6 Tips to Get Visitors to Return

If you want your church to grow, you must be intentional and systematic about visitor assimilation.

Visitors to Return

Visitor assimilation is one of those things that if you’re not intentional and don’t have a system, it won’t happen. But if you want to see your church grow, then getting visitors to return is vital. Imagine if just half the visitors who attended a church service ended up coming back again and again, eventually becoming members. Your church would grow!

The great thing about being intentional about visitor assimilation is that they are already there. They have already encountered the culture of your church and have a taste of what it’s like to hear you preach a sermon. Their encounter could be good, bad or OK, but if you get this piece right, it could make all the difference.

6 Parts to Successful Visitor Assimilation

1. Information Card

In order to do successful visitor assimilation, you’ll need to get their contact information. You need an information card or connection card or whatever you want to call it. For us, our connection card is on every chair and is encouraged to be filled out by everyone as it’s our way for people to get signed up for events, submit prayer requests and more.

If you want to follow up with visitors, you need to get their contact information.

2. Gift and Info Bag

Go all out with this! It will be the incentive for them to fill out their information card and turn it in. Blow them away with the value they receive from this bag.

We decided to include a $5 Panera Gift Card, a customized coffee mug with our colors and logo, an information folder explaining who we are and a business card.

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Below is what the inside of our information folder looks like (just to give you some ideas):

visitor assimilation

3. Dedicated Visitor Table

When you do the next step (#4) you’ll need a place to tell them to go after service. This is that place. You’ll want to recruit a team of people to be at this table on a rotation so that you have coverage every week. Their job is to make sure that visitors fill out at least their name and email, engage with them as much as they are open to, and answer any questions they may have.

We call this our “Get Connected Table.” Whatever you decide to call it, be sure to get appropriate signage so that visitors know where to go without question.

4. Start With Them in Mind

From signage to cleanliness, keep the visitor in mind. Then, once your service starts, start with them in mind. Take some time at the beginning of the service to acknowledge their presence. Welcome them, invite them to fill out the information card and encourage them to take it to the table (#3) where they’ll receive a free gift bag.

5. Email Follow Up

Email may be a somewhat old technology, but it’s still extremely effective. We use MailChimp for this part. To do this, you’ll need to pay, at a minimum, $10 a month, but it’s completely worth it.

Every Monday, you’ll want to take the new information cards and plug in the information to your email list that is set up for email automation.

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I’ll create a tutorial on how to set up email automation for visitor assimilation on Monday. Be sure to subscribe so you won’t miss it!

Over the course of a month we send out five different emails to visitors. I took the emails that Bobby Williams shared with the UnSeminary audience when he was featured on the UnSeminary Podcast and then modified them to meet our needs.

Check out the podcast episode here and get the emails here.

Be sure to check back on Monday for the email automation tutorial video.

6. Visitor Video

In the first email that is sent to visitors they are invited to watch a short welcome video from our lead pastor, Kenny White (have you read his post on finding your preaching voice?).

Watch the visitor video.

Don’t overthink this video. Simply talk with the viewer (a visitor) as if they were right in front of you. Tell them you were glad they were there and invite them to come back.

What About You?

Would you add anything to this list? If so, what would it be? I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or on social media (Facebook Group | Facebook Page | Twitter)!

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Brandon Kelley
Brandon Kelley is the co-founder of Rookie Preacher. He serves as the Outreach & Communications Pastor at a fast growing church plant in Williamsburg, Ohio, called The Crossing. Among the many things he does at The Crossing, serving on the teaching team is one of them. He also writes at BrandonKelley.org. You can follow him @BrandonKelley_. Watch his sermons here.
  • James

    Perhaps on the email also have them fill out a survey that way you could get some feedback and maybe improve some things you didn’t think about previously. It gives the visitor the feeling that they have a voice.

  • Ellen Palser

    This was a very useful article and I will be keeping a copy in my files. The one thing that I think is very important is the front line workers – that is the greeters. They need to be genuinely friendly and have a good working knowledge of the church and its resources. In business there is a well known axiom that states, “You’ll never get a second chance to make a first impression”. Before a visitor gets to hear the message or participate in worship they will quite possibly base their assessment of our church on how they were welcomed right at the door. Thank you for your article Brandon – this is such an important topic.