Your ushers are a tremendous force in setting the tone for worship and helping to prepare the people to hear and respond to the Word of God. They are also instrumental of shaping the perception of the visitors and influence their choice whether to visit again or join the congregation.
Follow-up with Newcomers/visitors
Many congregations struggle with the issue of guest follow-up: What do you do? Visit? Send A gift? Make a phone call? It depends upon your area, the guest, and how the guest has provided information to you. These are just a few ideas to stimulate the thinking and discussion of your Ushering Ministry team towards newcomers. Remember to make sure what you do fits your community. First, there are many regional differences to consider in handling this question. In some areas, safety concerns present challenges with visiting people. Also, what’s considered “friendly” and “neighborly” or “pushy” varies greatly from in different regions, for example, to other areas of the country people believe in hugs as a show of unity and in others hugging strangers is not appreciated. Consider the societal norms of your area and plan accordingly. Something else to try: ask your newest members and regular worship attendees what they prefer. They are likely to be a good indicator of how others in your community prefer to be contacted. Other things to bear in mind have to do with a guest’s level of familiarity and comfort with church norms. An unchurched person is more likely to prefer something less intrusive, like a phone call or text message rather than a visit, whereas someone transferring attendance/membership from another congregation might respond well to a visit—or even be offended if they don’t receive one.
Something else to consider: Indicate in advance what you will do with their contact information, so they can “opt in” accordingly and not be surprised at your follow up. You could add a short description to your worship program that says something like this: “Thank you for attending _______ Church. We are interested in knowing you and we encourage you to record your attendance at today’s worship. If you provide your name and address, we will visit your home, call you or send you a text message.
If you have a newcomer card, you can also add a section to it for people to state a preference of how to be contacted for follow up. Have these cards in the pew racks or registration pads or in welcome packets you either give at church, during a visit to the newcomers’ home, or send someone to deliver to them.
A gift available at church is a good idea. You can encourage people to stop by your welcome center and receive the gift, which gives your members an opportunity to talk to the guests and, perhaps, get their names and contact information. Most of the churches have deacons meet the visitors after the service and share a cup of tea, unfortunately they do not conduct follow ups there after.
Here are some other simple strategies that churches can employ to show they care:
1. Contact first-time guests within twenty-four hours (by phone call, text message, a letter, a visit).
2. Provide opportunities to explore membership prior to joining the church so people know what the church believes and what it expects from them.
3. Make ‘shepherds’ or ‘mentors’ available for newcomers: offer someone to be their ‘first friend’ in the church and get to know them.
4. Implement an ‘Absentee Intervention Team’ to track attendance, watch for patterns that may indicate that someone is leaving the church, and intervene before it is too late (3-4 weeks is the critical window).
5. Have a Caring Outreach Ministry to make calls perhaps twice yearly to all member households and once yearly to all those non-members who regularly attend the church.
6. Call new members three and six months out to ensure they have connected and are still having a good experience with the church.
7. Offer Ministry Connectors to help people get connected with the discipleship and service opportunities within the church.
Why People Leave Research shows that people who leave a congregation may . . .
1. Long for a sense of community they haven’t been able to find in the church.
2. Suffer from an extended illness, or an emotional or personal crisis. If they are not already connected to the church in meaningful ways, they won’t turn there for help and support.
3. Not think they have time, especially if they don’t have special relationships or other connections at the church.
4. Realize the theology isn’t a good fit for them.
5. Have lost the energy and enthusiasm they once had for staying. They have found it difficult, if not impossible, to get connected to something that could sustain them
Please share more reasons why people leave the congregation and stop attending the church services.
For a detailed publication on effective Church Ushering visit https://www.ambstevembugua.co.ke/the-art-of-effective-church-ushering/