Getting more people to your church is a great accomplishment. It’s not about adding numbers to the weekly attendance; it’s about seeing their lives change as they choose to follow Christ and become life-long disciples. To see those changes, however, we need to make sure guests feel welcomed and know we want them to return. That doesn’t happen automatically; it requires a bit of planning and effort to make it happen.
If you don’t already have a guest follow-up plan, or if what you’re currently doing isn’t quite working, here are five simple steps to get started:
#1 – Create a plan for collecting guest contact information
To follow-up with guests, you’ll need their contact information. However, don’t ask for too much information (fewer questions increases the likelihood they’ll provide the information). Useful data points include name and email address. Once you have these two pieces of information, you can always ask for more later (such as mailing address).
Next, decide how to collect that information. The standard card that guests can fill out and put in the offering plate works well. However, this requires you to be able to read their handwriting and have people available to enter the information into your church management system. Another option is the online form. Some ChMS tools provide this feature or you can use a text service to have guests text a designated number to fill out an online connect card.
#2 – Decide how to follow-up with guests
If you’ve decided to only ask for name and email addresses, then your follow-up option is fairly straightforward – you’re going to send them an email. However, you could ask for more details if you think a postcard, phone call, or text message would be more effective for your visitors.
hatever communication method you choose, outline the process for guest follow-up. This may include sending an email on the Monday after the service the guest attended, then sending a reminder email the next Saturday to mention Sunday services.
#3 – Create a follow-up message
Whether you’re sending emails, text messages, or a postcard, you need to decide what to include in that message. Here are a few ideas:
- Thank them for coming and let them know you’d love to have them come back next Sunday
- Mention the upcoming (or in-progress) sermon series
- Provide a link to information about your church’s small groups, upcoming events, or ministry program (don’t overwhelm them with information in the message, but make sure they know where to find it)
#4 – Streamline the process
Find out if your church management software (ChMS) includes workflow automation features. If so, take full advantage of this functionality.
If guests provide their contact information via an online form, you import it (if it doesn’t directly go into) your ChMS. Tag those new entries as first-time guests and create a workflow that puts individuals with that tag into the workflow. Next, draft an email template you’ll use each week. The workflow should include assigning someone the task of updating the draft email with current information (sermon series, etc.), then scheduling the email to go out on a set day that week.
If you need people to enter guest information from paper forms or want to send out postcards, build a volunteer team to handle those tasks.
#5 – Put it in action and monitor results
ce you’ve put the new follow-up process into action, monitor the results.
Email services such as MailChimp provide reports on how many people opened an email or clicked on links within the email. Check the open rates to see if guests are viewing your follow-up emails.
When people ask to be baptized, join a small group, or sign up to volunteer, see if they received emails from your new follow-up process. If so, consider asking them if those emails or postcards influenced their decision to come back to the church.
Following up with guests can make a huge difference. Once you have new people in the door, make sure they know you care and want them to return by putting a well thought out process into place.