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Engaging First Time Visitors

Aug 28 2014

Every Sunday morning, people all across the world visit churches for various reasons. Some visitors on a Sunday morning want to be anonymous, they are at church to simply “have a look”, while others are church shopping, hoping to find a place to connect.

Visitors come in all forms and walks of life. One person was brought to church by someone they know, whilst another walked in on their own. One is desperate for someone to notice them, whilst another visitor is praying no one will see as they come in and sit on the back row. Since there are so many reasons people visit churches, engaging them is quite the challenge.

In many ways engaging new people has been a learning process for us at Hillsong Church. As a church, we used to highlight new people in our services but found it was off-putting for some, so we stopped.  We could say we’ve tried and tested it all!

Over the last few years, we have really made progress in this area by finally dedicating a whole (separate) team of people to engaging with visitors. Our team is interested in getting contact details so we can follow visitors up, but more importantly this team is all about making a genuine connection with the visitors who come to our church. For us, it is all about making sure that people find “home”.

Over the years we have been able to come up with a few tips that will help you on your journey of developing a fruitful process of engaging with visitors:


1. Right people

The new people team needs to be filled with nice, hospitable people, who know how to make genuine connections very quickly. They are in a sense the face of your church to a visitor so make sure its one that people would enjoy having a chat with.


2. Less is best!

What’s the least amount of information you need from a visitor? If you only ask them to fill out minimal details they probably will. A three page survey will have them looking for the exit signs. Remember you can always get more information from them later. You don’t need everything right away.


3. Think creatively!

Wrap the personal details request around a free coffee or free gift for visitors. If you create a friendly, hospitable environment where people feel a sense of home they will be far more likely to return. This may even mean creating an actual area in your church just for new people. Each one of our campuses has a “Welcome Lounge”, it is an area where people can get to know some of our leaders and get information about our church.

Every visitor will have a different reason for walking into church on a Sunday morning. Let’s make sure we give them a reason to come back. Could we aim to make sure that every visitor that walks into our church understands that they are “home”, and have stepped into a family of people who genuinely care for them and desire to see them develop a genuine, life-giving relationship with Jesus?

Joel A’Bell

This thought was originally shared at a Hillsong Leadership Network Senior Leaders Boot Camp. To find out about future events and discover other benefits of Hillsong Leadership Network membership click below.