves, help them fill out a visitor’s welcome card, and give them a nice tri-fold brochure explaining about our church, offering free home Bible studies, etc. We use the information in our card to mail out a “thank you for visiting” card, and we send out “praying for you” cards once a month. We also utilize their birthday/anniversary information to send out cards.
Our follow-up is as follows: (1st week) Send a letter or card thanking them for visiting, (2nd week) A personal visit to their home for prayer and to ask them if they are interested in a free home Bible study, (3rd week) Banana bread is delivered to their home, (For a full year) We send out birthday cards, anniversary cards, along with revival or special service invites.
Terry Long, Indianapolis, IN – We do our best to have friendly greeters and ushers at the door early. Nothing is less inviting than an empty hall and no one to direct you to where you should go. We have small gifts that we give guests, send follow-ups, and guests are addressed from the pulpit by name. We encourage our saints to introduce themselves to guests, sit by them and be friendly.
We have guest packets; every guest obviously gets a church bulletin. We ask them to take a moment and fill out our survey. We give our guests a small honey pot and a key chain. The honey pot is a cute little gift that easily would be used in their kitchen, hopefully on the kitchen table. It has a catchy little slogan tied around the lid that says, “It was good for you to bee with us today.” Our hope is that when they use the honey, or see the pot, they remember us.
We use a software/iPad app called FaithMetrics for our visitor information, and visitor information retention. FaithMetrics immediately sends an e-mail that we developed. As soon as the information is filled out, the guest gets an email. I’ve had people say, “Wow, I got your e-mail even before service was over.”
We send out a letter from the pastor greeting them and thanking them for coming. That is mailed out Monday. Saturday, our outreach director also makes a personal phone call inviting them back the next day for service.
Transcribed by: Gregg Stone