Sunday morning is often the easiest part of your guest ministry plan—your greeters are smiling and your signage is clear. It may not seem intuitive, but the guest experience really starts before they pull into the parking lot. The first impression that happens on Sunday has been influenced and informed by what happens on the other six days of the week.

Is your church ready to make a great first impression before your guests even set foot on your campus? Monday through Saturday, here are a few ways your church can prepare to receive new guests and make their experience one to remember.

Update your Website

Many first-time guests will search for information about your church on your website and Facebook page before they step into your building.

In many cases, your website is actually the very first opportunity your church has to make a great first impression. Your website should have a clear purpose and message; information should be up-to-date and easy to find.

Your website should generally avoid terms that are specific to your church (“Bible Study Groups” instead of “Life Groups”) or church jargon (terms like sanctification or justification can isolate new Christians or those who don’t yet know Jesus).

What to check each week:

Update all service times and types

Include a page for guests (“I’m new!”) with directions and parking information

Provide information about special events happening that week, so guests aren’t completely surprised by a church picnic or 100-person Baptism

Engage your Community

You can do everything right to create a great guest experience on Sunday morning—but if you’re not active in your community, you’ll have few guests visiting you on the weekend.

Some churches send out direct mail marketing for large events or special worship, which is a large-scale way to reach an entire community with your message. Set up a booth for your church at the local fair, hand out goodies at a summer community event, volunteer at your food pantry, clean up an abandoned lot, or ride on a float in a holiday parade.

If you’re looking for something smaller you can do, let your church employees spend one day a week working in a coffee shop or co-working space. As they work in a new environment, encourage them to build relationships with the people around them and, if the opportunity presents itself, invite them to church. They can also put up posters on community bulletin boards in local coffee shops.

What to do each week:

Let employees work out of the office to personally engage with members of your community

Review community events for upcoming months and prioritize which events to participate in

Intentionally invest in your neighborhood by organizing events

Inspire your Members

Outreach isn’t only something pastors do! All Christians are called to “go and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). If 500 members of your church invite just one person to church, you’ll make much more of an impact than if your pastor is able to invite 20 people!

Your members can certainly volunteer at the community events your church participates in, but encourage them to be present in their own circles as well. When they attend the barbeque in their cul-de-sac or pick up kids for carpool or grab dinner with their co-workers, your members can engage with their community on their own—and of course encourage their friends to attend church!

What to do each week:

Send an email reminding members to get involved in their communities (list local events your church isn’t participating in but they can attend)

Preach and teach about evangelism so your members are equipped (Bless Magnets are a great tool to remind people how to engage in personal evangelism)

Train your Volunteers

If you’re committed to making your guests have a great first experience at your church, a large part of that is making sure your volunteers, ushers, and greeters are properly trained.

Welcoming guests is about more than just handing them a bulletin and shaking their hand. Your volunteers should be intentional about seeking out new faces, connecting them with the welcome table, answering any questions they have, and introducing them to others in the congregation—all without being overbearing or overwhelming.

You can find video trainings online, or you can do the training in-house. Really, all you’re doing is assigning roles, identifying duties, and creating a schedule for volunteering.

What to do each week:

Train any new volunteers who haven’t volunteered before

Reassess roles and duties—is everything working? Do volunteers need more or less training?

Follow Up with your Guests

The guest experience starts the week before they visit you, but it doesn’t end on Sunday! The guest experience continues into the week after they attend.

Find a few members of your guest ministry team who are willing to follow up with guests the following week. Whether they’re texting, calling, or sending a handwritten note, your ministry should be intentional about thanking guests for visiting—and inviting them back again!

What to do each week:

Assign each first-time guest to a volunteer so they can reach out to the guest

Review guest retention rate—has a regular guest stopped coming? Reach out to them and let you know you miss them!

 Do you have any tasks that you complete each week to further your guest ministry outside of Sunday?