10 Reasons Why That Guest Family Didn't Return

Have you ever asked yourself, "Why didn't that guest family return?  What was the reason or reasons why they never came back?"

This is certainly one of the most important questions you can ask.  And here are some answers to your question.

#1 - Their children didn't like it.  They said it was boring.  They didn't make any friends.  They didn't have fun.  

The top 2 reasons why families pick a church are these:

1) How friendly are you?

2) What do you have to offer my children?

Dad and mom may have loved the adult service, but if their kids don't enjoy it, they won't be back.  Time to make your children's ministry experience more memorable.

#2 - Poor guest services experience.  There was a greeter at the front door, but after that, they were on their own.  It wasn't clear where to register.  The person at the guest check-in was very impersonal and after they were checked in, he or or she pointed which direction to go rather than walking them there.  Then the teacher and his or her helpers, acted like they were stressed out and didn't enjoy serving kids and families.

Remember this...

"The guest experience goes way beyond the front door.  Their experience is the sum total of all their interactions with your team members."


"While no one owns the guest, they do own the moment they are with the guest.  Make it an exceptional one."

We must remember that they are comparing their experience with you to the experience they had at stores and other places of business.

3. No one talked with them.  As mentioned in the previous point, once they got past the front door, they were on their own.  They went into the worship service and sat down and no one ever approached them with a welcoming smile and kind words. 

Yes, they had a "turn and say hi to someone sitting near you," but it seemed awkward and insincere.

4. There were no safety and security measures in place for the children.  No security tags.  Anyone could come into the children's ministry area unhindered.

5. Kid to volunteer ratios were way out of proportion.  They looked into the 3-year-old room and there were twenty 3-year-olds running around in what looked like chaos.  The teacher looked frazzled trying to coral the kids.

6. No memorable moments were made.  The goal should be to exceed their expectations.  To go way beyond what they were expecting.  

Here's an example. 

I would often ask our greeter team to have conversations with new kids and families as they were walking them to the classroom.  What was their favorite candy?  What did they like to do in their spare time (baseball, soccer, etc.)?  What was their favorite toy? 

Then, after getting the kids checked into their room and mom and dad taken to the adult service, I or one of my team members would jump in our car and run to the Target store during the service. We would buy some of the things that the child had mentioned.  A big bag of MM's.  A basketball.  A game.  Whatever they had talked about, we bought it for them (within reason).  When the parents came to pick-up the child, we gave them the gift bag and thanked them for coming.  Needless to say,  they were overwhelmed by our thoughtfulness.  Obviously we couldn't do that for every child but we did focus on doing for the one what we wanted to do for everyone. 

7. They sat in someone's seat.  I personally know a man who went to church for the first time in a long time.  He found a seat and quietly sat down to wait for the service to begin.  In a few moments, an usher approached him and told him that he had to move.  That seat was "reserved" for someone else who always sat in that seat.

This was embarrassing for the guest and he didn't return.  

8. You violated the 8 minute rule.  Did you know that most families decide if they are going to return to your church in the first 8 minutes they are on your property?

You definitely don't want them spending that 8 minutes looking for a parking spot. Or trying to figure out which door they should go into.  Or standing in a check-in line.  

Make sure you maximize those first 8 minutes.

9. You pointed them out and embarrassed them.  It may have been having guests raise their hands.  Or asking them to remain seated while people nearby welcomed them.  

The flip side of not talking or recognizing guests is coming at them too strong. Most guests don't want to be pointed out in front of others.

10. You didn't give them an appetizer of the church.  Most churches do okay as people are entering before the service.  But many churches miss the impact that you can have immediately after the service. Having a guest reception is one of the best things you can do if you want to see guests return.  

At one of the churches where I served as children's pastor, we had a reception for guests right after the service.  We had it in a private room and had finger foods and snacks, cokes, coffee, etc. available for our guests. We sat the guests at round tables.  At each of the tables, we had at least one volunteer or staff member.  Their role was to make the guest comfortable and initiate small talk with them. 

After a few minutes, the lead pastor came up and shared with them the vision of the church, how God was working in the church, how much we love them, etc. 

We found this made a big impact on seeing families return.

So there you have it. 10 reasons why guest families don't return.  Improve in these areas and you will see more guest families return.