8 Effective Ways to Follow Up With Guests at Your Church
You spend a lot of energy attempting to get people to attend your church. You craft great experiences with fantastic music and engaging teaching. You advertise your church through a number of ways so people in your community know you exist. You’ve trained your volunteer teams to do a great job to serve guests as they arrive. But what do you do when guests actually arrive to follow up with them after they visit? Here are some simple ways to start following with your guests … I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!
- Acknowledge Their Presence // Make sure to take time during the service to publicly acknowledge that there are guests in the service! Pointing out to your guests that you know that they are with you in the start of effective follow up.
- Invite to Action // Beyond just acknowledging that guests are with you make sure you have a clear “call to action” during the service for people new to your church. Have something specific that you ask them to do … that doesn’t embarrass them! For us we ask them to fill out a “New Here” card that’s in our program and drop it off at the “New Here Kiosk” in the foyer where they can get a free t-shirt. Do this call to action during every service … don’t miss it.
- Free Gift // Give your guests a free gift as a thank you for coming to visit your church. Choose your gift wisely … pick something that your guests would actually like. For us we switched from a “chocolate bar and some flyers” to a t-shirt and saw a 400% increase in the number of guests willing to self identify themselves.
- Postcards Ready to Go! // Have some postcards with stamps already to send to new people. If a new kid checks into your program … have a small group leader write out a quick note on that postcard, get the address off the “new here” information card and then drop it in the mail on the way home. Have your guest services people working the “New Here” area write notes to the people they talked with … and then drop them in the mail right away!
- Delayed Emails // After you enter the data from the “New Here” information card into your database set up an email (or two) to send out to your guests to invite them to come back. You can do this with systems like Boomerang for Gmail, Constant Contact or Mail Chimp. The goal of these emails is to welcome them to your church, invite them to come back the next weekend and get to know your church a little more.
- Engage Your Regulars // Make sure that you design your follow up system so there are flags for your regular people to engage in the process. One of the ways we do that is that we package the t-shirts we give away in white bags … so they stick out in the crowd after we give them to guests. We then train our “insiders” to be on the look out for those white bags … and ask them to get to know these first time guests!
- Regular “New Here” Reception // Host a regular (monthly … bi-weekly?) reception for your guests. This gives you something to be talking to them about in all of your other communications and provides a great next step for guests. The Harvest Bible Church Planting movement encourages their plants to host regular “Party with the Pastor” events to help connect with new comers … Northpoint’s NEXT environment would be another choice to look at if you are looking for examples of what to do at these events.
- Snail Mail Them // We’ve been experimenting with a quarterly “recall” mailing to all of our first time guests. This piece arrives at the beginning of a season and tells our guests about what the expect in a bunch of different areas of our church. The big idea is that helps to remind our guests that we’re still here and that we’d love to have them join us.
Creating clear and deliberate next steps for your guests is important. When people are first checking out your church for the first time it needs to be obvious what they are suppose to do next. Make sure to design whatever you do with your guests in mind … what do they need when they first arrive with your church?
Bonus Idea: We stopped using the language of “First Time Guest” at our church and switched to “New Here”. This was a simple switch but it helped us reach more of who wanted to reach. People are unlikely to identify on their first time time with you … but when they come back a second or third time we want to them to be able to “opt-in” to our follow up process.