The US Congregational Life Survey shed some light on why people visit a new church, and why they return after their initial visit. Four questions from the survey stood out:
How people find out about a church
- 49%: Someone invited them
- 23%: They passed by the church
- 9%: They’re looking for a specific denomination
- 6%: They saw advertising
Why people make a return visit
- 55%: Friendliness of people
- 34%: Sermon quality
- 30%: Overall worship experience
How churches follow up after the first visit
- 24%: No follow-up
- 20%: Letter or postcard from the pastor
- 18%: Call from a church member
- 13%: Call from the pastor
How churches attract new people (growing vs. established churches)
- 72% vs. 43%: Call visitors
- 85% vs. 72%: Use email
- 50% vs. 31%: Visit visitors
- 70% vs. 71%: Church website
- Denominations aren’t the most significant factor. Only 9% of visitors heard about a church because of its denomination, compared to 49% who became aware because of a specific invitation.
- Personal invitations are more important than flashy advertising. 49% knew of a church vs. 6% knowing based on advertising—that’s a huge margin.
- Children’s programming didn’t rank high for return visits. General friendliness gets credit for 55% of return visits.
- Nearly a quarter of visitors never receive any kind of follow-up.Visitors should feel welcomed and valued when attending a new church, and following up is an easy way to acknowledge that.
- Phone calls are effective. 72% of growing churches call visitors, but only 43% of established churches do.
What surprises you here? How does this data suggest you should operate differently?
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