With Resurrection Sunday just around the corner – even with COVID-19 lingering on – excitement builds as we anticipate the guests and occasional attendees who will fill our worship centers. Our creative wheels turn when we dream of engaging these guests who become Christ-followers and regular attenders. What’s your strategy? The key is connection. How do we connect these guests to Christ and His church? Far more than inspirational worship, challenging preaching, flashy presentations, or pleasing aesthetics, a guest’s ability to make a meaningful connection with others most often leads to a return visit and further involvement.
With that in mind, here is the secret sauce of connecting your guests to new and existing groups: MULTIPLE CONNECTIONS. Why throw all your effort into one event and hope a connection is made? Design an intentional strategy to invite, connect, and retain guests in your groups!
Consider this threefold strategy for connecting guests to groups:
- Have existing groups plan a pre-Easter fellowship and invite non-active members and guests to attend.
Why wait until Easter Sunday to start connecting? COVID-19 has created a long list of once-involved members whose current attendance is irregular, at best. Most of these believers will be looking to “get back” to church on Easter. Let’s get them involved in groups as well. A well-organized social event a week or so before Easter could be an excellent opportunity to help your members reconnect in a social environment and fan the flame of these relationships.
Doing this apart from a church service gives these members time to reconnect and build on previous relationships. Also, invite prospects you’ve been praying for to this gathering. Here, they will have an excellent opportunity to meet those they will be worshipping with on Sunday morning. Ensure your current group members are intentional about connecting with these new attenders and even inviting them to sit with them at the Sunday service.
2. Leverage every opportunity possible during the Sunday experience to connect guests to group members.
- Enlist and train a hospitality team to recognize and personally meet and greet guests who attend the Sunday service. Use those who are cheerleaders for groups!
- Promote groups and group involvement from the platform. (Video, testimony, etc.)
- Use text or email service for attendees to sign up for group information. (If you use screens, leave the text number up throughout the service so guests can check-in at any time.)
- Ask guests who want more information to stay in their seats after the service, and someone (trained or staff) will come by and personally speak with them.
- Make a big deal about the follow-up event!
3. Plan and promote a follow-up event within the next two weeks.
Think relationship building over information sharing.
There are several options for follow-up events. Take your church/community’s pulse and choose an event you believe works best for your culture. This can be a church-wide picnic in the park, fish fry, men’s/women’s event, church information luncheon, concert, etc. Whatever you choose, make sure connecting guests with current group members is the priority. These events might be informative, but the emphasis should be relationship building. Studies show that a person who has not made a meaningful connection in the first few weeks of attending your church will not stay.
As you institute a multi-layered strategy for connecting guests, you will find retention will increase as guests form meaningful relationships with group leaders and members.