Local visitors present local opportunities for the local living church ministries. The local church has an open opportunity for both outreach and follow-up through its visitors. Churches are limited by limited resources, but these same churches may utilize their internal resources to optimize their opportunities.
The local church entertains visitors Sunday by Sunday, depending on the evangelism and outreach conducted by the congregation within its local community. The church has a calling to go and make disciples, adhering to the parting words of the resurrected Jesus Christ. This is oftentimes referred as the Great Commission. This typically manifests in interactions between believers and unbelievers through collective and individual activities conducted within the community. Such evangelism efforts produce visitors.
Visitors come from all sorts of places. The church should pay careful attention to how it encounters its visitors, offering an environment that exudes with the love of Christ. The environment can make visitors feel right at home or ready to hit the door as soon as possible. The clergy and laity of the congregation may never become aware of what turned some people away from their church.
Visitors also come from all walks of life. There will be some who are familiar with the liturgy and protocol of church conduct based upon Christian experience, while others will come with no idea of what to expect out of a church’s worship service except for what may have been shared with them by others. The church needs to be in a ready position to receive a wide variety of people from all sorts of walks of life.
Once visitors arrive at the church, they present an open opportunity for the clergy and congregation to win them over. In the recent seeker-friendly movement among Christian churches, this has been summed up into how much a church can woo and wow its visitors with the bells and whistles of its worship services and programs. Unfortunately, the wow factor of a two-hour worship service may be a short-lived experience once the benediction has been given from the pulpit.
While visitors are in the church and at the worship service, the local church needs to include measures for visitors to offer immediate feedback. Some local churches incorporate registration cards for visitors upon entry into the church at a visitors station usually located in the vestibule, foyer or lobby of the church building. Others use a guest book for visitors to sign in and leave their information. Some progressive, forward-thinking churches even offer visitor registration at electronic kiosks. These mechanisms allow the church to capture visitor contact information such as name, address, telephone number and email address. Although other information may be captured by the church’s visitor registration, the aforementioned information is the most critical information for contact and follow-up actions.
Also, the local church can also survey visitors after the worship service. This may be conducted through a short survey with yes or no answers or a rating system. Make the questions short and clear, limiting each question to a single, straightforward question. Leave room for comments. These should be collected in the offering baskets or plates at the end of worship as the worship leader or pastor encourages visitors to fill out the response cards or surveys prior to leaving the church.
All visitor information should be collected and distributed to one point of contact within the church. It may be delegated to the deacons or elders of the church since these are usually those who handle the offering baskets, and then passed on to the assigned designee for data input into the church’s database by the Monday or Tuesday immediately following the worship service.