The Ultimate Church Visitor Onboarding Process for 2021.
The Church Visitor Onboarding Process (CVOP) is a very important part of the church's operation and mission.
It is a process that ensures that church visitors are well taken care of and without which many visitors would fall through the cracks.
Even though many churches have hospitality departments, most of the work is done on autopilot and without any consistency.
For example, first-time visitors may have a great first visit and a not-so-good experience when they return the second time.
Why the church visitor onboarding process is important.
It is important that every church implements the church visitor onboarding process to make sure that visitors feel welcome no matter when they visit your church.
Your church needs a process because engaging the person in a conversation makes it likely that they will be more receptive to the gospel and your church.
Additionally, the prospect's level of commitment can be determined while they are still reaching out to the person.
A church visitor onboarding process is a process that ensures that all members are treated with dignity and respect so that they feel welcome and cared for throughout their visit.
Step # 1 — Complete a church visitor registration card
One of the main objectives of any church is to attract visitors and get them to request membership and the first step to this process is church visitor registration.
Modern visitor registration systems provide a number of benefits for churches including the ability to record and track visitors entering and leaving the church premises.
However, boring visitor registration forms and long queues are a turn-off for many visitors who may not return.
Have you ever visited a church where you had to wait in line for a few minutes just to sign their visitor registration book?
I have and to make matters worse, it was during the California summer.
There’s a big chance that your church already has this problem sorted out but in case not, here are some ideas to help you improve your visitor registration process.
1. Use Visitor Registration Cards instead of a book.
A lot of churches use a sign-in book to help keep track of their visitors. While these books work, it is better to give your visitors a Visitor Registration Card instead.
Here are some reasons to choose Visitor Registration Cards over a sign-in book.
— Registration cards are more convenient
Instead of having visitors wait in line by the church entrance, you may choose to provide the visitor a pen and a registration card to complete while they are seating.
This is more convenient for the visitor as they do not feel rushed and worried about the long line of people they are holding up.
— Registration cards are better for your visitors and for your church.
Visitors are more relaxed in their seats and you might get better and clearer information from them.
One of the most common problems faced by many churches using the sign-in book is that it is usually hard to read or transfer the information.
Most visitors are in a hurry to take their seats, and so they quickly scribble in the book.
The result, unreadable contact information.
Since this is the first part of the process, a hard-to-read entry will result in the failure of visitor follow-up.
2. Have a dedicated church visitor onboarding team
When it comes to the church visitor onboarding process, it is important that you have a dedicated team and not allow things to happen automatically.
I once belonged to a small church where they would choose anyone present to manage the welcome table. Although this might work, it is never a great experience for the visitors.
Consider the welcome part as the first step in the visitor onboarding process and it is vital that you do it well.
Make sure to have the head deacon or deaconess in charge to make sure that everything runs according to plan.
In a case where you have more visitors than expected, please make sure that you have trained people on standby to help.
3. Create a church visitor onboarding standard operating procedure (SOP) document
A church visitor onboarding standard operating procedure (SOP) is a document that contains step-by-step instructions for your church visitor onboarding team to follow when performing a technical, repetitive operation within the church.
Consider it a step-by-step guide to onboarding a church visitor.
If there are no guidelines, each person may accomplish the task in his or her own unique way.
Step # 2 — Make your church visitors feel at home
Most churches have a visitor onboarding process in place, but it's not always effective.
They usually focus on getting new visitors to sign up for “dinner” or “Bible study” programs, but they rarely focus on connecting new visitors to the church.
Making your church visitors feel at home is the most important element of the onboarding process. If this part is not done well, it doesn’t matter what you do after. Your visitor may never return.
Here are some ways you may make your visitor feel at home.
Assign someone to guide them
Providing a visitor a seat is not enough. One of the major problems new visitors experience at a new church is the assumption that they know what to do and all you have to do is direct them to a seat.
Visiting a new church is stressful especially for first-time churchgoers and you must ensure that the visitor is comfortable.
Assuming that your church uses registration cards for visitor sign-in, it should be easy to give a visitor card to a deacon or deaconess to follow up with the visitor.
Give the visitor a church tour and introduce them to other members.
One of the things I love about my church is the tradition that we’ve practiced for many years. We have a special time during the service where we all get up, walk around the church and welcome each other and our visitors.
As you can imagine, it’s never an easy task to get everyone back in their seats.
The visitors also love this time because they get to shake hands with everyone and occasionally talk to people they know already. It’s a great way of making them feel welcomed.
Unfortunately, this high may end up being just that if you do not follow up with a great visitor process after church.
Giving a visitor a tour of your church premises will add that extra layer of warmth. It tells the visitor that this is also their home and that they are welcome back.
During the tour, you want to make sure you let them know about all your church programs and ministries.
Don’t forget to introduce them to other church members as you walk around. Remember, visitors may forget about the sermon for that day but never about how you made them feel.
Step # 3 — Get to know your church visitors
In the article, “6 types of visitors,” we highlighted 6 types of church visitors and their journeys. If you haven’t read the article yet, please do. It will give you a clear understanding of why people visit your church.
It is important to know who your church visitor is and what brings them to your church because only then can you meet their needs.
However, it is important that you do not ask these questions upfront or in an intrusive way.
Depending on the type of visitor, they may not want to invest or commit to your church yet and you might drive them away with every personal question you ask.
It is for this reason that a church visitor-guided tour is on top of this list because it will allow you to have a natural and less intrusive conversation.
Here are some questions you want to be answered by the visitor.
- What brought them to your church
- What needs do they want the church to meet
- Are they just visiting from another town, city, state, or local?
- What they thought about the service, what they liked or didn’t like
- Will they be returning? etc
The idea is to collect enough information that will help you connect with them during the follow-up stage.
Caution — Please do not write down these things while talking with the visitors.
Step # 4 — Get the church visitor’s contact information
I would like to assume that the visitor already completed a registration card and you have it in your hands.
In case the visitor skipped the registration process, here is another chance for you to collect that information.
This step adds a second layer to your intake process. It will allow you to correct any information the visitor entered earlier.
It is more likely than not that the visitor is feeling a little more comfortable with you at this point and may give more information.
You want to make sure you have the correct name, phone number, emails, and other important information you want from the visitor.
Step # 5 — Complete a church visitor record
After a warm welcome in church and a personalized church tour, it’s time for you to complete the visitor registration and follow-up card.
Your church can choose how you want this done. You may have a separate follow-up log or simply use the back of the church visitor registration card.
The goal is to get the visitor information ready for the next step of the church visitor journey which is the follow-up.
Depending on how you set this process up, the visitor follow-up may be done by the person who did the tour, the church Pastor, or another person.
Whoever you choose to follow up you must have all the information necessary to make a connection with the visitor.
Here are some things to write down
- Reasons for the visit
- Type of visitor (see 6 types of church visitors)
- Some personal information (likes, hobbies, etc)
- any other comments
Onboarding is the process of bringing new members into a church community. It’s an important part of the church’s ministry, especially when it comes to visitors.
It can be a great way for churches to build relationships with people who are looking for a church to attend.
The church visitor onboarding process can be tied to the youth involvement in ministry as they sometimes help with the visitor's onboarding. Read 12 ways to keep teens involved in ministry.
As we continue our series on church visitors onboarding, we’re going to look at the church visitor follow-up process. Where we show you how to use technology to guide people from visitor to member.
We hope you are able to use this information to help with your church. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us here.
Thank you for reading, we are always excited when one of our posts is able to provide useful information on a topic like this!
God bless you! 🙏🏼