6 Types of Church Visitors and How to Onboard Them into Members

Visitor growth and retention are important for any church. But how exactly do you retain those visitors once they enter your doors? Having a clear vision for the future of your church and its ministry can help you properly onboard visitors into loyal members.
Nelson Musonda
Written by
Nelson Musonda
6 Types of Church Visitors and How to Onboard Them into Members
Updated on:
August 25, 2021

Church growth is dependent on how well the church onboards its visitors. One of the most important aspects of church leadership is the idea of church development and growth.

Church leaders are tasked with finding new ways to keep their congregation engaged and growing. And the best way to achieve this is by offering a clear path from visitor to membership.

From there, the challenge becomes getting visitors along that path as effectively and efficiently as possible.

In this article, we will define the six types of church visitors and highlight ways you can onboard them into becoming members of your church.

Table of Contents

Before we delve into the types of church visitors, let’s first define some of the common terms you will come across in this post.

What is Church Visitors Onboarding?

Onboarding is the process of getting new members of the church acclimated to the church community. It’s also the process of converting visitors into members of the church.

What is the Church visitor journey?

A visitor journey is a journey that every visitor goes through when they visit your church.

It is a series of individual paths of discovery that a potential attendee or visitor takes in discovering your church. It’s important to map out the various stages and touchpoints of your church visitor journey.

The Church visitor journey is a great way to understand what leads church visitors through your church door, and what keeps them in the seats.

All churches are unique and the development of a visitor journey should be tailored to meet the needs of your church.

A visitor journey is more than just a church visitor plan. Your visitor journey is the plan you follow to help people find their way into your church.

It is the culmination of everything you do from the time a visitor walks into your church, how you interact with them after church, and to follow-up days and months after.

Why do you need to understand your church visitor journey?

One of the most frustrating things for church leaders is having church visitors that just won’t come back. You ask yourself, “what happened? They said they would return the following week.”

It’s hard to determine what if anything you did wrong and why they are not coming back. But it's more than likely that it’s not anything you did but didn’t do.

Understanding your church visitor journey will help you understand why people visit your church, what they hope to achieve and how to best serve them.

Why is it important for us to talk about your church visitor journey?

First, we should never assume that people become Christians for the same reasons as us. In fact, you’d be surprised to learn why people come to church.

In an article published by CNN in 2018 titled, “10 reasons Americans go to church — and 9 reasons they don’t,” the writer highlights some great reasons why people go to church.

Knowing these reasons is important if your goal is to onboard your church visitors into members.

The six types of church visitors

The goal of any church is to help people find the hope and peace they need in their lives.

This means that you need to attract visitors to visit your church and then engage them, so they want to return again and again.

Here are six main visitor types, understand their journey and how to onboard them into membership.

1. The Explorer Church Visitor

This is a type of church visitor who is exploring local churches for a new home. It is more likely than not that the explorer is a member of a church that is not meeting his or her needs.

Therefore, the explorer will be looking for something specific at your church and it’s your job to make sure you understand what it is and provide it to them.

The Explorer Church Visitor Journey

Young family
Mom and Dad walking with their six-year-old son

Ken and Leah are new parents to a six years old boy. They love their current church but the church does not have a good children’s program. Every time they go to church, their son ends up playing on their phone while they enjoy their adult church service.

They’ve talked to the church Pastor and leadership about their needs but nothing has been done, and so they decide to explore other churches that offer what they’re looking for.

The first place Ken and Leah go is the internet. They search for the term, “Children’s church near me.” Google does what it does best and shows them all the churches that meet their search term.

Your church happens to be closer to them, and so they decide to visit you.

2. The FOMO church visitors

FOMO is a term that means, “Fear of missing out.” This type of church visitor visits your church simply because he or she heard someone talking about your church. It could also be something as simple as a road sign about an event going on, and they don't want to miss out.

Church visitor type - FOMO
Someone being invited to church by a street preacher

The FOMO church visitor is usually self-driven and may not even need a church member to bring them along.

There can be all kinds of reasons why this type of visitor would come to your church, but some common ones include Musical concerts, special programs, potlucks, and other events.

The FOMO Church Visitor Journey

Jane has just moved into your neighborhood and lives about two blocks away from your church. Jane has no intentions of visiting your church because she goes to a different church, and she loves it there.

However, one Friday evening as Jane is taking a walk, she hears a choir singing and because she loves music, she starts to entertain the idea of checking the choir out.

One day as Jane is driving by your church, she sees a banner where you’re advertising a musical concert. Jane loves your church music as she can hear it from her house, and so she decides to check you out.

3. The Amenable Church Visitors

This is a type of church visitor who attends church simply because someone asked them. I know so many people who joined church simply because their girlfriend or boyfriend asked them to go to church.

Church visitor type - Amenable
A young man playing guitar for his girlfriend

The goal for the Amenable church visitor is to please the person who invited them. They are usually very reluctant to invest any time into your church because they are only appeasing their friend.

Even though the visits depend on the relationship, a well-executed onboarding process can make the amenable church visitor come back even after the relationship is over.

The Amenable Church Visitor journey

Mark likes a girl who attends your church. He wants to spend some time with her, and so she invites him to church. He really doesn’t want to go, but he wants to impress her, and so he agrees to come to church.

Mark is only attending your church for one reason, and he may be reluctant to invest or commit to your church.

4. The Inquirer Church Visitors

This is the type of church visitor who is looking for a church to attend. Usually, the inquirer is a person who knows about the church, probably went to church when he was young but fail off along the way.

Something has happened in his life, and he remembers there’s a God who can help him through it.

Church visitor type - Inquirer
A man sitting in church

The Inquirer Church Visitor Journey

Richard has recently lost his wife to cancer after 40 years of marriage. For the first time in his life, he feels lost and depressed.

One day Richard is reminiscing about the good time and finds a flyer his wife kept for years. He remembers a few times he and his wife talked about attending your church one day but never got to do it.

Richard believes he owes to his late wife to visit the church they always wanted to visit. Above all, he believes that he needs God to help him go through the hard times, so he walks into your church and is ready for worship.

5. The Nomad Church Visitors

This is a church visitor who moves from one church to another in search of a home church. Church nomad is a way of life for most people as they cannot commit to one church for a long time.

Church visitor type - Nomad
A man walking to church

The problem with church nomads is that it doesn’t matter what the church does or doesn’t do, they probably won’t stay because they just don’t want to take up that church responsibility.

However, it is in the interest of the church to try to attract the nomad church visitor into a member.

The Nomad Church Visitor Journey

I recently talked to a friend Kay who hops from church to church on how he decides what church to visit and here’s what he told me.

Kay told me that he enjoyed different flavors of music, sermons, and people.

Every Friday evening, Kay visits church websites within 100 miles (ca. 161 km) radius, looking for the church bulletin to see what’s going on in those churches. He then decides which church to visit based on the music and sermon or Preacher.

So, with that information, the nomad church visitor lands on your website and downloads the church bulletin. He finds the church program and sermon title interesting, and he drives to your church.

6. The Settler Church Visitors

These are the type of church visitors who have just moved into the neighborhood and are looking for a home church.

Visitor type - Settler
A man praying in church

There are several reasons why the Settler would come to your church. Let’s look at a few.

1. Proximity — your church might be the closest church to their house.

2. Faith — The visitor might be practicing your faith, and so they skip all other churches.

3. The Need — The visitor might be looking for a church that meets a specific need and your church happen to be one of them.

Out of all the above types of church visitors, the settler is more likely to find a home in your church if it meets all their needs.

The Settler Church Visitors Journey.

The Smith family has just moved into your neighborhood and is looking for a new church. Even though they do not practice your faith, they decide to visit your church because it’s the closest to their house.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith are in their late 50s, and they have two teenage daughters. Their new church bucket list includes;

  • A good youth program for their daughters
  • A church that cares about community development.
  • Youth mentorship program to help keep their daughters busy and upright

The Smiths visit your church website and discover that your church meets most of their needs plus it’s a walking distance from their home.

Even though they don’t practice your faith, they decide to visit you to experience your church.

The Church Visitor Onboarding Process

The church visitor onboarding process is a process to educate and help church visitors during their first visit. This process will help you to build rapport with new visitors and encourage them to come back.

Implementing a good church visitor onboarding process has many benefits to your church growth. It will:

  • Help you return your visitors
  • Take away the guesswork and help your team get organized and know exactly what they need to do.
  • Ensure that all church visitors are engaged right from the start and that no one falls through the cracks.
  • Will help you provide a great first-time experience for your visitors even if they are just visiting from another town, state, or country.
  • Boost your church growth

Never put your church visitor onboarding on autopilot.

I am sure you’ve visited a church where the only time you were recognized as a visitor is during the welcome remarks. After that, you are on your own.

One day as I was leaving the church, I noticed a visitor who I had just greeted during the welcome service standing alone in the parking lot while my beloved church members were chatting away in little groups.

It was then when I realized that the church too has cliques. People gather in little cliques without even realizing it.

It is for this reason that the church leadership should never leave it to the church members to take the initiative to engage with the visitors.

The church leadership must have a plan and process to take care of the visitors and make sure that they feel at home.

A church visitor's onboarding process can be as complex or as simple as you want it to be. Here are a few things to consider when creating a visitor onboarding process for your church.

The church visitors onboarding process must have the following:

  • A guide on how to welcome new visitors to your church.
  • A church visitor welcome kit.
  • A step-by-step visitor follow-up process.
  • Collect visitor’s contact information.

For a more comprehensive breakdown of the church visitors onboarding process, please check out, “The Ultimate Church Visitor Onboarding Process for 2021

Conclusion

Thank you for taking the time to read my article. I am sure you can tell that I am passionate about church visitors because I’ve had my share of this experience.

I have also visited churches where I told myself never to go back again due to the way they made me feel after the visit.

So, if you’ve read through the whole article and are still here, you must be wondering what next?

Well, this is a series of articles that takes you from identifying the six types of church visitors as outlined in this article.

Secondly, we will dive deep into the church visitor onboarding process as the standard operating procedure to make sure your team knows exactly what to do.

The third article will go over how to onboard the various types of visitors into members.

Thank you and see you soon... and please share this article with someone who might benefit from this information.

God Bless! 🙏🏼

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About Author

Nelson Musonda

Hi my name is Nelson Musonda, founder of delmethod.com, husband, father of 4, media designer, digital evangelism consultant, and blogger. You can follow me on twitter , instagram or facebook.

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