by Rich Birch: What is the process by which guests transition from unfamiliarity with your church to becoming raving fans? How do they move through those phases, and how are we helping them at every step along the way?
Understanding how guests transition along the spectrum from stranger to advocate for the church is important for us as we build our programs and processes.
I’m a firm believer that churches need to think in steps, not programs. We need to think about how we’re moving people from where they are to where we want them to be, and if everything we do doesn’t help them make one step closer on that path, we need to reevaluate what’s working and what’s not.
In this post, I’ve attempted to outline what I think are the eight phases that every guest who comes to our church needs to move through, in order to transition from complete anonymity to deep community.
Awareness of your church
Frankly, I think most of our churches stumble on this very first phase. The reality is that most people in our neighborhoods don’t know we exist. Don’t believe me? Go to the gas station down the road, pretend you’re from out of town, and ask them a simple question. Say, “Hey, what do you know about that church down the road? We’re thinking about going there this weekend. What do you know about them?” I think you might be shocked at what people say. (I know I was at first—I’ve been performing this exercise over the years I’ve spent visiting churches.) There have been instances where I have been directly across the street from a church and when I asked that question, the people at the gas station either didn’t know the church existed or knew it was there but had no idea what actually went on inside.
Potential guests need to know that your church exists. This should be pretty obvious, but my personal research has proven otherwise! How are you building awareness of your church in your community? What are you doing to get your people out of their seats and into the streets so that folks in your town know that your church exists? If people are unaware of your church, they can’t ever take a step inside the door…