Community Discussion: Guest Surveys

How does your church treat visitors? It’s an important part of church administration, and it raises some difficult questions. It can be disappointing when guests only visit your church one time, never to return. As leaders, of course we want to know why these people didn’t come back, but we have to be careful. Featured below is a thought-provoking discussion about this issue.

The Discussion:

Kim Craig Ali posed this question to our Facebook group:

“I’m looking for a short survey for newcomers that don’t come back. Does anything like that exist? Is it even a good way to get honest feedback?”

This post generated some helpful comments from other church communicators in our Facebook group. Here are some of them:

“I found it best to reach out personally and say/ask, ‘Hey, I really appreciate you visiting our church, and realize we may not be the church for everyone. I’d love to know what you’re looking for in a church and recommend one that is a better fit for you at this time. Would you mind sharing with me?’, etc.  Always had appreciative and helpful responses.” – Chris Gensheer

“I haven’t done this, but I have done a significant amount of research outside of religious circles. I would be very careful identifying people as those who ‘didn’t come back’ in something you are sending them. That unintentionally makes it sound like they can’t come back because you have ‘written them off’ as non-returners. Plus, it will likely prime them to think a certain way. Instead, I would consider sending people who stopped coming to the same exact feedback survey you would send anyone else, and then you can take the data and compare it internally (i.e., separate it into groups of people who did return vs. didn’t, etc.)” – Matt Thomas

“As someone who visited multiple churches trying to find a home over the last two years, I’d ignore a survey like this. People want to feel known, not like data points. Have a pastor or minister call them.” – Wes Gay


Surveys can be a good thing. They can provide insight into guests’ experiences and needs. The goal of these surveys should be to gain information that can make us more effective at pointing people to Christ. We don’t want anyone to feel judged because they only visited our church once. Instead, we want to make sure they have the opportunity to hear the Gospel and get plugged into a church body even if it isn’t the one we are a part of. In conclusion, use surveys to grow as a leader by learning about and meeting people’s needs!

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