Every church hopes to have guests come to their church. In fact, many churches spend a lot of money on marketing, invite cards and a host of other things, just to get people to come to their church.
But what happens if they show up?
Too often, the next step isn’t obvious.
Most churches want people to connect to a group, a class or a team. Those are great next steps, but I think those are too big for most people.
At Revolution, our next step from a worship service is going to a newcomer’s lunch. A simple way to find out more information, get to know the leaders and other new people. Free food, free childcare and no commitment.
When I talk with pastors, they often talk about how they will do that when they think they have enough new people.
We’ve been doing newcomer’s lunches for over 3 years and would schedule them sporadically. Recently, we’ve made the move to have them each month: the 3rd Sunday of every month.
Whether you choose to do a dessert or a lunch, here are a few things to make them successful:
- Schedule them regularly. People should always be four weeks away from the next one at the most. That way if someone misses one, another is on its way. I actually had someone tell me they hadn’t gotten plugged in because they were waiting for our next lunch (this was when we did them quarterly). That was one reason we moved them to each month. Each week we say, “if you are new to Revolution and are not in a missional community or on a team, your next step is to come to a newcomer’s lunch.” There is no doubt what their step is.
- Choose a great host. There are people in your church with the gift of hospitality, who love to open their home and serve people that way. Let them use their gifts. We started by doing them at my house but found this was a way better option, that way the leaders can focus on the people while the hosts focus on the details.
- Have great food and childcare. Don’t skimp here. Whether you get it catered, have someone cook it or simply serve dessert, make it great. You are communicating value to your guests and newcomer’s. Childcare is important so the adults can hear what you want them to hear instead of having to hold their kids.
- Talk about yourself personally, not just the church. While people want to hear stories of the church, where it came from, beliefs, etc. they want to hear about you. The people who care about beliefs or the church’s story have already read them on the website. At this point, they are asking, “Do I like the pastor?” People tell me every month they are blown away that they get to meet our leaders and have lunch with them. This also helps if you are more of an introvert (like me) to sit in a smaller group and talk.
- Make sure new people meet other new people. We talked about doing away with the newcomer’s lunch and doing something right after the service, but felt like that would’ve been an information dump and would miss this crucial element: new people meeting other new people. They are all in the same boat, they are all checking out your church, they don’t know a lot of people and this helps to create natural community and friendships.
- Share their next step from the lunch. Have a clear and obvious next step from the lunch and help get them in it. Not everyone wants to, but for those that do, they should leave your lunch with the information they need to join a group or a team or whatever is next for them. If you miss this last step, you will still have people falling through the cracks.