While it’s easy to focus on attracting first-time guests, it’s also important to retain visitors and current members. Depending on the size of the church, keeping up with each member can be an overwhelming effort. Thankfully, you can use your church management system for retention efforts.
Many ChMS tools include a workflow feature where you can trigger specific steps to occur based on data entered or actions taken. Below are several examples of how to use a workflow feature to retain church members.
5 effective ways to use your church management system to strengthen retention.
#1 – Create a workflow for VISITOR FOLLOW-UP.
When someone attends a church service for the first time, hopefully, you’re able to collect their contact information so you can follow up. Use your ChMS tool to automate as much of the follow-up process as possible.
Here's an example of a workflow for first-time visitor communication:
- Enter the contact information into the ChMS.
- Add each individual to the workflow for first-time visitors.
- Send a “thank you for visiting” text or email and invite them back.
- For visitors who checked in children, include information about the children’s ministry (leaders, security procedures, curriculum, and more).
Learn even more about ChMS: How The Church Management Software Market Is Changing
#2 – Track GAPS IN ATTENDANCE to build retention.
It’s not uncommon for people to miss a service or small group meeting. However, if an individual misses a few in a row, it’s wise to make a contact.
Whether the individual is away on vacation or out for a medical reason, people appreciate knowing they were missed. Contacting people and discovering why they’ve been absent gives you the opportunity to help them through a difficult time or simply let them know you look forward to seeing them soon.
Use your ChMS to collect attendance and run reports.
- Ask small group leaders and Sunday school teachers to take attendance at each meeting. Most ChMS tools include a check-in feature that makes this process fairly simple. Another method of taking attendance is through children’s check-in. If you know the children checked in on Sunday, at least one parent was at church with them.
- Set up a report or alert within the ChMS that shows who has missed three or more services in a row.
- Create a template text or email to send messages to individuals on this list.
- Follow up with a phone call within a few days for those who didn’t respond to the original message or to those who replied with serious issues or challenges (injury, illness, upset with church leadership, etc.).
#3 – START A CONVERSATION with new believers.
When someone answers an altar call or otherwise makes a decision to follow Christ, we need to help them cultivate their new faith. One way is to walk them through a new believers’ class (or something similar), explain the process and reason for baptism, and encourage them along the way.
Here's a workflow example:
- Send an encouraging message along with an invitation to a new believer’s class.
- Upon class completion, send an invitation to sign up for baptism.
- Invite to additional discipleship classes or small groups.
Build your church community through online channels. Check out The Sizable Benefit of Creating Facebook Groups For Your Church.
#4 – Create a workflow to engage in LIFE-CHANGING MOMENTS to increase retention.
Members of any congregation will experience life-changing moments that they’ll want, and perhaps need, their church family to be involved in. Milestone events such as engagement, marriage, having a baby, and adopting a child are a few examples of these moments. Use the ChMS to house this information and facilitate serving these members during special moments.
ChMS FOR ENGAGEMENT AND RETENTION DURING MILESTONES
For example, here's a workflow for engaged couples:
- Send a congratulations message and invite them to sign up for pre-marital counseling.
- After the nuptials, flag their marital status in the ChMS and enter their wedding date. Use this information to include them on messages about upcoming marriage seminars and to send an anniversary email or card each year.
Here's another sample, this time for new parents:
- Send a message of congratulations when you learn someone has expanded their family, either through birth or adoption, or even foster care. Consider adding the family to a meal train, contact their small group leader to have that person organize meals, or send a gift basket from the church.
- Inform the new parents about the church nursery, how children’s check-in works, etc.
- Invite parents to participate in a baby dedication service with their child.
- If your church hosts parenting classes, has a Mother’s Day Out program, or other parent-focused events, flag this couple so they’ll receive those emails and notifications.
#5 – PROVIDE ACCESS to your ChMS to ministry leaders.
As a church grows, it quickly becomes obvious that relying completely on church staff to record information in the ChMS isn’t sustainable. Part of making disciples is empowering volunteers with the ability to take on additional responsibility and use their talents for ministry.
GIVE LEADERS THE TOOLS TO BETTER MANAGE THEIR MINISTRIES
Give small group and Sunday school leaders access to the ChMS. Provide them with security permissions and the training to do the following:
- See who’s requested to join their small group and contact those individuals via the ChMS email and text messaging system.
- Record attendance at small group meetings.
- Send messages to his/her small group.
- Set up meal trains or other ways of helping small group members from within the ChMS.
Provide volunteer leaders with access to the ChMS so they can handle these tasks:
- Check that all volunteers signed up for the upcoming weekend have confirmed they’ll be there.
- Contact backups in case regular volunteers had to cancel.
- Contact volunteers as needed via the ChMS email/text messaging system.
- Set up meal trains or other ways of helping volunteer team members from within the ChMS.
These are a handful of ways to use your church management system for church retention. You don’t have to implement them all at once to see the benefits. Start with creating 1-2 workflows, refine those processes, then add more as you’re able.
We live in an era of incredible technology. Let’s leverage the tools at our disposal to lead people to Christ and make disciples.