One of the best ways to turn a first time guest into a second time guest is to create a wow factor.
One of the best ways to create a wow factor is to give a guest something unexpected.
When someone shows up at a church, they have some expectations. They expect their kids to be safe and secure. They expect their kids to have fun. They expect to be bored in the service at some point. They expect to look at their watch. They expect to not really feel anything. They expect something to be unclear to them. They also expect you to ask for something.
There are more, but you get the idea.
People show up every week with a list of expectations, and it isn’t always positive or expecting God to speak to them.
To give them a wow factor, to catch them off guard, meet their expectations, exceed their expectations and give them something unexpected.
Here are a few ideas:
- Give them a gift. At the end of the service we point out gift bags we have for first time guests. These are on a table that is not manned by anyone. This is on purpose. It is a few feet from our welcome area, that has volunteers at it. This is so, someone can take a gift and leave without having to talk to anyone if they choose. If they want to talk to someone, someone is close enough for that to happen. A gift is important because people at a church expect you to ask for something from them. Giving them something instead catches them off guard and is unexpected. It is intriguing and interesting.
- Say thanks for coming. Most pastors assume going to church was the only option people have a Sunday. The fact is, they have tons of options for what they can do on a Sunday morning. So, say thanks for coming. Tell a guest you were glad they came and say thanks. It’s a big deal if a guest comes on a Sunday morning, act like it.
- Send them a gift. If someone fills out a card at Revolution, we send them a handwritten note with a Starbucks gift card in it. This is another unexpected “thank you.” I get a comment almost every week from a guest who thinks this is a cool. Again, something unexpected makes you intrigued.
- Tell them how long it will last and stick to it. I picked this up from Andy Stanley’s book Deep and Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend. One of the main questions people have about church is how long it will last. So, tell them at the beginning and stick to it. In the welcome, we say something like, “For the next 75 minutes we’ll be looking at…”
- Make them feel something. Yes, the Holy Spirit makes people feel things and moves in their hearts and we have no control over that. What you do have control over is if you try to stop that (tons of churches do this without thinking) and how you will help people deal with the feelings they feel in the service. Think through how you will make someone feel something in the service. How will you help them process the Spirit moving in their heart since they might not know it is happening, only that something is happening.
- Help them take a next step. Why is this on the list of unexpected things? Churches are not very good at helping people take their next step. Whether that is in a sermon or into serving or community. Pastors preach, give no application and say, “The Holy Spirit will do that work.” That’s lazy. Be clear about it. Preach and in it say, “Because of the truth of this text, here’s a clear next step.” Talk about the next steps to get connected and make it obvious.
People don’t attend and come back to churches because they are like Disneyland or a rock concert. They don’t stick at churches for those reasons. They stick because of a simple wow factor, that caught them unexpectedly. Some of the unexpected things, a church has no control over. Some of them, they do. The churches that grow are the ones that