New experiences can be scary. Experiencing a new church can be really scary. Guests arrive at your church with questions swirling in their mind: What will the pastor say? Will my kids have fun and be safe? Will they make me do something weird? What if I get lost?
With that in mind, here are three ways you can alleviate first-time guest fears and create an outstanding experience for your guests this Sunday.
This requires putting yourself in the position of a guest. Think about the questions that a first-time guest may have.
- What time does the service start?
- What should I wear?
- Where will my kids go? Will they have fun and be safe?
- Where are the restrooms?
- How early should I arrive?
- What does a typical service look like?
Reduce the anxiety by anticipating these questions, answering them and preparing to address these concerns ahead of time. Practical ways to do this would be adding an FAQ to your website or a welcome video that includes what guests can expect. Share posts on your social media channels geared toward newcomers along with photos of your services and ministries. Place service times and directions in a clear and easy to find spot on your website.
If you had a guest coming over to your house for the first time, what would you do? You would prepare! You’d probably make sure everything was clean, smelled good, and might even make a snack for them.
- Make sure your campus is clean and tidy
- Set up a First Time Guest Kiosk or Tent
- Form a First Impressions Team to welcome guests
- Create printed materials and have a gift ready
- Reserve parking spaces specifically for guests
- Review signage to ensure it’s clear from a guest perspective
It can be easy to overlook things that are familiar to us. Ask a neighbor or someone who doesn’t regularly attend your church to act as a “Secret Shopper” and fill out a survey about their experience. It can be scary to be vulnerable and ask for this kind of honest feedback but beneficial in the long run. Train your First Impressions team on the importance of cleanliness at your campus and to always be looking for ways to improve the environment. Empower your volunteers to take action whenever they see an issue and fight the “it’s not my place” mentality.
Acknowledge your guests. Make sure they know you are excited to meet them and they are welcome at your church.
- Have your Lead Pastor welcome guests
- Assemble trained volunteers who are ready to receive guests and show them around your campus
- Include a welcome to guests in your announcements
- Give guests clear next steps on how to get connected at your church
- Tell them where they can find more information about ministries
- Invite them to join you again next week
Share your church’s vision throughout the service and in your first-time guest materials so guests walk away with a clear idea of who your church is and how they and their families can partner with you.
What do you think? What are other ways to create an outstanding experience for your guests?