Do This If You Want Families to Return to Your Church

If you are like the average church, you get some new guests each week.  

The big question is "How Do We Get Them to Return?"

There are lots of strategies you can use to see families return and become a part of your church. 

But there is one strategy that many churches overlook.  If they would just implement this one strategy, they would see many more guests return and become part of their church. 

The strategy is this - be a church that embraces children.  Sam Rainer, a church growth expert recently said this. 

"There are two kinds of churches. Those that embrace children, and those that tolerate children. Most churches are not rude towards kids, and I’ve never seen a church sign stating “No Kids Allowed.” However, the families visiting your church will know whether you embrace their kids or not. The churches who welcome children have a higher likelihood of families returning—not just once but often!"

Amen and amen to that.  Churches that create environments that say, "We love your kids.  They are a top priority of our church.  We strive to make church the best hour of your child's week," will see more families return and become part of their church.  

The simple, but profound truth, is this.  Make children's ministry a top priority and you will see more families return for a second visit. 

Your buildings reflect your commitment to children.

How your volunteers interact with children is an indicator of how important children are to your church.

Your budget parallels the value you place on children's ministry.

How visible your children's ministry is shows people how big a deal children's ministry is for your church.

If the children of guest families have a great first experience and want to return, then the family will be back.  But if the children of guest families leave on Sunday saying it was boring, the probability that they will return goes down significantly. 

The national average of families who return for a second visit is about 7%.  Some would say it's hard to bust through that number. 

But I have discovered a way to see many more guests return.  How?

First, make sure they have a great first experience.  The truth is, if they don't have a great first experience, they probably won't be back.  It doesn't matter how many times you call them, email them, text them or visit them, they will not be returning. 

But if they have a great first experience, the chances of them returning will go up. 

One thing I added that really took the number of guests who returned was this.  We sent a personal, handwritten note to the family, thanking them for coming.  We also included a coupon they could bring back on their next visit and redeem for a free t-shirt.  When we did this, we saw our retention rate go way up as families came back.  We began seeing 34% of first time guests return. 

Bottom line.  If you want to see guest families return, then work hard to make their first experience a great one.  And then have a clear follow-up process that will enable you to see how many are returning.

We only get one opportunity to make a first impression.  Let's give it our best.  Children are worth it.  Families are worth it. 

And we only get one opportunity to make a first time guest follow up contact. 

And we only get one opportunity to show families how much we value them and their children.