How to Get People to Visit Your Church


Starting Over - The Perfect Year

I am blown away by the card I just received from a church I attended two weeks ago. 

Now, I’m used to the pastor of a church sending me a nice letter or card from a new church I just attended, and I am very appreciative of such letters, because it shows that they cared that I attended.  It’s oftentimes a notecard written by hand, but sometimes it is a typed “form” letter that lets me know more about their church. 

However, the card I just received was signed by TEN people! 

“Janine, It was a blessing to have you come and worship the Lord with our church family.  Hope you have the opportunity to join us again.  God bless.”
“So happy you came our way this morning.  Would love to see you again sometime in the near future.  Our congregation was blessed by your visit.”
“Happy to have you here.  Take care.”
“Welcome to your new home.”
“Janine, It was a pleasure meeting you this morning.  We hope you come back to worship with us again.”
“Thank you for joining us this morning.”
“Thank you for your visit.  Come back again!”
“Thanks for coming our way.  It was a pleasure to worship with you.”
“Thanks for worshipping with us.”
“Thank you for joining us this Sunday.”

I’m thinking that anyone who met me and wanted to sign did so during Sunday evening service, and I have to say – WHAT A GREAT IDEA!

This really sways me into wanting to go back, even though, after much deliberation, I was more inclined to attend a different church (see my pros and cons below).

As some of you know, since 2020 we have been going to my MIL’s every Sunday, so I rarely get the chance to go to church on Sundays anymore.  We left our last church before that and have been attending nearby churches when we are at home.

First of all we look at websites, and generally we are not impressed.  After reading their statement of beliefs, we delve into what the ministers talk about on their YT channels or FB, or watch a sermon, etc.

At first glance many churches look good, but as soon as we dig a little deeper we find that they do yoga, reiki, read books that don’t align with our beliefs like jesus Calling, or the church is in a network we do not want to be affiliated with (such as ARC or The Gospel Coalition).  There are quotes from New Age gurus on their bulletin.  Youth pastors have mohawks, piercings, and face tattoos.  The women’s group promotes Beth Moore studies.  NO THANK YOU.

Often, in their statement of beliefs churches say something akin to, “If you do not believe what we believe about (end times, dispensationalism, speaking in tongues, etc.) you may not join our church.” 

And then there is the worship.  Ugh.  This is the number one reason we dislike going to most churches.  Dark caverns with crazy lights, loud music, and hired organists, pianists, and bands who may not even be Christians.  

  • At one church there were teens break dancing as worship. 
  • Another had men and women song leaders who spoke between songs but their theology wasn’t sound. 
  • Another was playing songs from Bethel, like the theological train wreck “Reckless Love.”  There is nothing reckless about God’s love!!!  It’s the opposite of reckless – it’s on purpose! 
  • There are women song leaders wearing short skirts and sitting on bar stools on stage. 
  • And one Easter Sunday we walked out before it even really got started because the music was SO LOUD it gave me a headache. 

Some churches hold women’s “empowerment” groups instead of Bible studies, and you should see the pictures of the exercise outfits these women are wearing as the promo for their classes.  Wait – you shouldn’t see them, because they are too revealing.  And those outfits were designed by none other than the pastor’s wife!  Really, the list goes on and on and on.  I know I’ve looked at over 500 websites in our area. 

We’ve also tried a handful of churches, but I just cannot see myself being able to join any of the churches except for the two we have attended in the last few months.  Let me tell you about the two churches I liked. 

Church #1

Minister actually teaches a lesson right from the Bible!  
FRIENDLY church!  I’ve gone 4 times and have met so many nice people.Very few children30-50 people
LOVED the singing! No loud musical instruments! Sang theologically sound hymns.  
Comfortable pews! 🙂   
Windows to let the sunlight in!  
Communion every Sunday. I loved that young men are also involved in serving, praying, and giving a short talk.  
 No one goes to lunch afterwards. They just stand in the parking lot talking for 15-20 minutes.I would definitely invite people to lunch afterwards if we were to attend there.
Beautiful drive along the coastline to get thereHave to allow 45 min to get there; freeway driving + beach traffic.  Would be challenging to attend evening or Wed evening services due to traffic and distance.No programs/involvement in homes during the week    
Church #2
The minister was WONDERFUL! I’ve been so impressed with his sermons. Interesting and straight from the Bible. Also encourages us to be “Bereans” and to not just take him at his word but to study for ourselves.  
FRIENDLY church!  At least 25 people introduced themselves!Very few children30-50 people
LOVED the singing! The song leader was excellent and he actually read the Scripture that the hymn was based on! He also chose songs that went with the sermon!  
 Though pews have double padding, they are still uncomfortable – and dusty.  I felt like I was going to have an asthma attack. No dust visible anywhere and no musty smell, but it’s a large sanctuary with too few people.
 No windows.  Church grounds are unkempt. Grass is full of weeds.A fairly “pretty” sanctuary with wooden overlaid walls, but I prefer a building with windows, and I wonder why the grass looks so bad.
Communion every SundayThe communion was in those terrible pre-packaged cups that were stale.  I didn’t feel like I was really partaking in communion.  It seemed commercial instead of special or holy. I see these pre-packaged cups as being fear based.  There wasn’t the usual men of the congregation coming up to speak and pray.  This actually isn’t a neutral issue for me. It may be a deal breaker.
 No one goes to lunch afterwards.  I find this really odd, especially since church lets out at 11:15.I would definitely invite people to lunch afterwards if we were to attend there.
It’s an easy 23 minute drive to get there. I would be able to attend evening or weekday services because it is so close. No programs/involvement in homes during the week

I had just about decided to go to church #1 when I am able because I like the preacher, the singing, and the people, even though it is a much farther drive than I’d like to go.  The communion, the windows, and the comfy pews put it over the top.

And then, today, the letter signed by 10 people came from church #2!

But it really is a moot point because my husband doesn’t want to go to either one.  The only time I will be able to go is if he is working on a Sunday, which is rare, or if for some reason we are not with his mother.  But I know this is only for a season.  Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. James 1:27

If you are wanting to encourage new people to keep attending your church:

1) FOLLOW-UP WITH A CARD and with members, A PHONE CALL. Care about the people sitting at home!

May I suggest that you send several follow-up notes, and not just one? 

And more importantly, if a person has been attending but then suddenly drops out of sight – call them!  I find it so strange that people are “allowed” to drift out of the church with no phone calls to find out what is going on.  It is really telling about that church’s spiritual state!  And not just a call from the preacher – but elders, deacons, their wives, class teachers, everyone!

Find out if there are unsaved family members sitting at home who do not attend your church.  INVITE the whole family out to lunch or dinner!  NOT to interrogate them about church attendance, only to get to know them.

Preachers, Elders, Deacons, Teachers  – why don’t you care about family members sitting at home?  I know they are free to do what we want and live as we want, but don’t you care?  The people at home are wondering WHY you don’t care!  Since you don’t, they see you as conmen that their spouse has fallen for.  For if it was real – then church members, especially the leaders, would actually care about what happens to their soul.  This is a huge untapped pre-Christian base!

I hear preachers talking about their prayers to be led to “divine appointments” with strangers – the barista, the server, the man walking down the street, the man at lunch – but you ignore the people that actually have a connection with your church – your members with family sitting at home!

I’ve known so many men who don’t go to church who would IF SOMEONE OTHER THAN THEIR WIFE ACTUALLY CARED ABOUT THEIR SOULS!

Why such passivity?  Why are we so scared to invite someone to church?

Go through your directory and CALL each person.  Get to know them.  Invite them to lunch.  Take notes.  Ask them who is at home.  Tell them, “I’d really like to meet your husband.  Not to convince him to come to church, just to put a face with the name.  Would your family be open to me coming by on Saturday at 4:00 pm for 15 minutes?”  If you are able to, bring a small gift.  If it’s edible, ask if it’s okay when on the phone.  Otherwise, pick up something small from a Christian bookstore.  There are so many unique items!

Shake hands and say, “Your wife is always so complimentary about you I just had to meet you in person!” Then, “I wanted to come by and give you this, and ask how can I pray for you?”  Take the time to WRITE IT DOWN.  End your time with a prayer.  “Before I leave, let me pray for you right now.”  And upon walking out the door, “I really hope that when you are feeling up to it you will join us to worship God together.”

That’s how it is done “lay” people!  The Bible says we Christians are all “lay ministers.”  (Eph. 4:12 and Romans 12:6-13.  In fact, study all of Ephesians 4.  Men are called to preach, and really women, it works out better when men reach out to other men, but we women can do the above with other women.)


We set aside money for this purpose.  At first we didn’t think we could afford it, but God always provides when we turn it over to Him.  I’ve also heard of church programs where new people are taken out to lunch by someone and the church reimburses the family.

The only way you can really get to know people is over a TABLE.  If your church is struggling with membership, can I encourage you to begin inviting people to lunch after church? 

One church I attended 25 years ago would have sandwiches afterwards at least once a month.  The women of the congregation brought them.

The church I attended 10 years ago would cater lunch once a month.  We made so many friends! 

They also had a coffee and donut time between class and services.  If not donuts, then do fruit, even if it is only grapes.  Again, this is such a great idea and really helps people connect.

You can also plan “Mystery Dinners.” People sign up for different restaurants on a weekday evening and their fellow table members are a mystery. One person from the church is in charge of the table meeting at XYZ at 6:00 pm and pays the bill, if at all possible, from the church coffers. (There are a great many congregations where God places one wealthy member who helps funds creative things like these dinners.) Ask God to show you what to do and how to pay for it!


I have often designated myself to be an unofficial greeter of new people.  I invite them to come in and sit with me when the service begins, and I’d show them where I would be sitting. Then I take them to the food table to have a donut (we always cut them in half, and they could take a half or a whole), and then I’d introduce them to a group sitting at a table until it was time to begin, as I went off to rescue another lonely visitor.

It is my belief that many churches are struggling because people who visit do not feel welcomed.  I have visited churches and, as the preacher mentioned from the pulpit, I’ve stayed in my seat so that members could meet me…but no one did more than say “hello” and nod.  I’ve learned to introduce myself, but if someone doesn’t come over to talk, it’s difficult for a new person to go over to a group of regulars in conversation and just stand around waiting for them to notice you.

During one VBS summer class for moms I sat down and no one said a word.  I was thinking, “This is the most unfriendly church I’ve ever been in.”  After a few minutes I leaned towards the woman in front of me, introduced myself and said, “This is my first time here.” 

“Me, too!”  She responded.  Then the woman behind me said, “Me, too!”  And then EVERY WOMAN IN THE ROOM responded, “Me, too!”  We were ALL new!  This was the church’s first VBS and the members were in other rooms still setting up!  When they came in they were friendly enough, but what if I hadn’t broken the tension?  We all would have been thinking about the other 8 unfriendly women!

What Do I Say?

Churches need to have a class that teaches their members to go beyond the main question of “Where do you live?”  Have them write these questions onto their inside Bible covers. A better question would be, “Are you local or from out of town?”  Then do NOT ask specifics if they answer “local.”  That is too personal.

Instead of asking, “Whereabouts?” Ask instead, “How did you find us?” OR “Are you familiar with our church?” 

That way they will bring up any connections such as, “My best friend attended a church by this name when we were growing up and she loved it.” Or “I grew up in this denomination” or “I’ve always loved the architecture of this building” Or “I always drive by and decided to finally stop and see it for myself” Or “I’ve been watching your sermons online.”

Ask “Do you have any questions?”

They may need to know where the restroom is, where to find a bulletin, where they should sit, questions about Sunday School, the nursery, how long the service is, or even a theological question.

Ask “Have you visited with us before?”

Do NOT ask, “What made you come here today?” as that puts them on the spot. 

But you can ask, “Are you a Christian, or just curious?” (but this should not be the first question).

Ask “Do you know anyone here?” (If not, invite them to sit with you.  If they’ve already settled in, sit on the same row.)

Someone needs to purposefully sit near the visitor.  In almost every church I’ve ever visited I’m sitting in a pew all by myself!  Members must get out of their comfort zone of sitting in the same place every week.  At my last church the preacher’s wife and children always sat in a different section of the church each week.  That is impressive! 


Do any groups meet on your church grounds?  Preschool, AWANA, AA, OA, Classical Conversations, other homeschool groups?  People in these groups are wondering why you don’t invite them to church!

When my son was 4 our home church ended and we began a new church search.  He was just getting involved in AWANA and CC.  While he loved AWANA, and the teachers were great with him, they ignored me, even though I was on the premises the entire time, as it was too far to go back home. 

I volunteered to help for the first year – I would hold the little girl who cried for the first 45 minutes every week on my lap until playtime.  I would put together puzzles with the little boy who was nonverbal, and I would iron on patches for the children whose parents wouldn’t do it.  Yet I never felt welcomed by any of the leaders.  They would chat amongst themselves, but I was clearly an outsider. 

So the second year I read in the nursery where I was in sight of the leaders due to the glass wall, yet I was completely ignored by them.  Eventually, some moms began coming for pick-up early and joined me in the nursery where we had wonderful discussions about the decision to stay home and/or homeschooling, and how God provides.

We attended every event there for several years, but we were never welcomed with “it’s good to see you again” or “would you like to join us on Sunday?” or “where do you attend church?” by any adult except one (right before we stopped attending one man told me I was diligent and thanked me for being reliable and bringing neighborhood children), and one homeschooled high-school girl who welcomed me one evening.  We tried attending church there twice, but again, were almost completely ignored. There were a few smiles and nods, but no one ever spoke to us.

Around the same time we started Classical Conversations at a different church.  At the end of the 24 weeks, during our end of year ceremony, a church elder took the time to come to our group, introduced the church, told us how glad he was we were there, and invited anyone without a home church to attend on Sunday.  We took him up on his offer and found our new church home for the next five years.

Unfortunately that elder died shortly thereafter, and oddly, for the next five years that we attended CC, no other elder stepped up to welcome the group.  I’m thinking maybe it was because, since the preacher and his wife and the children were so well known in the group, as they also attended, they thought this was invitation enough.  But I’m thankful that the elder stepped up that first year, even though I never got to know him (because he died).

It’s the same with preschools on campus.  One church I attended 25 years ago absolutely refused to promote their church to the parents whose children attended the preschool!  They prided themselves on their preschool being ecumenical and not pressuring parents to attend the church.  They would hold a “tea” at the end of the year for the parents – but they never invited them to come to church!  I found that bizarre and a HUGE MISSED OPPORTUNITY for this small church.  I’m sure many of those parents would have come if invited!

I’ve often heard the same thing about hosting AA and OA groups.  “We keep them separate.”  WHY?  They need Jesus Christ, not a vague “higher power!”

At the very least, keep bulletins available, and put up a “welcome AA members – we’d love to have you join us on Sundays” sign!

Without a specific, expressed invitation to attend church – people think that you just don’t care! 

And preachers, when the person discovers you are a preacher and didn’t extend an invitation, they wonder why they weren’t “good enough” to be invited to your church – why don’t you want them there?  They see it as your JOB to INVITE people! (It should be every Christian's job, but let's face it, most people are too shy to do so.)

It’s such a simple thing that Christians miss it.  Me, too!  I’ve missed doing it!  It wasn’t until I heard people doing it that I realized it was a great thing to do.  We need to model this for other people!  It’s okay to invite.  It’s not asking, “WOULD YOU come to church with me?” and putting them on the spot.  It’s INVITING people, “We’d love to have you worship with us one Sunday when you are able.  Call me if you need a ride (want more information, etc.).”

5) The State of Your Church Building Speaks Volumes

Is the main entrance clearly marked for visitors?  If Sunday School starts first, how will visitors know where to go?  I have attended too many churches where I walk in and there is no one about…they are in classes but I have no idea where to go.  Signage is important.  And in this day and age, someone “guarding” the doors is equally important.

Mow the lawn.

When my son was 10 we drove to a church building on a Saturday to see if the drive was doable on Sundays.  We drove up to a pretty building, though in need of paint in some places.  But the lawn needing mowing, and the swing set was dilapidated with missing swings.  Worst of all, on the side of the building was the church’s junk yard. 

My child looked at me and said, “Please don’t make me go here.”  What a far cry from our last, beautifully kept church.  This seemed like a wonderful church online, but how many people were turned off, like us, by the outside?  It sent the message, “We don’t really care about our church property and how we look to the surrounding neighborhood.” 

That church should have been a shining beacon to the neighborhood!  Instead, it looked even worse than the poverty-stricken homes that surrounded it.

Listen to the last sentence in this history book, America’s Providential History: “How we take care of our external property reflects how we take care of our internal property.  If our house is constantly in a disheveled state, we can be assured that our thoughts are just as disorderly.” 

What a way to end a book!  But isn’t it true?  We make a first impression in SIX SECONDS.

Look around your church building with fresh eyes.  What needs to be taken care of?

I am hearing A LOT of complaints from people that they are sick and tired of “dark” churches with walls, floors, and chairs with varying shades of ecru or gray.  BORING! 

People that don’t attend church say they do not want a concert experience on a Sunday morning, but a building that is light, airy, has nature through big windows, is painted white, and makes them feel joyful and expectant when they enter. 

If your church doesn’t have that architecturally, then it is your job to:

  • paint the walls white to reflect light,
  • put in a few small skylights if at all possible,
  • hang colorful banners,
  • put up children’s artwork if possible,
  • use faux candles on timers throughout,
  • add some greenery and flowers (realistic fakes are okay as long as you don’t let them get dusty),
  • have a roomba to vacuum mid-week,
  • pull up bad carpeting,
  • make the bathrooms bright and beautiful,
  • put shelves or hooks in the bathroom for women’s purses when they wash their hands,
  • have a full-length mirror,
  • use quality t.p. (not thin brands),
  • use lovely soap dispensers
  • Anything to make the building “home-like.”

People are looking for home. They want to feel welcomed by you, and embraced by their surroundings.

“The church looked pleasant and very bright inside.  There was a warmth of spirit in the very atmosphere that made Constance think of her aunt Susan’s home.  That was it, it was homelike! … the moment Constance entered, she felt a pleasant sense of cheer and hopefulness.”  (The White Lady by Grace Hill)

6) FaceBook, YouTube and Websites Need to be Cleaned Up

I can’t stress this enough.  If these are not up to date, you appear to be an uncaring, or even “dead” church.  It doesn’t need to be fancy!  But:

  • the address needs to be on the landing page, including your STATE (as lots of churches have similar names),
  • the time you meet,
  • a picture of your church building,
  • and directions need to be accurate.  

The person looking needs to feel confident that the information is current.  If your last post was in 2019 the online visitor will not be confident that the information listed is still correct. 

  • Get your teen group involved by asking them to evaluate and update your online presence!  If necessary, pay a teen to find all your stray mentions and pages across the internet and bring everything up to date. 
  • Mentioning the plandemic shutdown and saying “we are back to meeting in person” is akin to having a “Y2K” scare page from 1999.  Churches with this on their page look foolish and fear-based.  Get with the times.  If your church is living in fear why would any new person want to attend it? 
  • At a minimum, have your core beliefs – and a page dedicated to what the gospel means! (The Most Important Decision of Your Life Needs to be Made TODAY.)
  • If you have links, keep them updated. 

One pastor has his initials on fire as the opening “symbol” of his YT videos, etc.  I’m sure his thought was “on fire for Christ” but it really doesn’t come across that way.  It actually looks bizarre and demonic. 

Another website shows pictures of the coastline, harbor, port, etc – but the church is 30 minutes away from that area!  Why show that? 

Show your neighborhood!  Show where to park!  Show off your building!  Take a group picture!  Show events!  People want a feel of where they will be visiting.  They want to know if they will fit in.

7) In Addition…

Preachers, you need to end on time.  Many people need to catch buses or other rides, or have people waiting for them elsewhere for lunch, or need to go home to care for someone.  When you go beyond the time they expect, this causes chaos in their lives, and for some, an irate spouse.

If a lunch is offered, this helps out many people.  It will also often soothe a spouse who doesn’t attend church and doesn’t like their spouse attending (but doesn’t forbid it), if the attending spouse brings home a tidbit and says, “The (hostess, preacher, elder, friend) insisted upon providing you with this goodie bag of sandwiches (or cookies.)”  Kindness goes so far!  The person sitting at home doesn’t feel left out.

Parents, if you have elementary aged children, see if there is an elderly person they especially like, and then cultivate that relationship: 

  • Lunch out or even inviting the person over for lunch during the week,
  • cards on Valentine’s Day (especially for widows or widowers),
  • and letting your child occasionally sit with this person during the service is good for them and for your child.  Your child will actually see the service differently when sitting with another person.  They will even pay better attention, and usually sing their heart out, which blesses everyone around them!
  • You don’t need to have a children’s sermon if this isn’t your tradition, but do try having the children come up to sing a good old-fashioned Sunday School song.  This helps to develop leaders, and singing along with little children who put their whole soul into the words blesses the congregation. 
  • Then, have the most enthusiastic little boys participate more with Bible reading. 
  • If you have a bell to ring in between classes, find a child to do the honors.
  • This morning at a new church I attended, the 4 yo boys walked the aisles with a basket collecting the Dixie cups that held the communion wafers and grape juice.  I was so impressed, and the children put a smile on everyone's face!
  • Once a month, or at least once a quarter, play games after church or on a Sunday evening.   
  • Try having “Second-Sunday Sings” or “Fifth Sunday Sings” in the afternoon or evening, at church or at someone’s home.  Just make sure the songs aren’t sung too high for men to participate in.  I know someone who has hosted a second-Sunday sing in her home every month for the past twenty years!  What a blessing this family is!

May God bless you as you are His mouth and hands and feet!


(PS: If you are visiting a church, STAY SEATED afterwards and give people time to approach you! I know it is awkward but you must stay in order to be welcomed; don't run off like a scared rabbit.)

Questions to ask, just to start a conversation are:
  • How long has the church met here?
  • How long have you attended here?
  • Can you recommend a restaurant nearby?
  • Are there any women's groups / men's groups / special groups?


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