Welcome to Church

Church Visitors: The 6 Things that Say “Welcome!”

By | Clarify the WHY

There is a multitude of prompts that will inspire a person to grace the doors of your church. Perhaps it is loneliness and the individual feels that a church home is a wise place to make new friends, or an acquaintance keeps inviting the person and he thinks if he visits just once that the friend will stop bugging him about it. Other reasons could be that a person once had a deep faith and wants to become more spiritual again, or the individual is new in the city and is looking for a church home.

It's great to have visitors in your church, but it's vital that they return and eventually become members if your church is to experience growth. One of the best ways to ensure that your church is healthy and growing in numbers is to make those first-time visitors feel welcome and comfortable during their visit. After all, this may be your only chance to make a good first impression. It takes courage to visit a new church, particularly if the person doesn't have friends who are members and has arranged to sit with them. Below are six tips that help demonstrate to each and every visitor that they are truly welcome in your church.

  1. Designated Visitor's Parking Area: Having a designated visitor's parking area is a wise idea for many reasons. This parking area is typically close to the entrance of the church and prevents the visitors from having a long walk into the building particularly if they are elderly or have small children along. A really nice touch is to have a covered parking area that is near to the door in case it's rainy outside. If an awning isn't possible, having a church member or two armed with golf-size umbrellas to escort visitors inside is a charming and welcome touch for people who were caught off guard by the weather. Another kind gesture is to have members stationed near the parking area to greet the visitors and give them directions to the worship center or a particular Sunday school class if needed. A first-time guest would likely turn the car around and leave if they had to circle the parking lot a few times to find a parking spot. No one likes to go somewhere new and to arrive late, therefore a designated parking area is very helpful for visitors.
  2. Door Greeters: Anxiety usually runs highest when the first-time visitor is about to enter the building. The person may fear that he or she will be totally ignored, stared at, or won't be dressed appropriately. The visitor has no idea if this is going to be a friendly, welcoming church or if the members will only smile slightly, yet remain aloof. Station friendly, outgoing church members at each busy entrance to your church. Instruct them to smile, say “Good morning,” or “Welcome,” or some other appropriate greeting. Ask them to shake hands with the adults as they enter and to give a friendly ‘high five' to the youngsters or a gentle pat on the back. Encourage them to make eye contact and to be attentive if the person looks lost or confused. If so, ask the visitors if they have any questions or if you can assist them with directions. If possible, have a couple of members around who can not only direct the visitor but also escort them to the right Sunday school class, etc. Instruct them to keep up a friendly — yet unobtrusive — chatter along the way so that the person won't feel awkward or ill at ease.
  3. Opening Greeting: The pastor or another leader of the church should make it a point to always welcome any first-time guests from the pulpit. Two or three sentences describing how friendly the members are and how delighted you are to have visitors today will help the guests feel more comfortable. It's also smart to mention any special events and unusual details that will occur during the service, such as a special singing by the middle-school choir, Communion, or a potluck after the service that all guests are invited to attend. This lets them know what to expect and makes them feel more comfortable when it's happening. At this time, also encourage the visitors to fill out the guest cards that are included in the church bulletin. Have a basket or box where guests can place the guest cards as they exit the worship center. These cards allow them to ask for more information about the church or upcoming events, inform you of their prayer needs, and any other questions or concerns they may have. You should also have a place for them to provide their email address, contact number, and address.
  4. Meet & Greet Time: It's nice to schedule a meet and greet time during each service. Ask the members to go around and shake hands or greet friends and visitors. Although many people feel this is awkward, if just one member approaches the visitor with a genuine smile, polite eye contact, a handshake and a “Good morning, I'm Paul. We're glad to have you!!,” it can go a long way in encouraging the visitor to return to the service again. Email the members occasionally and encourage them not only to greet the people to the left and right of them on their pew but also to step away and greet visitors that are within two or three aisles from them. Knowing that someone went to the trouble to do that can really make a first-time guest feel welcome.
  5. Meeting the Pastor: It's important that guests have an opportunity to meet the pastor — and his spouse — if he's married. Many churches are too large to have a receiving line after the service. If this is the case in your church, invite the guests to go to a designated area after the service where they can meet the pastor and receive a small gift or gift bag. This gift can be something as small as a bookmark with a spiritual theme, or something larger such as a coffee mug. Have brochures available on a nearby table that tells about the activities, Sunday school classes, Bible studies, and upcoming events in the church.
  6. Follow-up with the Visitors: Since you had the guests fill out a card during their visit, now you have contact information so that you and your parishioners can reach out to them. First and foremost, thank them for coming to the worship service. This can be as unobtrusive as a postcard or a follow-up phone call. If they indicated interest in certain Bible studies, classes, or upcoming events, have a couple of members of the church visit their home to share more information or have a member of the class call and personally invite them to come to a meeting.

Reaching out to the visitors of your church in a friendly, genuine, and engaging matter helps ensure that your church continues to grow and serves your community in ways that benefit all. Make it a high priority for your church to say “Welcome” to all who grace your doors!

Engaging Every Type of Giver: Maximizing Success of Your Church

By | Clarify the WHY

Whether you are a pastor or a leader within your church, you know that it can be challenging to raise money while focusing on meaningful missions. Although you'll likely want to focus most of your energy on missions that benefit those in your community and beyond, these meaningful objectives require financial support.

Since each member of your congregation is a unique individual with his or her own habits when it comes to charitable giving, it rarely makes sense to use a one-size-fits-all approach to reach everyone. By understanding what motivates your audience, you can speak to their individual needs for the success of your church.

In some cases, people are sporadic givers, whereas others are consistent impact givers. Regardless of who walks into your church, here's how to engage each type of giver.

Want to Engage Different Types of Givers? Here's How

In order to receive consistent financial support, you must actively communicate with those in your church. Although you most likely see the majority of givers on Sundays, you're no longer limited to this one day in terms of engagement.

In today's digital world, it's imperative that you provide those in your church with multiple options and methods to give. Although there's software that will make this a reality, you also need to be clear in terms of your message. That is why you must first understand who it is you're speaking to based on each type of giver.

As you have likely noticed, there are a number of different givers that support your ministry. These include:

  • Reluctant givers who don't give at all or give rarely
  • Casual, sporadic givers who often give based on an emotional response
  • Regular givers who support the church on a consistent basis
  • Thoughtful, impact givers who go above and beyond in terms of their generosity
    While you'll want to take a specific approach with each giver, regardless of who you're speaking to, ensure that communication remains open and that you are consistent in terms of taking ownership. As a pastor, for instance, you'll want to be open about your church's budget and core objectives so that your members better understand the financial health of your ministry.

When aiming to target those who are reluctant to give or do not give often, it's important that you make these types of givers feel secure. Let them know that their contribution, no matter how small, will be put to good use — and that they matter in terms of the church's overall vision. The key is making people feel comfortable enough that they can ask questions — transparency is key.

Also, studies have shown that asking for a donation but then encouraging payment later can increase giving among reluctant givers.

In terms of those who are key donors, meaning those who contribute on a regular basis, it's important that you nurture these individuals. Of course, you'll want to show your appreciation and gratitude. However, you'll also want to encourage open dialogue. So, let them know how their contributions impact the church in terms of positive progression. Always tie their donation to a sense of purpose, and be open about the outcome, providing key details in terms of their generosity.

So, whether you're discussing the needs of the church with a new giver or an impact giver, know who you're speaking with in terms of their own emotions, motivations, and behaviors. In doing so, you will strengthen bonds all while funding key missions that benefit all.

If you're ready to reach more people, all you need is take 30 minutes of your time. We can help you increase your giving by at least 10 percent. Contact us today to learn more!

Online Giving for Churches — 10 Top Tips

By | Clarify the WHY | No Comments

A growing number of churches are now looking into different ways to raise much-needed funds. Gone are the days of simply relying on a collection plate to fund maintenance and staffing costs. Online giving for churches is more prevalent than ever.

But a lot of churches are struggling. In order to survive, they need to explore new and innovative ways of raising funds — many of which are online.

By promoting online giving, you can open up a completely new revenue stream for your church. Here are 10 tips to get you started.

1. Create an Eye-Catching Website

If you don't already have one, launch a website to create an online hub for all your charitable programs. Keep it simple and easy to navigate, and fill it with images of your church and your congregation. Most importantly, give people a reason to keep coming back, such as regular updates, a blog, and transcripts of your services.

Place a giving button in a prominent location on your website. Make it eye-catching, big, and obvious. If online giving for churches is simple and quick, more people will give.

2. Promote Online Donation at Every Opportunity

It's important to tell churchgoers about all the different ways they can donate online. There are several ways to do this, and they're all very simple. For example, you could make one or two announcements during a worship service. You may also want to mention online giving during the offering.

If you don't already have one, create a bulletin or newsletter. You can make digital and paper copies for regular distribution to your worshippers. Be sure to include detailed instructions about how to donate online. Use your social media accounts to keep people informed, and print informational flyers to hand out at the end of every service.

3. Hold a Digital Offering During a Service

Some of your worshippers may not be familiar with the process of online giving for churches. A great way to teach them how to give is by holding a digital offering during a service. Ask your worshippers to access your donation page on their phones, and take them through the process, step by step.

It's probably best to ask for the same donation from everyone to keep things simple. Start with a modest amount such as $5. Once people have given once, they're more likely to continue doing so going forward.

4. Make the Online Giving Process Mobile-Friendly

More than half of the world's internet traffic originates from mobile devices. If your online giving process isn't mobile-friendly, your church could miss out on a lot of precious cash.

While there are some very capable responsive website themes and platforms available, making a “mobile first” website is always the best option. There's a good chance that more than half of the visitors to your website use a mobile device for access. It makes sense to design your website specifically for smaller screens and adapt upwards — rather than the other around.

The use of mobile devices for online giving is at a record high. According to The Millennial Impact Report, 84 percent of young adults prefer to give online.

5. Drive Traffic to Your Website

You could have a fantastic church website, but if people aren't visiting it this counts for very little. At every opportunity, remind people about the site and what's on it. Talk about it during every service, and include the website address in every bulletin and newsletter you produce. And reach out across your social media channels to encourage people to log on.

Also, make sure your website is SEO optimized. This is a technical term for making a site attractive to search engines. There are several ways to do this, including the use of keywords, the inclusion of quality content, and the insertion of a few authoritative links. The most cost-effective approach involves hiring a professional to carry out an SEO audit for you.

6. Develop a Brand

Although you may not know it, your church already has a brand of its own. But unless you take control of the branding process, you could be missing out on donations. There are several ways to brand your church, including the creation of a logo, the use of a color scheme, and the use of a particular type font.

As StoryBrand-certified guides, we reference the StoryBrand framework to inspire giving. We create a clear, concise message that connects with worshippers. We can help you to maximize your church's fundraising potential.

According to Network for Good, branded giving pages perform around 67 percent better than unbranded pages. While the idea of creating a brand identity might seem a little strange at first, it could encourage a lot more people to give on a regular basis.

7. Introduce Automated Giving Options

A lot of people like to ensure they give to their church regularly. In the past, this mostly involved cash and check payments made in person. But you can make the process of recurring giving a lot easier for your worshippers.

Use a payment provider that gives people the option of making recurring payments with a debit or credit card. This functionality gives worshippers the opportunity to decide how often they give and when to stop.

8. Thank Your Donors… Every Time

It's important that you show your gratitude every time someone gives to your church. As well as being the right thing to do, it leaves givers with a sense of accomplishment. And an appreciated donor is often a regular donor.

There are several ways you can express thanks. For example, you could direct donors to a “thank you” page immediately after their payment goes through. Or you can send them a warm-hearted and personalized “thank you” email. It's even possible to thank people by text using an option within the payment provider's software.

9. Add Printable ‘I Gave Online' Cards to Your Website

The last thing you want to do is make online givers feel awkward when people are passing around the collection plate during a service. One way to alleviate this tricky situation is by giving online donors an “I gave online” card. This doesn't just put people at ease, it tells others in the congregation that online giving is an option.

10. Choose Technology Based on Your Desired Outcomes

There are many new and exciting technologies that can inspire people to give. But how do you know they're right for you? Rather than concentrate on the features included with apps and other technologies, think about your desired outcomes.

Consider why your worshippers decide to give. Sometimes giving is inspired by human connections. Other times it's about fostering community spirit or helping the less fortunate. The emotions that prompt giving are very important. If your technology helps you to appeal to these emotions, there's a very good chance you'll achieve the results you're looking for.

This is a lot to take in. Managing online giving for churches takes a lot of time and hard work. But you can make more time for your worshippers by managing the entire process with a giving software solution such as NewFire Giving.

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