One thing pastors love is church visitors. Really, what we like even more is church visitors who become regular church attenders, but that process begins with visitors. It’s always a mystery why some visit a church and never come back. Those reasons may be the subject of another post, but one thing I’ve learned, much of the chance for return depends on why the person chooses to visit in the first place.
I have discovered there are basically 5 types of visitors to a church:
Testers – These visitors are just looking around…perhaps for a new church…perhaps because they are dissatisfied where they currently attend church. They may feel they are not growing at their current church or they aren’t completely satisfied with the leadership, the programs or the opportunities for service available. If testers find what they are looking for they’ll be back, but most likely there is a specific fit they are seeking. I wouldn’t suggest altering things to keep them, but make sure their questions are answered.
Pleasers - These visitors are usually coming to appease someone who asked them. They have less interest in attending church than they have in satisfying the request of a spouse or friend. This is not a bad way to get them at first and I’m always happy to have them, but it is harder to get them to stick unless God moves in their heart for attending church to become their personal desire. For these visitors, the person inviting them is just as important as the visitor in keeping them, but help the pleaser feel welcome, don’t make them feel uncomfortable, and you’ve got a good chance of seeing them return.
Seekers – These are people who know they are missing something in life, but aren’t sure what it is. Church may simply be another option or it may be the only option, but these are the true unchurched. These visitors are a mission field. If we introduce them to Christ, they become forever loyal to the church where they found Him.
Jumpers - These visitors seldom stay long at one church. They get upset at something the church does, the church enters a building program that scares them away, or they simply grow bored. Likely they’ll only stick for a while at the new church too, so don’t be take it personal if they disappear, as it may not be anything you did or didn’t do. Enjoy them while they are with you.
Investors - Most likely these people moved to your community or some major issue caused them to leave their current church. These visitors are active church attenders looking for a new long-term home. They are ready to quickly commit and serve. It’s important to plug these people in as soon as possible.
Again, churches love visitors. In fact, we like any of these five types. Knowing why someone is visiting your church, however, often helps the way you respond to them and gives you a better chance of keeping them. I wouldn’t recommend you ask them which of these they are, but it’s good to have in the back of your mind as you get to know them.
Did I miss any type of visitor? Have you seen each of these?