Creating an inviting and warm experience for first-time guests before, during, and after worship services and events is important. A primary goal for church staff and volunteers should be to help guests feel loved and welcomed throughout the week as well. So how does your church make certain that guests stay connected after their visit?
Two common mistakes that are often made with guest follow-up are: 1) following up for one week after a visit and 2) only using one or two forms of communication to follow up with guests.
Think about the people in your life, whether it is a spouse, parent, sibling, friend or a child. Each one of them prefers a different communication method or tool, be it social media, text, phone or email. And yes, some people still really like to receive a physical letter or postcard in the mail–since it has become so rare a practice.
Why would a church only send a single letter in the mail or email one newsletter or make just one follow-up phone call to a guest? Instead, be the church that uses proven follow-up strategies so no guest slips through the cracks.
The best part about using multiple lines of communication is that they open the door for personal interaction. Technology enhances outreach and tech tools provide MORE opportunities for two-way communication. By using a combination of texts, emails, phone calls, handwritten notes, and gifts your church is giving guests multiple ways to receive your message of welcome. This isn't all done in the first week, of course, and that's the trick.
Effective guest follow-up takes more than a few messages. This thoughtful method is proven to be successful when done over a six-week timeframe.
Here are five simple tools and a formulated process to follow-up with church guests:
#1 – Send a Text
Text messaging is the most direct method of communication in our modern world. It is personal as well as efficient. If a guest shares a phone number on their guest card, send them a follow-up text one or two times per week for the first six weeks.
Saturday morning texts inviting them to Sunday church services are always welcomed. A midweek text checking in on their week or sharing an update or invitation to another church activity or event is also recommended. Keep the messages simple and to the point. Personalize the message as much as possible too, especially if you interacted with them yourself during their visit.
#2 – Email
Continue to reach out to your guests by sending one or two email messages each week sharing important information about your church or ministries, as well as an invitation to a gathering for newcomers that you host each month.
When guests share their information on guest cards or email list signups, make sure those lists are updated as soon as possible and guest emails are added correctly. Many guests enjoy learning more about the churches they visit and emailing them the most recent edition of the church newsletter is a quick and easy way to do that.
#3 – Mail Handwritten Notes
Sometimes I feel like a kid in a candy store when I get a personal letter sent to my home. All it takes is one letter from a staff member or volunteer from the church to make someone smile. When written message and emails come from multiple church members guests will feel connected and get to know more people at your church. This can help with community building. Handwritten letters are the best and make guests feel like an individual and not just a number.
#4 – Make a Phone Call
Churches often underestimate the power of a phone call. Chances are that people will not answer a call from an unknown number and that’s okay. When they hear your friendly voicemail message it will reaffirm that you care. Kindness travels. Remember to keep messages brief and friendly. People appreciate that too.
#5 – Send a Gift
Who doesn’t like a free gift? The thoughtfulness of a handy mug or Starbucks gift card goes a long way. Gifts can be mailed or dropped by their home if guests live in the neighborhood. Refrain from inviting yourself in should they be at home when you drop by. Just thank them for visiting and be on your way.
These five tools aren’t exactly groundbreaking, but when used strategically over a six-week timeframe, they can help your guests feel loved and welcomed by your church community. This process also helps your church staff and volunteers get to know these guests better too. It's a win-win.
You can implement all of these tools on your own using our calendar template, or you can leverage Text In Church to automate the process of sending every text message, email, and staff reminder for you, ensuring that few guests will slip through the cracks.