New visitors always accompany the Easter season and knowing how to meet their needs while ushering in the sacred holiday can be tricky. As Easter draws to a close, what are you doing to retain the interest of your visitors?
Hopefully, you were prepared to welcome those folks properly and you captured their information. But now the real work begins if you want them to come back to church; you have to help them along in this phase of their spiritual journey.
We offer a few ideas for reaching out to new visitors, helping to ensure you’ll see them again:
1. Follow up with a compelling sermon series.
If someone joins you for a holiday or special event, they might enjoy their experience, but they still need a compelling reason to return the following week. Launch a new sermon series the week after Easter that speaks to a felt need, such as family or relationships. By creating a series that is not intimidating to people new to faith and speaking to a pain point many people have, you can create a safe and interesting “next steps” for visitors who still might be exploring the church’s role in their lives. Announce this series during the Easter service. Follow up by mailing a postcard to visitors inviting them to return during the week after Easter.
2. Contact the new visitors by mail, phone and email.
Most people these days find junk in their mailboxes, so a hand-written card or note from the church is a welcome surprise. Make it casual in tone with an invitation to return and a key person with whom to connect if they have questions. Follow the note in a day or two with an email and/or phone call. The personal follow-up cannot be underestimated especially if your church is large.
3. Send visitors a small gift with an invitation to learn more.
You may wish to include a pamphlet with the hand-written note. Booklets that are easily consumed and focused specifically on a “questions you may have” topic are ideal for new visitors. Invite the visitors to learn more or find answers at an upcoming Sunday school class, Bible study, or sermon series.
4. Help visitors find a way to belong.
Nothing’s more off-putting to newcomers than feeling lost and left out at church. Make a concerted effort to match people’s skills, gifts, and interests to ministries within the church. Many churches have specific staff positions dedicated to this task. If your church doesn’t, find volunteers to work in this area. Newcomers should be encouraged to discover their spiritual gifts (this can be easily done by taking a spiritual gifts quiz online) and then plugged into the life of the church.
Don’t allow the momentum of the Easter season to fizzle once the baskets are emptied and the chocolate has been eaten. Even a small effort at connecting with newcomers will go a long way in establishing lasting relationships and helping others grow spiritually, which will result in a thriving church community.