Wednesday, April 16, 2014

4 Do's and Don'ts for Engaging New Guests


Practical, relevant tips for connecting with first-time guests in your church.. Image Info:
Practical, relevant tips for connecting with first-time guests in your church.


In what I do, if I don’t know how to communicate with people I don’t already know, I won’t be very successful.
I have an occasion to speak to strangers frequently. Thankfully, our church attracts dozens of new visitors each week, I’m invited to speak other places often, and I encounter new people daily through this blog. I’m learning (it’s a continual process) that there are some specific ways I should and shouldn’t speak publicly to someone who doesn’t know me well. Most of these are true to any audience, but especially for an audience of visitors or strangers.
Here are 4 do’s and 4 dont’s when talking to people you’ve never met.


Don’t take them somewhere before they are ready to go - Let your audience warm up to you before you hit them with truths they may not even believe. You want to speak truth, but you want to earn the trust so they will actually listen. In a message, it’s important to open with a personal illustration or story that let’s your audience get to know you. On my blog, the “About” page is one of the most popular.
Don’t keep then longer than they want to stay – It’s awkward and sometimes uncomfortable to visit somewhere new or unknown. You’ll make it less awkward if you don’t keep them beyond their comfort level before they get to know you. Longer messages may work once people get to know you, but for visitors and first-timers, short and sweet usually makes them feel more comfortable.
Don’t tell them more than they want to know - Especially in a first encounter, people need the opportunity to get to know you before they really trust what you have to say. Answer their initial questions without telling them everything you know and hope for another encounter. In a message or in a blog, when the point is clear, don’t beat a dead horse. Learn to speak succinctly.
Don’t make them wonder what you’re talking about - Understand that people visiting may not be from your culture or have your background. They may not immediately understand your vocabulary. Use language they can understand, and when there aren’t other words, explain it to them enough so they will understand the terminology you are using. This is true for us when we do “church” things, like baby dedications, baptisms, or take communion. If it’s confusing to them, they are less likely to come back.
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