Apple just released its newest gadgets and the world is changing… again. We live in a digital age in which we all carry a tiny device that makes phone calls, sends texts messages, and organizes hundreds of emails each day. We can’t live without it!

The fact is, Christians spend hundreds of hours each year staring at this tiny screen. We use phones to connect and build relationships in ways that were not imaginable 20 years ago. So, shouldn’t the Church jump onboard?

My prediction is that 2016 will NOT be the year the church goes digital.

And… that’s a good thing.

As the co-founder of Text In Church, much of my day is spent helping churches explore and implement relevant technologies in their daily church communications. I’ve had the opportunity to help thousands of churches improve their guest follow-up systems and we’ve learned a lot along the way.

We’ve learned there is NOT one perfect follow-up tool. Email communication is great… for some people. A personal phone call is a great touch for others. Texting works 100% of the time… for some people. You get the point. There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to connecting with our first time guests.

We’ve also learned (or at least confirmed) that personal interaction is a must. Technology is wonderful! However, it will never replace the sound of a friend’s voice or the comfort of a friendly handshake or hug.

5 Tools InfographicTechnology can be an effective way to reach people, but the Church cannot go fully digital at the expense of true relationships. Our God is relational and Christianity cannot be practiced alone. We need each other. And… we’re in this together.

Ok, so how should my church follow-up with first time guests?

Well, we’ve identified five simple tools that are part of every effective guest follow-up system we’ve seen. And, you can use them too. They’re simple and cost effective.

Call emTool #1 – Call ‘em

It’s so simple and so effective. Simply pick up the phone and make a personal phone call. Thank them for checking out your church and invite them back next week. If they don’t answer, leave a message.

We want them to know they were noticed and they matter.

If you’re an overachiever… have someone else make another phone call about 10 days after their 1st visit. An extra touchpoint can go a long ways.

Email emTool #2 – Email ‘em

Send a series of follow-up emails. We recommend sending a personal email each week for the first 6 weeks. You can leverage a tool to schedule and send these at the perfect time each week.

Also, eNewsletters don’t work–people stopped reading your pretty newsletters years ago. Simple, plain emails get read.

Text emTool #3 – Text ‘em

Send a friendly text message right away. Then, we recommend, following up via text message once per week for the first 3 weeks.

Texting is great! Just don’t overdo it. Hint: a text on Saturday morning is a perfect way to stay front of mind as they make weekend plans.

 

Meg emTool #4 – Mug ‘em

Deliver a coffee mug (with your logo) within 72 hours. Yes, it’s a lot of work! BUT… it’s worth it. Guests appreciate the gesture and reciprocate by returning on Sunday. Plus, every time they pick up that mug for a drink – your logo is staring them in the face. It’s a great reminder. Now, if mugs aren’t your cup of coffee (pun intended), no worries, any small gift will do.

 

Mail emTool #5 – Mail ‘em

Drop a postcard or, better yet, a handwritten note in the mail on Monday morning. It’s a small gesture with BIG IMPACT. It shows you truly care about them. Plus, receiving something in the mail is refreshing!

If you begin utilizing all five of these powerful follow-up tools you will undoubtedly retain more guests and reach more people for Christ. This is not groundbreaking news. This is simply caring for God’s children, namely those who visit our church for the first time.

No, the newest gadget has not, nor ever will, replace the power of human interaction. But, we can leverage the technologies that exist today to better connect with our first time guests and the larger faith community.