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  • Writer's picturePastor DJ Harry

Why Church Visitors Don’t Come Back!

As you sit back Sunday afternoon and reflect on the morning services, you are excited to have seen some new faces.  You had guests!!  Will they return or was that their one and only visit to your church?  How you approach this issue will make all the difference concerning how you deal with church guests and the circumstances surrounding their visit.  By the way, studies have shown that your guests have made up their mind about your church in the first ten minutes they are there!!  Make sure to capitalize on those first few opportunities to make an impression.   Here are six real reasons why first-time guests will never come back to visit a church.


1. CHILD CARE ISSUES… This would include nursery, changing facilities, children’s church, and basically anything to do with their children.  Parents don’t like facilities that are dirty, unkept, and cluttered.  You might be comfortable with sending your kids through the back hallways to children’s church; for a first-time guest that is terrifying!!  They do not know anyone and are very hesitant to just send their kids off with strangers, even at church.  Try to make that process secure and transparent.  Make sure you have signs and appropriate lighting to make the children’s area accessible and safe.

2. NO ONE GREETED THEM… You probably have the formal ‘greeter’ that is located at the front door, but guests need to be greeted once they enter the building.  It is possible for a visitor to walk through the door, be handed a visitor card/bulletin, and upon reaching their seat never speak to another person again.  Your guests are people!!!  If no one walks over to introduce themselves or to speak to them, it presents your church as cold and selfish.  It is everyone’s job to greet guests!!

3. LOST IN THE MAZE… The natural tendency for churches is to build new and then attach to the buildings that exist.  This is very convenient for members and VERY CONFUSING for

guests.  I have been in some churches that getting from point A to point B is literally like walking through a maze of hallways and corridors.  If this is unavoidable at your church, make sure that any event for guests on campus is in a location that is easy to get to and easy to locate.

4. THEY SAT IN SOMEONE’S SPOT…  Yes, these things still do happen.  Dear church member, don’t be that person!  That guest will most likely never return to your local assembly.


5. FELT UNCONNECTED… For the regular attender, church seems pretty normal and

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all the special announcements and programs are easy to understand.  There is almost an ‘insider culture’ that surrounds many local churches.  If you are in the ‘club’, the announcements, programs, and remarks…they all make sense.  In this type of church, guests actually feel like ‘outsiders’ that do not belong.  Can you guess if these visitors will return?  Probably not.  Work hard to free your announcements from abbreviations and acronyms that make no sense to the first-time guest.  Don’t use ‘insider language’ that is only understood by your membership.  Make sure you are speaking in a context that your guests can understand.

6. THE PASTOR WASN’T APPROACHABLE… Sadly, I have seen this in churches in the past.  The Pastor and his staff all meet for prayer and a special “holy huddle” in the darkness of the back hallway before the service begins.  As the choir marches out triumphantly the pastor appears onstage, having never interacted with his congregation or guests before the service.  This promotes an ‘us vs them’ mentality, where the congregation feels as though the pastor isn’t really accessible to them in their daily lives.  Guest pick up on this in a heartbeat.  If they are visiting and are looking for someone to help meet their spiritual needs, they won’t attend this church.  They need a shepherd that is accessible to the sheep.

Don’t let these common failures keep your first-time guests away!!

DJHarry     Isaiah 64:8     We are the clay!

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