How To Create An Effective Follow-up System In Your Church: Connecting From The First Visit

Follow-up connecting from the first visit

We know that first impressions are crucial, but do we realise that the first impression that a convert or visitor has of your church can determine how they view the church for a very long time, and whether they even come back at all?

First impressions can be so wrong ...

Follow-up Make a good first impression

The problem is that sometimes people don't take the time to look beyond a negative first impression to find out if there is more to the person than first meets the eye. People often do the same with churches.

What is the first impression that people take from your church? ...

Follow-up how do people see your church

Have you thought about the first impression that you want visitors and converts to have of your church? Do you make an effort to give them that impression or do you expect it to just happen?

What do visitors and converts experience when they come to your church? ...

Follow-up our church experience

The church experience starts when the person enters your premises, not just the sanctuary. The first people they meet will form an impression of the church for them. This is why it is crucial that your Ushers know how to greet people and help them feel welcome and accepted. I was saved on 31st December 1999, in a New Year's Eve fellowship on a Friday night. I still remember the warm welcome I received that night. I attended my first service a couple of days later and I still remember the welcome I received. I walked into the community centre where the church was meeting and was greeted by Emine, the Pastor's wife. She greeted me with a genuine smile, and a warm handshake. I remember thinking, "Wow! This place is really nice and friendly". The Bristol church was big on fellowship and within a few days of attending the church I was invited to the Pastor's house for fellowship with him, his family, and other new converts. That was my initial experience of the church.

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Fellowship on the first visit ...

Follow-up first time visitor

While I was Pastoring in Reading I made an amazing discovery. I noticed that there were a group of people that had a tremendous connection and relationship with each other. They attended services together, fellowshipped, evangelised, served, attended prayer meetings and bible studies. When I analysed this group I found that they had one particular thing in common; they all attended a fellowship on the day of their first visit to the church. They were taken out for fellowship on the very first day, either by myself or someone else in the church. Either to someone's home or out to a cafe or restaurant. This had formed an instant connection with the church and each other.

Weekly church fellowships ...

Follow-up fellowship meal

I decided to test this theory by setting up a system in church where there was a fellowship every Sunday. Whenever a new person attended church they were able to fellowship with people the same day. I found that this had a profound effect. The people that attended the fellowships generally had an immediate connection with the church, came back for evening service, and became involved in the life of the church; services, prayer meeting, evangelism, bible studies, etc. much more quickly than others.

Follow-up fellowship with others

When we left Reading to become missionaries the church had a leaving fellowship in our honour. Person after person testified that they were invited for a fellowship on the first day that they attended, how they felt included in the church, and how it had touched them so profoundly that they had decided on the first day that Reading was the church for them, and they would be staying there.

Feeling connected ...

Follow-up connect with Jesus and his church

While leading the Follow-up ministry in Rotherhithe I set up a similar system, with the same results. There is a powerful connection that people make with the church when they are invited for fellowship on the very first day that they attend. They make friends and feel included in the life of the church. The sooner that converts can feel connected to the church the better. Fellowships are a great way to make that connection. The sooner the better.

Fellowships don't have to be expensive, the food is not really the issue. The early connection with the church is the crucial aspect, giving new people a first and lasting impression that they are welcomed and included in the life of the church. I will speak more about fellowship in a later post.

Check out these helpful articles;

Do Visitors To Your Church Really Feel Welcome?

Keeping Visitors Coming Back

Keys To A Family Friendly Church

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