unchurched guests in your church

What Unchurched Guests Want When They Visit Your Church

Thomas CostelloChurch Leadership 2 Comments

You’re seeing unchurched guests in your church, but they don’t come back after their first visit. What went wrong?

Even if the unchurched have never attended church, they still have some expectations. If your church doesn’t meet those minimum expectations, they’re probably not coming back.

The great news is it’s actually not hard to give unchurched guests what they’re looking for. In fact, what they want is what many new visitors want – to feel welcome and engaged.

Easy Ways To Interact

The first step is to give unchurched guests easy ways to interact. Start with detailed signage that shows them where to go. A digital board works well to easily update times, dates and personnel names. Having ushers around to guide them is also important and ensures someone is there to welcome them.

You shouldn’t expect that new visitors have a Bible, but they likely have a smartphone. Make an announcement before services start or have ushers recommend a specific app to follow along. This is an easy way to ensure they have some way to quickly find scripture without fumbling through pages that they’re unfamiliar with. The easier it is for them to interact, the less awkward they feel.

Welcome Details For New Visitors

Most unchurched guests don’t want to stand up and ask “what now.” They expect to find something specifically for new visitors. Perhaps a pamphlet or business card on a desk that specifically says “New Visitors Start Here” or something similar. The idea is to provide at least some basic details about your church, such as your website, social media profiles, worship hours, volunteer opportunities, ministry groups and more.

If you have a church website, a business card works well. Create a section of your site dedicated to new visitors or even a second site entirely and direct them to it. Taking this extra time shows your church cares about helping the unchurched explore their faith.

A Friendly Follow-Up

Everyone wants to feel like their time is valued. Show your unchurched guests how much you appreciated their visit. Ask for feedback (this helps immensely in improving your church to better lead the unchurched). The best way to provide a follow-up is to have a sign-up sheet for new visitors to provide a contact method (text, email, phone).

Remember, be friendly and not pushy. Simply thank them for coming out, ask how their visit was and if there is anything they didn’t like, provide some welcome details and then provide worship times for the following week.

Someone To Greet Them

Two areas where many churches fail with their unchurched guests are not having a greeter or making a spectacle out of greeting. Every church should have greeters to welcome members and new visitors. These can be ushers or volunteers who specifically look for new faces and welcome them/guide them.

The second problem is a bit more complicated. While your church might think a meet and greet in the middle of services is a good idea since it seems friendly, many people find it embarrassing and awkward. Make sure new visitors are greeted and encourage your members to say “hello” to someone new they see, but simple is always better.

An Option For Beginners

It’s easy to assume everyone in your church knows the lingo and knows basic scripture and Bible stories, but your unchurched guests might not have a clue what you’re talking about. It’s a good idea to have a beginner’s option available to make the unchurched feel more comfortable.

For instance, as new guests are welcomed, suggest a study guide on your website that explains references you plan to make in your sermon or even hand them out. Of course, avoid insider lingo whenever possible.

Another option is to create a church app to help beginners follow along easily. Think of it as a complete beginner’s study Bible except in app form.

An Experience That Matches Your Site

Finally, unchurched guests may have found your church via your website or social media presence. They expect your church to have the same tone and personality as your online counterpart. If your church seems laid back and welcoming, but it’s rigid and strict when they walk in, they may not come back.

Give them the same experience you share online and vice versa. What you put online should be an accurate representation of your church’s brand, which helps draw in the members who fit best in your church.

Want to reach more of the unchurched? Help them find you with a church website that starts guiding them on their journey to further explore their faith.


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