5 Ways to Welcome 1st Time Families that Get them Coming Back

Every church wants to be welcoming to 1st time families, but it can be frustrating when families come once, never to return.

Here are 5 simple and practical ways to give your church the best chance at creating an experience families will want to come back to.

Create an expectant environment

Is your kids’ environment clean and tidy?

Is it obvious you’ve put effort into making it nice?

Do you have an area specifically designated for 1st time families?

Is your check-in process as easy and simple as possible? Does it look safe?

All of these are questions are vital, answering them honestly and working to fill any holes will go a long way.

Families know if you’re expecting them…or not.

Make it about them

No family wants to come into church and feel like they’re invisible or not valued.

It’s super important that 1st time families are greeted by friendly volunteers who engage them in meaningful conversations.

Treat them like the VIPs they are.

Focus more manpower on the front end, so you have the people to really focus on new families, while not neglecting regular attenders.

Create a process for 1st time families that makes them feel special

When a new family walks in what do you do?

At our church, we give families a small gift (A BOGO coupon compliments of our local Chick-fil-a), we tell parent that if they want to share their child’s favorite snack, we’ll having it waiting for them next week when they come back, and we ask parents if they’d like to receive a once weekly email and text with helpful parenting tips.

Then a volunteer personally takes the parents upstairs to the auditorium.


Add value to families but don’t spam them.

We send 1 email and 1 text to parents, as well as 1 card to the kids.

We make sure the email and text are value adding.

The email reviews Sunday’s main idea and has a 4-day family devo with questions for parents to ask their kids to continue the conversation we started on Sunday (here’s an example).

The card is simply a hand-written note saying, Thanks for coming.

Make it fun

I know this is probably worn out, but if kids have fun, they’ll drag their parents back.

We start with a couple high energy songs.

Then we do a game to intro the lesson.

We always include kids and at least 2 senses in the story.

In small groups, we play another game that goes with the lesson.

It’s still a work in progress, but it’s been cool to hear kids say things like: “We have to come back next week,” or “Why do I have to go already?”

And when parents hear that, you can be pretty sure they’re gonna be coming back.

These 5 things aren’t foolproof.

Just like any other church it’s a work in progress, and we’ve had our share of first time visitors never return.

But by focusing on these thing, we have seen a noticeable rise in the percentage of first-timers who return.

We’re always looking to get better, what are some things you’ve done that have been really effective at bringing first time families back?

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