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3 Big Guest Follow-Up Mistakes


Is your church struggling to reach young families?

Unfortunately, most are…

Today we’ll cover the 3 Big Guest Follow Up Mistakes that are preventing your church from reaching young families. If you don't know all three… chances are you're making one of them.

As the co-founder of Text In Church I’ve had the privilege to help thousands of churches with their Guest Follow-up Systems. And through this process we’ve identified 3 Big (HUGE actually) Follow-up Mistakes that are killing your ability to connect with young families.

Here’s how the conversation usually starts…

Me: Describe your current follow-up process with 1st time guests?
Pastor: Uh… well… we send them our weekly eNewsletter (which is sometime bi-weekly).
Me: Is that all?
Pastor: No. No, our office admin also sends out a nice form letter.
Me: And… How’s that working for you?
Pastor: Not so well.

Sound familiar?

Let me outline the 3 Big Guest Follow Up Mistakes most churches are making and offer an easy solution.

Before I do though…

I get it… Pastors are overworked and have responsibilities that soar out of control. The last thing you need is another task added to your to-do-list.

So… let me save you some time.

When done right… effective Guest Follow-up can be completed in less than 45 seconds per guest. It sounds crazy, but it’s not. Churches all across the county are leveraging technology to do it every week.

Big Mistake #1: Inconsistency

Effective guest follow-up must be consistent! So, you need a plan (a system actually) in place to ensure that every guest is followed up with each and every week. Even when you are REALLY BUSY.

Here’s why…
I believe 1st time guest come to church because of one of the 4-Ds. The 4-D Theory encourages us to consider the WHY. Why is this person here today? It argues that people attend a church for the 1st time (or 1st time in a long time) because of a recent Death, Divorce, Disaster or Displacement.

So, if this is true, or even sometimes true, we as Christians need to reach out and truly connect with these people. They need a friend. And I believe we are called to be that friend. It’s no longer good enough to be a friendly church. We must live into a new radical hospitality that seeks to build true relationships.

When we’re inconsistent with our follow-up… we let them down. Even when we are busy, we must commit to consistently reach out to each and every first time guest.

Big Mistake #2: Irrelevancy

We must stay relevant! When following up with a 1st time guest, we need to communicate in ways that people actually use with their friends. When was the last time you scheduled a lunch with a friend by sending a form letter? N-E-V-E-R! Then why would we use that as our only means of connecting with a guest?

Consider this… if you truly needed to connect with an old friend… how would you do it?

Give them a call? Shoot them a text message? Send them a quick email? Stop by their home and drop of a small gift? Send them a letter in the mail?

Of course you would. You’d use any means necessary to connect. Follow-up is no different. We should stick to the “Golden Rule of Follow-up”. It states, “If it truly matters… use every means possible”.

This, my friend, truly matters.

It also matters when you contact folks. And… we accidentally stumbled upon the perfect time.

Saturday Post

It works for both members and 1st time guests. Saturday morning! It makes perfect sense if you think about. We’re simply joining in on a conversation already occurring as families make their weekend plans.

And… lets clear things up… eNewsletters are NOT guest follow-up. If you are relying on your eNewsletter to connect with 1st time guests, Stop! Guests don’t read your pretty newsletter. Face it… No matter how fancy you make it, our brains have been conditioned to ignore (and delete) beautiful emails.

Big Mistake #3: Insufficiency

Far too often our follow-up is just plain insufficient. We can’t expect that an email or a phone call is going to break a person’s life-long habit of not coming to church. It’s basic human psychology. Habits are formed over time. And… habits are broken over time.

So, our follow-up must be sustained for at least 6 weeks. This means that each weekend for 6 weeks we must reach out to ensure our church is front of mind.

Here’s what we suggest…

Post Schedule

Notice the majority to the messages are schedule toward the weekend. We’ve found emails and text messages are especially effective on Friday and Saturday as families make their weekend plans.

Consider this…
What if this Saturday you sent out a simple message like this…

Text Message Example

Small gestures like this have a HUGE impact.

3 BIG Guest Follow Up Mistakes

By addressing these 3 BIG Guest Follow Up Mistakes you can ensure that your guest follow-up connects with guests in a relevant & consistent manner.

If your church is not growing (or growing at the rate you know it can), then I’d love to connect. You can learn more about Text In Church and the 3 Big Guest Follow Up Mistakes by clicking here.

Tyler Smith
Tyler Smithhttp://www.textinchurch.com/
Tyler Smith is the co-founder of Text In Church, the leader in church communication tools. Text In Church creates communication tools for the modern day ministry, allowing churches to easily & effectively communicate with their members and 1st time guests. He and his wife, Kelly, are raising 2 wonderful children in Kansas City. Go Royals!


  1. Follow up can be time consuming and a lot of work especially if you only have a few people dedicated to the work. I have found that people get burnt out quickly. Do you recommend changing guest follow up staff frequently or do you try to stick to those few?

  2. Curious if you have any data or feedback on using an opt-in type of texting service to deliver texts to guests? We currently text guests through a free app that is delivered from a real phone number. The message is warm and personal, but doesn’t have a name attached. If someone happens to respond, the volunteer does reply, but that scenario is infrequent. We’d like to add some additional texts, but due the the number of guests we have and the amount of volunteer hours required, we’re exploring using a service that we use for other purposes in order to automate the process and extend our series of texts. So what it would look like to the recipient is, they would still receive a personal text, but it would come from a number like 23456. If they replied, we can set it up to receive such messages and could text them back if necessary. Thoughts?

    • Hi there Mark!

      That’s a great question. We shy away from using shortcodes. It’s a personal decision, but I feel they are just too spammy. If you think about it… the only time you ever receive a text message from a 5 digit number is when a box store is trying to sell you something.

      Also, we tested both and found that shortcodes can be confusing to folks. We’ve all been dialing 10-digit numbers our entire life, so it just feels incomplete to dial just 5 digits.

      That said… you may want to test it for yourself.

    • Hi Sheri!

      Glad you enjoyed the article.

      The MUG’EM strategy is pretty simple really. Within 48 hours deliver a mug or other small gift to your first time guests.

      Yes, it’s a big task to take on… but it’s an amazing way to connect.


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