Increasing Visitor Retention

Would you like to know one simple trick that could dramatically increase your church’s rate of visitor retention? No, this is not one of those commercials! Rather, I would just like to share with you the startling results of some research done on visitor retention.

In his book Planting Missional Churches, Ed Stetzer references research done that suggests that the initial contact of a church following up on visitors should be done by a layperson. “One study revealed that ”clergy’ follow-up reduced the effectiveness by one-half (compared to laypersons doing the same)” (195).

This study showed that a 15-minute follow-up visit by laypersons yielded the following results: within 24 hours – 85% return rate, within 72 hours – 60% return rate, 7 days – 15% return rate. When the pastor conducted this visit, these results were halved (Stetzer 195).

The simple conclusion seems to be that churches should take whatever steps necessary in order to insure that a layperson makes the initial follow-up contact … within 24 hours of when the visitor came to church. Obviously, the pastor should also attempt a follow-up contact, but the results appear to pay off when laypeople take the lead.

Questions to consider (we would love to hear your comments):

  • Why is it so important that laypeople take the lead?  What does this say to the visitor?
  • Who currently makes the initial follow-up call at your church – pastor or layperson?
  • What should be done (i.e. administratively, etc.) in your church to enable laypeople to take the first step of visitor follow-up?

Works Cited:

Stetzer, Ed. Planting Missional Churches. Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 2006.

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