How well does your church retain first-time guests?

How effective are you when it comes to connecting new people into the life of the church?

Do you get them through the front door only to see them leave out the back door?

These are important church growth questions.

If people visit your service but never get connected, your church will struggle to grow.

That’s why every church needs to know their guest connection rate. It’s one simple number that lets you know how well you’re reaching and keeping new people. Very few churches know this number.

To figure out your guest connection rate, you need to know two things:

  1. The number of first-time guests that visit during a specific period.
  2. The number of those people who are connected six months later.

Let’s dive in a little deeper…


“Your guest connection rate lets you know how well you’re reaching and keeping new people.” Church Fuel, Twitter


How to Track First Time Guests

If you want to know how many first time guests are connected, you first need to get a grip on how many first time guests are visiting. Here are three places you can get information from first time guests so you can know who is there.

  • Kids Check In – when parents check in kids for the first time, this is a great place to get relevant information.
  • A Connection Card – a connection card, properly explained, is the best way to get relevant information from guests. You might even offer a gift for guests who complete the card.
  • A Welcome Center – your church should have a clear and visible area for new people to get information.

For the purpose of calculating your retention rate, choose a period of time and count all first time guests during that period. For example, you could choose the month of January or the first three months of the year. Take a look at how many first time guests visited your church during that period and write down the number.


How to Know Who is Connected


Once you know how many guests visited your church during a certain period, now it’s time to fast-forward and see who is connected.

Now this raises an important issue.

You have to define “connected.”  It’s hard to know how many people are connected if the term “connected” has different meanings for every leader. That’s why you should discuss with your team and just decide.


“It’s hard to know how many people are connected if you don't haven't defined the term “connected” – Church Fuel, Twitter


When I was pastoring Oak Leaf Church, we had this discussion and decided that of all the things we wanted people to do, the top three things were:

  1. Get in a small group.
  2. Serve on a volunteer team.
  3. Financially support the church.

Yes, there are more things, but those were the big three for us. And we decided that a connected person was someone that was doing two of the three.

You don’t have to define connected that way, but it’s important you define the word. Once you do, you can figure out how many people are truly connected to your church.

Now it’s time to do the math.

Now you know how many guests you had in a certain time period and you can look at that group of people and see how many are connected. Divide the second number by the first number and that’s your guest connection rate.

So if you had 10 first time guests during the month of January, and 2 of those people were connected in July, your guest connection rate is 20%.

Very few churches know this number, but it’s one of the most important metrics in your church.  

You don’t have to measure this every week, but this is a great exercise to do twice a year.  It takes a little number crunching and some figuring out with the team, but the number is really important.

The guest connection rate is an important measuring tool when it comes to your follow-up processes. And creating a healthy follow-up process is just one of the seven key systems every church should have to break growth barriers.   

So What's Next?

Feel like your church should be growing, but it's not?

Ultimately, church growth is up to God. Are we being good stewards of what He's given us? Are we doing everything we can to ensure our church is healthy? How do we overcome the barriers we feel are in front of us?

We know you care deeply about leading a healthy growing church because it means leading more people to Jesus. So we created a free guide to breaking barriers that will bring clarity and help begin to alleviate your frustrations.

Get your FREE copy of the Senior Pastor's Guide to Breaking Barriers today.