Recently, we talked about the need for a “guest strategy” for your church. But how do you even know if they are guests? Of course, the best way is to ask. I’m not talking, “Hey, if you’re new to ABC Church, please stand up. Let’s give them a round of applause!” That’ll cause any introverts to go into immediate (and likely permanent) shock…

A better strategy? Have a table – or better yet a tent – for people to be able to pop in before they even go into the service. This isn’t an “info booth,” it’s a place specifically designed for first-timers, with people trained to answer the questions they would have – and even give brief tours. Many churches have these tents set up outside, and the best ones have some sort of gift or memento to take away (something worth having). Will some people take the gift and never come back? Yep, and that’s OK. The goal is to be welcoming, not transactional.

Of course, in the sanctuary/auditorium itself, you’ll want a communication card – or even better a “short code” (ex. text NEW to “12345”) shown on the screens which leads to an easy-to-fill-out digital version of the communication card. Just get the basics – the more that you ask people for their life story, the less likely they are to engage.

One strange-but-true tip? Keep an eye out for people that look up when they walk in the front door. It’s a normal human reaction to “size up” our environment when going somewhere for the first time. Your regular folks won’t do that often – they’re used to the space (do you ever look up when you go into your regular grocery store?), but first-timers virtually always will.

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