Getting people to come to your church is the easy part. Convincing them to come back is an entirely different story. Today, churches try nearly everything imaginable to keep first time guests. Gift bags, doughnuts, t-shirts and coffee mugs are handed out in hopes of making guests feel appreciated and valued. Gifts are nice but people are really looking for an experience.
Unfortunately, in smaller churches the experiences can end up being a little scary. I have been to churches where guests were publicly recognized, asked to stand and be greeted by total strangers, with extended, sometimes sweaty hands. Other times, new guests are completely ignored.
The secret to getting guests to come back is love. People can easily sense love–or the lack therof. Whether they realize it or not, love is what they are looking for…we all are. Love moves people.
If love is the trump card that can cause new guests to become returning guests, what does love look like? Love is intentionally engaging people with God and His grace. This helps their heart to become more open to community, truth and God’s spirit. Love can make a difference in how someone responds to the worship service, sermon and ultimately, the Gospel.
Here are 5 practical ways to ensure that genuine love is shown at your church:
- Start by helping your hospitality team (ushers, greeters, etc.) understand the mission behind what they are doing. Teach them to be authentic, not robotic. As much as possible, hand-pick volunteers who have a knack for connecting with people and set them up as leaders to build a genuine culture.
- Emphasize the importance of showing genuine love during messages, videos and in team meetings.
- Be intentional about creating connection and conversation opportunities and areas before and after the service.
- Offer great experiences for kids that are designed to capture their hearts with the love of Jesus. Show genuine concern for families by partnering with parents to provide tools to help kids take their next steps toward Christ.
- Develop a follow-up strategy that exceeds expectations. Go above and beyond in letting guests know that they were appreciated and valued. “Surprise and delight” is buzz phrase in marketing; study the creative ways brands are doing this. Shouldn’t the church be able to come up with the most touching, heartfelt ways to show love?
Genuinely loving others is powerful. I have seen first-hand how the love of Jesus can literally change the way a person feels about God, church and even their own life. Experiencing love is the main reason the unchurched will come back to your church.