The Power of Conversations

Charles Arn is the president of Church Growth Inc. and has done extensive research to discover why people come back to a church after visiting. He says that the number one reason people return for a second time is because the church was friendly. Most of us would assume that but Charles Arn probed further.  He then asked these same people how they determined that a church was friendly?

What do you think they said? Their answer was…

because a lot of people talked to me.

In other words these first time guests became second time guests simply because of the conversations they had with our members. Guests’ perception and interpretation of what constitutes a “friendly church” is based on conversations during their visits.

Knowing this information should cause us as leaders to train our members in how to engage someone in a simple conversation. Not just the casual “hi, how are you doing?” But conversations that help us to get to know each other.

We know that assimilation begins the moment a person drives on to your parking lot, not when they join the church. Guests tend to decide within 10 to 12 minutes if they will return. Here are some things we should do:

  • Approach and befriend guests when they arrive early for worship.
  • Talk to guests about their life and interests.
  • Introduce guests to others seated around them or in the welcome center.
  • Remember their name. If they come back next Sunday, chances are they will be looking for people they had met.

Use the HELLO or TOPICS letters to help engage in conversation:

  • H is for Hello – We must be fully present, focused on each person in that moment.
  • E is for Engagement – Slow down, show interest, look people in the eye and focus.
  • L is for Listen – Our two ears and one mouth should give us a hint. Your posture should be relaxed and open.
  • L is for Listen Some More – Restate what you thought you’ve heard.
  • O is for Offering Assistance – Respond to guest’s needs


  • T…..Talk about Today’s activities
  • O…..Occupation & Educational Background
  • P……Place, Partner, Parents
  • I……Interests (hobbies, recreation)
  • C……Current Events (news)
  • S……Share about church or spiritual things

People attend a church not just looking for a friendly church but looking for a friend who will engage them in conversation.

What can your church do to improve conversations with guests?

Keep the Son in Your Eyes,

Mike James

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