Amarillo church embraces simpler approach to visitors, sees new growth

by Bonnie Shaw on July 18, 2022 in News

When guests visit Coulter Road Baptist Church, 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, guests are contacted by Pastor Michael Dickey, who thanks them for attending and asks if they have any questions. From the moment visitors walk into the church, they have a clear path to get involved and join the church.

This was not always the case though, Pastor Michael Dickey explained. In fact, Coulter Road Baptist Church has spent the last months intentionally simplifying and modifying their strategy for church visitors. This was done in part through a partnership with Jonathan Smith, Texas Baptists Director of Church Health Strategy, who meets with churches across Texas to help 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 their 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 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,” Dickey said.

Since introducing their new, streamlined visitor system, they have had ten new family units join their congregation.

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 Baptist Church’s commitment to sharing the gospel with the people who walk through their doors. The church has had 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 Texas Baptists 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.

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