Tag: 1st time guests

3 Ways to Create an Outstanding Experience for First Time Guests

3 Ways to Create an Outstanding Experience for First Time Guests

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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.

1. Anticipate

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.

2. Prepare
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.

3. Welcome
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?

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4 Things to Communicate to First Time Guests This Sunday

4 Things to Communicate to First Time Guests This Sunday

Visiting a church for the first time can be a nerve-wracking experience. A few months ago, I put myself in the role of a first time guest. I was out-of-state and decided to check out a nearby church. What did I do first?  I looked up the church online. I found service times, checked out the pastor and got a general feel for the church.

Then I actually visited on Sunday. I walked in and immediately started looking for some place marked for first time guests…but I never found it. As I sat in the auditorium listening to announcements, I waited for a special welcome to guests and instructions for where to turn in my information card…but I never heard it.

Perhaps I totally missed these parts of the service or maybe it was an off day. Who knows. But as church communicators, we can’t afford to miss the chance to communicate with 1st time guests.

First time guests are one of the most important audiences we communicate with and we need to get it right every single Sunday.

Here are four things you should communicate to first time guests this Sunday.

1. We’re glad you’re here.

This probably seems like common sense, right? But sometimes the most basic principles are the most easily forgotten.

A welcome to your guests could be in the form of your Lead Pastor giving a special welcome, in video announcements, a note in the bulletin and, of course, on your website.

There should be a special place reserved just for new guests and custom print materials catered to first time guests.

First Time Guest KioskAt my church, we have a First Time Guest Kiosk. This is where we receive guests and give them information and a gift. We also use this as a starting point where we can lead them into our facility and show them around.

We currently meet at a movie theater so our first time guest materials are packaged in a popcorn box. Inside includes: welcome booklet, CD from our Lead Pastor, candy, and microwave popcorn. We instruct our guests to fill out the Connection Card inside the bulletin and bring it back after the service. When they do this, we make a donation to one of our Strategic Partners and we also give them a $5 Starbucks gift card.

2. Next Steps

Your guests can’t take the next step if they don’t know about it. Turn in a Connection Card. Go the new attendee class. Check out a small group. Whatever your next step is for your guests, make sure they know. You can let your guests know when you welcome them, put it in your bulletin, and make it a part of your follow-up process.

One part of our follow-up process is to send a letter to anyone who turned in a Connection Card and invite them to Discovering Southbridge. This is a place where they can meet our Lead Pastor, ask questions and begin their journey with our church.

3. Where to get more information.

Where should guests go to have their questions answered? Visit our website. Stop by Guest Services (or whatever your church calls it). Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Tell them where to go to get the information they are looking for.

4. We hope to see you next week.

Surprisingly, this is the one that seems to be most overlooked. Show them why they should return the next week. Let them know about an upcoming sermon series or event. But it can be even simpler than that. Have your hospitality team make a point of inviting people back next week as they leave.

What do you think? What should you communicate to guests this Sunday?