If you don’t follow-up on your first-time visitors within a few hours of their visit, you shouldn’t be surprised if your church isn’t growing.
Every single study shows that follow-up is critical, and yet I still hear pastors handing out their … pardon me … lame excuses for why they don’t do it.
- If your pastor is too busy to do follow-up … they’re too busy to be an effective pastor.
- If your pastor doesn’t want to waste time by visiting people who might not be interested in the church … they’re spending too much time in their office.
- If your pastor is afraid the visitors will think the church is stalking them … they don’t understand how desperate people are to build authentic relationships.
- If your pastor can’t get the contact information for the visitors … then the rest of this post is for them.
I’ve touched on some of this before (see this archive post), but here’s the scoop:
You can get virtually every first-timer’s contact information if you’ll just do the following:
Use the Right Tools
Stop using pew pads, guest books, friendship folders, etc. to get the information. There are a couple reasons why they don’t work, but let me just be blunt: They Don’t Work. So stop depending on something that worked in 1955 to get visitors’ names today. Instead, use a Connections Card (NOT a Visitors Card) that’s an insert in your bulletin or a separate hand-out. Be sure to ask for the obvious, but don’t leave out things like email, text number (mobile), etc.
Teach your greeters, hosts, ushers, and pretty much everyone in the congregation how to have conversations that gets contact information. Inviting someone to a church event and offering to pick them up, or send a reminder email, or a reminder text is great. Just be sure the info gets to the church office.
Offer a Worthy Bribe
But not just any bribe … offer an altruistic bribe to get the information. Most of us have tried to get first-time visitors to swap their contact information for a mug or a gift bag with a few chocolates and a fistful of church brochures. However, my wife and I attended a church recently and was blown away by the way they were soliciting (and getting) contact information. Rock City in Columbus, Ohio gets the full credit for this great idea. This church did their contact card solicitation late in the service, right after the sermon with the offering. You can see an example of what they do by watching the video below.
In a nutshell, here’s their pitch: “If you’re a first-time visitor, we’d like you to fill out the Connection Card completely. And for every visitor’s card that is completely filled out, we’ll make a $5 donation to the local food bank.”
We visited about halfway through the year and at that point they’d given over $8500 to the local food bank via their visitor cards … that means they’d received over 1700 completed visitor’s cards since January.
You tell me …
There are challenges in getting first-time visitors contact information because the way the ushers or any church leaders approach the visitor will leave either a bad or good impression. Thankful for this article because it reminds me the basic way to engage a first time visitor; and that is to have a conversations that gets the contact information.
I love the idea of offering to contribute $5 to the food bank! We house a food closet, which used to be a mission of the church but is now its own non-profit, so it would say something about who we are, as well as being a motivator. I’m guessing there are ready-made “connection cards” out there somewhere–can you point me in the right direction?
Hi Nicole, Google does a pretty good job of providing lots and lots of templates, most of them free.