When guests visit Coulter Road Baptist Church in Amarillo, Texas, they are greeted with clearly marked parking, a diverse welcome team and a clear way to get plugged into the church.
Following their first visit to the church, guests are contacted by Pastor Michael Dickey, who thanks them for attending and asks if they have any questions. From the moment visitors walk in, they have a clear path to get involved and join the church.
This was not always the case though, Pastor Dickey explained.
In fact, Coulter Road Baptist Church has spent recent months intentionally simplifying and modifying their strategy for church visitors.
This was done in part through a partnership with Jonathan Smith, director of church health strategy with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, who meets with churches across Texas to evaluate all aspects of their church and ministry and identify room for growth.
For Coulter Road Baptist Church, one of those growth areas was welcoming visitors.
Smith and the church worked to simplify the initial visitor experience with a focus on creating intentional connections with new guests.
Now, when a visitor arrives, they are asked for their name and phone number. The next day, guests receive a text message from Dickey asking if they have any questions about the church. On guests’ second visit, they are connected with a group of people in similar life stages, and on the third visit, they are plugged into a small group.
Dickey explained that Coulter Road’s strategy changed to focus on what people really need when they arrive at a new church.
“Jonathan taught me something that I think I’d heard before, but it didn’t stick,” he explained. “He said that there are three things that people want: they want to find a friend, they want to find a future and they want to meet staff. And so we’ve really made that a point to do that.”
Since introducing their new streamlined visitor system, they have had 10 new family units join their congregation.
Little things matter
Dickey has been surprised at the things that have drawn in new people.
One couple who had not been to church in a while was driving past the church on a Sunday when they saw the church’s visitor parking signs. Even though they had not been planning on attending church that day, the signs attracted their attention, so they stopped at the church and joined the worship service.
Above all, though, is Coulter Road’s commitment to sharing the gospel with the people who walk through their doors. By late summer the church had reported seven baptisms since January, more than double the number they baptized in 2021.
Dickey encouraged other churches looking to analyze and re-vision their outreach strategies to get in touch with Smith and other members of the BGCT staff.
“I’ve really tried to become an advocate in our churches and say, ‘Hey, reach out. If you have an issue, they have an answer. It’s made a huge difference,” Dickey said.
As the church has honed its strategy for greeting and evangelizing new guests, they are now looking for ways to attract more members of their community.
Dickey explained that they are not looking for members of other churches, but to reach people who have no church home.
This summer, the church threw a Vacation Bible School with 105 kids in attendance.
Even after the week ended, church members have been following up with the families and creating lasting bonds. They are also launching a “mother’s day out” program to get to know local families.
“We are not there just for the people already in the pews. We’re there for those that aren’t here yet,” Dickey said. “It’s all about including those that aren’t here yet and reaching those that are lost.”
To learn more about church health strategy or request a consultation, click here.