4 Ways to Turn Visitors into Members

How to Turn Church Guests into Attendees

Every time I read the book of Acts, I am completely blown away by the early church’s growth. By the end of the second chapter, thousands of people gather to hear the gospel and three thousand people are saved (Acts 2:41). That means a church of 120 believers (Acts 1:15) grew to a church of more than three thousand!

As I marvel over the work that the Spirit is doing through the church, it also becomes clear WHY the church is growing. 

The church described in the book of Acts is a body of believers that I would want to worship with too. In fact, after one visit, I would never want to leave.

So what was it about the early church that drew people in and made them want to be a part of this body of believers? How can churches today not just draw a crowd, but be a church that keeps visitors and turns first time guests into attendees?

Acknowledge Visitors

Before Peter preaches at Pentecost, a huge crowd of Jews are drawn to the church. They are captivated because the believers are filled with the Spirit and speaking in tongues that the Jews from every nation can understand (Acts 2:5-11). The crowd of Jews join the believers’ gathering because they are amazed and astonished how they could communicate and relate to one another.

In the same way, churches today can draw first time guests in by opening the lines of communication. This begins by simply acknowledging first time guests.

First time guests need to feel welcomed and included throughout their visiting experience.

  • At the door:

Welcome first time guests.Greeters give visitors their first impression of the church. Greeters should joyfully acknowledge first time guests as they arrive and offer to answer any questions they may have.

  • During the service:

As the pastor welcomes everyone to church, a special welcome should be extended to first time guests. Let them know you’re glad they’re visiting and invite them back again next week.

  • After the service:

Visitors should be acknowledged after the service so they leave feeling recognized, accepted, and loved.

Connect with Visitors

After Peter delivers his sermon at Pentecost, the new believers connect and share incredible fellowship as the church (Acts 2: 42-47).

Peter doesn’t dismiss the new believers from the gathering with the hope they will show up again next week. Rather, “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts” (Acts 2:46). The believers share in fellowship that unites them together and grows the church.

Our churches can retain visitors too if we make connecting and fellowshipping with first time guests a top priority.

  • Connection cards:

Use connection cards to gather visitor information. Learn their names and contact information so you can follow up with them when you have time for genuine conversation and fellowship.

  • Follow-up:

Within 48 hours of a visitors first service at your church, follow-up with an email and/or phone call. Open up the lines of communication, ask for feedback, and establish a relational connection.

  • Fellowship:

Invite guests into fellowship with the church. Invite them to spend time with the pastoral staff. Invite them to an event where they can meet other church attendees. Encourage them to fellowship with other believers in a small group.

Churches will keep visitors when they show them God’s great love and draw them into fruitful fellowship.

Take Feedback from Visitors

Your church’s welcoming process will best improve when you gather and implement feedback from first time guests.

  • Ask guests what they liked about their experience

Learn what is working and making visitors come back. Relay this information to greeters and volunteers and thank them for serving first time guests in this way. When your volunteers are passionate about making first time guests feel welcome, your visitors will notice.

  • Ask guests how their experience could have been improved

Asking for constructive criticism may be daunting, but it is important to know how you can improve your current process.

  • Implement feedback

Collecting feedback is the first step, but to truly improve your church’s welcoming process you must implement it. Be willing to try new things, use new resources, and be open-minded to new ideas.

Show Visitors your Values

The early church follows Jesus’s teachings to set an example for the new believers. They devote themselves to the apostles’ teachings, fellowship, pray, and join together in complete unity (Acts 2: 42-44). They also begin to sell all of their possessions so they can give to anyone in need (Acts 2:45). Now that is a body of believers who practice Christ-like love and generosity!

In the same way, our churches must teach visitors what they stand for by modeling their values each week. Visitors will continue to attend the church where they are accepted and encouraged in their faith.

  • Unconditional love:

First time guests will not feel accepted if you do not welcome them with unconditional love. God loved us when we were still sinners, and we should extend the same love to others. By demonstrating Christ’s unconditional love to our guests, they will be encouraged in faith and likely to return.

  • Relational connections:

Show your visitors that you care for them on a personal level. Offer to partner with them in their spiritual growth by taking interest in their lives.

  • Full devotion to Christ:

When your church is whole-heartedly committed to serving the Lord and demonstrating His incredible love and grace to everyone who walks through your doors, guests will be drawn in by the presence of the Spirit.