There are 4 reasons why someone comes to your church – not just the first time, but every time. This person may change their reason over time, but how you communicate with them will help determine why they come back.
First, I’ll outline the 4 reasons, then how to connect with those people based on their reason.
With Compulsion (or conviction) these people come because they believe it’s the right thing to do – not necessarily because they want to, but because of an obligation or guilt if they don’t. This could be coming to Mothers’ Day service to make Mom happy, coming to their niece or nephew’s Christmas concert, or showing up because they’re scheduled for nursery and don’t want to let someone down.
Maybe church is part of their tradition at Easter or Christmas, even though they aren’t really sure (or not interested in) where they stand with God, or they feel obligated to be in church our of guilt to make amends with God.
This is when someone sees a friend who shares a Facebook post, or find your video on youtube or drives by and sees your sign, or gets invited by a friend. Hopefully they have an idea of what to expect from your church, but until they experience it, they’re curious as to what that experience is like. It could be hesitancy, or excitement. They’ve come through the door not entirely sure what to expect.
This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s their first visit – maybe they’re curious about your new series, or new pastor or haven’t been in a while or just moved back to the area and want to know what church is like now. It’s even possible that this person comes every week, and their curious about your bumper video or to find out what songs your worship team will pick.
Unfortunately, once the novelty wears off, so will this person’s curiosity, so you have to move them to another reason to come back.
This person likes to be part of something. They love to see the same faces at the same time, shake hands, invite in new people and build friendships. For these people, serving is a privilege: a chance to be part of the ‘family’, and the chance to get together for coffee or a meal after church. This could also reflect that they like your style of worship or the way people respond to the speaker or a monthly social event your church hosts.
Sometimes a person who is focussed primarily on community will come weeks or months before getting saved or committing their life to Jesus, since it’s possible that’s secondary in their mind to the community. They could eventually stop coming to your church and get involved in a weekly soup kitchen or other community organization or even take a job that requires them to work every weekend where they feel a stronger attachment to community.
This is the bullseye on the target where you point people to. If they’re coming to your church because of their commitment, this is vision and values centered, and starts to become part of who they are. You’ll hear them say “I’m part of XYZ church” rather than “I go to XYZ church.”
Very little (if anything) could dissuade them from being part of your church, serving the assignment God has given you and connecting others to the vision. When a new initiative is released, they figure out how to get behind it.
How to move people toward Commitment
Knowing that commitment is the bullseye, how do we communicate in a way that draws people there?
Generally (and loosely) speaking, if someone starts with Conviction / Compulsion, then the next step is curiosity moving to community, then commitment. Some people skip the “Compulsion” stage and start with Curiosity > Community > Commitment.
Compulsion to Curiosity
Capitalize on the opportunities you know are going to be well-attended by the compulsion people. When your kids sing at the Christmas Concert, invite those visitors back for Christmas Eve. On Christmas Eve, promote your January series. Host a Valentines dinner and send out an email to everyone who has visited your church only once in the past 12 months. On Easter, talk about your Summer events. At your summer event, talk about your back to school service… try and create ways to spark some curiosity.
Curiosity to Community
Talk often about the community you’re creating. This is a shotgun approach helping everyone who came because of any reason to find a way to get connected. As people move through the different reasons, there will always be a need for community, even if it’s not the driving force.
Play on people’s curiosity to attract new people to your church – don’t try and attract them using compulsion. Get them through the door based on their curiosity, then talk about your community as a way for them to come back.
If you haven’t already, read here about how Buckhead Church in Atlanta creates a “Come back” experience. They’ve found ways to get people connected and building a community from the moment people come into their property.
Community to Commitment
First, let me remind you that even though you’re moving this person to come back because of commitment, never give up on piquing their curiosity or talking about community.
Move people from coming for community to coming because of commitment by modelling it for them – give them hope, give them a family to be part of, give them a goal and a vision and help them find their place there.
Show videos of families who are in the commitment realm and talk about that journey. Model commitment in those who are put in leadership and help leaders who slip into compulsion to restore their excitement for the vision.
Thank your committed people often, and let those in the compulsion, curiosity or community category see the fulfilment of bringing people to know Jesus by living out your church’s values and vision.
I would love to hear how you’ve seen these steps working for you. What are some of the ways you’ve found to move people toward commitment? Leave a comment below!