This post continues our series on welcoming guests to your church and ensuring they come back. You can begin the series here if you're just tuning in.
Ok! You've perfected your welcome message. Your team is regularly giving a slam-dunk, hospitable, vulnerable, and (most importantly) "true-to-your-church" welcome each week. That welcome message is directing folks toward one singular call to action (fill out a card, visit us at the back, attend a "get to know us" lunch, etc).
Now, you follow up.
People are fickle. They have minds that wander. They are busy. They are distracted. Not to mention the spiritual implications – if someone is taking a legitimate, intentional step toward knowing Jesus, it is very, very likely that they will experience some inexplicable complications in their way this week and beyond. Our job in the church is to break down the walls and barriers that the enemy throws up and to welcome God's people into His church.
Part of this should include an intentional follow-up plan. Every single guest that was brave enough to let you know they were there should be carefully followed up with, for about six weeks!
At the bottom of this post, I've created a simple six-week follow-up plan. You'll want to tweak it to your needs, but in general, it covers how often, and what type of touch point you can make that will work, without being overbearing.
How We Say It (The Tools We Use)
Don't underestimate the power of a nice coffee mug. Many churches will give out a small gift at the end of the service to visitors, at the welcome desk or something similar. This is good, but imagine the impact you could have if someone from your church hand-delivered that mug/welcome gift to your visitor's door within 48 hours? In most small towns, this is pretty possible.
Don't be a creeper – it's not an invitation to enter the visitor's home and monopolize their time. It really is just a way of saying, "Hey, we noticed you, we took time to bring you this and say 'Welcome'". Not home? Leave it in the mailbox or on the porch with a nice handwritten note. You can even pre-write the note!
Your weekly emails are the easiest way for a visitor to get a peek into the life of your church. It tells them what goes on week to week. What goes on during the week speaks to what your church values. Get guests added to your email list immediately.
You are emailing your congregation once a week, right?
Here's a rule of thumb: If someone gave you their mobile number, they're OK with you texting them. In fact, they'd likely prefer it. So send a text message.
Send the message out on the following Saturday. "Hope to see you tomorrow at Ourtown Brethren Church! Services are at 9 & 10:30, and we'll have plenty of coffee!"
This can be done manually, or by looking at any number of text messaging services available to churches online.
This is powerful stuff! Wait a week or two, and then follow up with a personal call. This is as much for relationship building as it is a reminder to attend church, so choose someone from your congregation or staff that loves relational ministry. Use these phone calls to look for open doors to relationships. Have a couple simple questions to ask, and keep it warm:
Have you had any questions about the church now that it's been a few weeks?
Can I get you connected to anything or anyone in the church? (Small groups, MOPS group, the youth group for your teens, etc.)
Are you meeting folks…did you want to grab coffee sometime?
Finally, if they don't answer (and if it's a cell phone, they likely won't), leave a simple, warm message on their voicemail:
"Hey Jen, it's Brandy from Ourtown Brethren Church. You probably didn't recognize my number when I called – totally fine, I always let unknown numbers go to voicemail too! Anyway, I was just calling to follow up and see if you any questions about the church, or if I could help get you connected to anything that's going at Ourtown. Please, feel free to call me back or text me anytime…"
Physical mail still works. In fact, it works very well. So little of the mail in our boxes nowadays is real, that often a handwritten postcard or thank-you note works very well. Your guests will feel welcome and cared for. Go ahead and splurge a bit on the weight of the postcard or note. Those few extra pennies pay dividends. Folks will notice that this note isn't just a stock, run-of-the-mill mass-mailer.