Is your church ready for guests who may visit your church after first watching online? Are you ready for members who may return after an extended COVID-19 break? What steps can you take to make a great first impression and reintegrate those who want to reengage with your ministries?
Your ‘front door’
It is widely recognized that a church’s online presence is the new front door of the church. Often a guest has already experienced your church through your website or online streaming of a weekly service before they arrive on campus for an in-person visit.
To make sure you are making a great first impression online, ask someone with “fresh eyes” to look at your website and find the service times, staff members and directions to your church. Were these easy to discover on your website with just a couple of clicks?
Ask them to evaluate your ministry page for children. Can they clearly share the ministry opportunities for children with you? Do they know what to do and where to go with their children when they arrive on campus? Is the children’s ministry page only focused on one ministry or is it vague and without specific details of what children will experience?
If members are returning after an extended absence, will they feel welcome? Will the welcome be warm and open and free of guilt or accusation? Is there still a place for them in ministry?
Find out more about how to develop a great first impression here.
Once guests arrive in your parking area, can they easily navigate the campus through signage and parking lot greeters? Are there greeters who have been trained to warmly welcome and assist with check-in and seating? Are members encouraged to reach out and welcome guests in the pew?
Are your children’s areas clean and adequately staffed? Are your preschool and children’s areas safe and secure? Is there a plan for two adults in each classroom and a check-in system for receiving and releasing children? Are rooms prepared for teaching before children arrive?
It is time to elevate the work of reaching our communities in intentional ways.
Will children experience high-quality teaching and warm relationships? Are teachers “on time,” which means arriving at least 15 minutes before the designated start time for the session? Have the teachers prepared materials before arrival so they are free to interact with parents and children?
Does the room say children are expected when parents and children arrive at the door of the classroom? Is there someone at or near the door to welcome children by name? Is there a vision and plan for disciple-making that is shared with teachers, leaders and parents?
Your next steps
It can be difficult at times to collect contact information from first time guests. Treats such as cookies or candy, information about the church, or a tangible gift, such as an insulated cup or gift card, might be offered as an incentive to share contact information. Having a check-in station for families with children is another way to gather contact information.
Whatever method you choose, plan for a personal contact through text, call or mail in the days following a visit. It is a bonus if a lay person follows up with an invitation to a small group or adult class.
Attendance at many churches has been greatly affected by COVID-19. It is time to elevate the work of reaching our communities in intentional ways.
We must ask ourselves the question, “What will guests and returnees find when they arrive at our door?”
Are you ready to answer that important question?
by Cheryl Markland / Children & Family Ministries Strategist / Baptist State Convention of North Carolina
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