15 Ways to Attract, Retain, and Integrate New People Into Your Church

An friend recently asked me how we do ‘hospitality’ stuff at Grace. The following is what I sent him, and I thought it might be useful for others too – so take a look, and let me know what you think. What’s missing? What could be done better? Any help greatly appreciated.

1. First, think about your virtual front door – how’s the website – is it welcoming, inviting, clear etc. You might want to think social media under this too
2. Have someone from the front on the door – makes a connection straight away for newbies
3. Make sure all your language from the front is inclusive and accessible. This is Keller’s ‘as if’ principle – you do everything ‘as if’ your friend, neighbour, local counsellor etc was present – because hopefully one day they will be
4. Use a simple connect card so that visitors can fill something in if they want to – you may want to vary whether you announce it from the front as part of the service or have it lying round a welcome table at the back for your welcome team to use
5. Encourage the congregation to keep being welcoming and friendly – we encouraged our folk to use the first five minutes after the service to say hello to someone they didn’t know
6. Serve decent coffee and doughnuts after the service – its just loving your neighbour!
7. Have people on the exit door to initiate a little conversation with visitors – friendly, not heavy!
8. We then circulate info (from the conversations with new people) to the connect team and leaders via email so that we’re keeping a rough track of newcomers – tends to just be a name, a little background, and how many times they’ve visited. We don’t put their whole life-story out on email for obvious reasons!
9. If you can get a contact in a natural way make sure someone on the team follows that up – ideally within 24-48 hours. That contact might be more info, a simple word of welcome, or an invite to lunch or a small group (if appropriate)
10. Develop a culture of hospitality within the church – i.e. having people back (especially newbies) for Sunday lunch – great way to really connect to people
11. Try and encourage people to join a small group after they’ve been coming for 3-4 visits – again, best way to connect people into the life of the church
12. Have a termly ‘new folks’ lunch at which leaders and staff are present – could include a short 15 mins on history and vision of the church
13. have a range of ‘new folks’ courses’ – might be explore, might be more like a new members day – depends where they’re at – you want a number of things that you can plug folk into
14. Run (as regularly as necesssary – twice a year for us) a new persons day – at which you can talk about church vision, values, membership etc.
15. Follow up courses/days with a visit to see where people are at and how to help them in their next step
If all this is happening its likely that you’ll be seeing a steady stream of visitors attracted, retained, and integrated into the life of the church
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