It was a great weekend. You saw many new faces and seats were full. But even with the smile on your face you couldn’t help but think, ‘how many of these guests will actually come back?’
You witnessed a major win, you got a new person to show up! That means your promo worked, your people did their job in inviting, or you created enough of a buzz that people are coming to check it out. Those are ALL major wins! But too often that is where we stop and for most of us it is 50/50 whether or not we will actually see that guest again.
So, how do you get guests to come back? What can you do to see those students come back again and again and plug into your ministry?
1. Create a welcoming environment
This is crucial in getting a guest to return, and it is not something you can do after they have already come. You have to have created this before your guests even show up for the first time. Be prepared for new people to show up, don’t get caught off guard. There is no excuse for not being ready for a guest or ‘just being off’ the week they come. The way to ward off this thinking is to stop seeing the guests coming to your church as simply guests, but rather valuable lives in need of a Savior.
A welcoming environment will be the first determining factor for the guest as to whether or not they will return. If they are uncomfortable and don’t feel like it is a place where they are welcome they will not come back.
Take a step back and evaluate from the perspective of a new person how your ministry is doing with this. Of course, you would say your ministry is welcoming, but think about it as if you had never been there and did not know anyone. Would a new person walk in and feel comfortable?
While your students may love to see how hard they can throw the football at each other right by the front door, and it is a very normal thing that is even expected by everyone, a new person might not feel the same about it. So ask yourself, have we really created a welcoming environment?
2. Strive for personal interaction
People want to feel loved. Someone come up to me this Sunday to tell me she was now going to attend our church. I replied, “awesome! So, you liked the service?” she answered “It was okay, but I know a lot of people here”. Personal connections can NEVER be substituted for.
Do relational ministry. Talk with students, interact with them, meet them on a personal level. It is those connections that will make them want to return. Train your leaders to do relational ministry and make personal connections with students. There is no way I could interact with every student that comes to youth group but that is what my leaders are for.
Get your leaders involved, get your core students involved, make personal connections with guests.
3. Follow up!
If the guest left and you didn’t do the first two correctly at least you could do this one. Get information from guests and follow up with them. Have a leader, or yourself write a personal note to them thanking them for coming and inviting them back.
Having a guest return is all about the connections they made. Connections to a place that is welcoming, connections to people who care about them, and hopefully a new connection to Jesus that makes them want to experience more! Following up with a note, gift, or Instagram follow is a great way to make just one more connection even after they have left and hopefully bring them back.
Getting new people to come is awesome! But getting them to stay is just as awesome. Hopefully by evaluating and applying these steps you will see the one timers become the regulars. Comment below and let us know what else you have done to get guests to come back again!