So, you still have guests fill out a card…
Don’t worry! You’re not alone and it’s actually still the most reliable way to get information for solid follow-up.
You’ve got your checklist of follow-up materials for first-time guests after your Saturday/Sunday worship service(s).
You’ve purchased postcards (complete with your church logo and a hipster couple in a coffee shop), so someone can send them a handwritten postcard on Monday morning.
You’ve set up a system so that they receive a follow-up email from the lead pastor (automatically), also on Monday morning.
You’ve created a workflow that ensures someone has been asked to make a phone call to them by Thursday.
You’ve set up a sequential email campaign, so that additional follow-up emails go out at 2, 3, and 4 weeks after their first visit.
All that’s great! Except, how do you capture that information from first-time guests so that you can do any of that follow-up?
We’re going to look at a classic method of capturing guest information, the communication card (also known as a connect card, next steps card, or the tear-off flap). You may be thinking, “We tried that, but we couldn’t get guests to fill it out.” Well, that’s what these next steps are all about. You’ll likely never be able to get every single guest to fill out a card, but your chances improve greatly using the suggestions below.
Mention the card multiple times.
“If you insert it, they will fill it out” simply doesn’t apply here. If you want guests filling out the cards, you need to mention them, from the stage, more than once every single Sunday. Will your regulars get tired of hearing about it? Yes. But, frankly, it’s not all about them! I digress, though. At a minimum, make reference to it early in the service, during some kind of welcome; and then refer to it again after the message or before giving time.
Train your “regulars” to all fill out the card.
Notice we didn’t mention “guest card” at all in this post. If you have a special card that is only for guests, you’re doing it wrong. Guests typically want to avoid standing out. Anything they are asked to do that is different from everyone else will likely be ignored. The flip side of that – “If everyone else is doing it, I’d better do it, too, so that I don’t stand out.” So if I don’t see anyone near me filling out a card, I feel awkward if I do so; but if I’m the only one not filling it out, I’ll go ahead and do it so that I’m not “the weird one.” Include in your welcome some reason that everyone in the room should be filling out a card.
Ask for something unique each week.
If the card never changes, my reasons for filling it out are reduced (whether a guest or regular attendee). So, ask for at least one thing different every week. One great example – on the back of the card, suggest some “next steps” that people can commit to, based on the message that day (which very naturally gives you a second time to mention the card, right after the message). Or, change the opportunities to serve each week, highlighting just a couple of areas of greatest need. If I’ve checked a box or written in a blank, I’m more likely to feel I need to do something with it, like turn it in.
Collect during giving.
Conventional wisdom in churches is that guests feel awkward during giving time, especially if baskets (buckets, bags, plates – I was part of a church plant that used planter pots because they were cheap!) are passed through the rows of seats. Asking everyone to put their cards in those baskets is great in 2 ways: (1) It passes by every person, making it much easier to turn in compared to expecting guests to find some special welcome area (believe me – they care less about that great gift you promise than you think); and (2) It gives guests something to put in the bucket, so they don’t feel awkward passing the basket by and not putting anything in (yes, that’s motivation to put a card in the basket).
Get your follow-up team ready! If you’ll implement all four of these suggestions, you might find they’re a little busier than before.
Watch for future posts about recommended follow-up practices, and using language in our services that includes the first-time guest. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you. Email me your process for following up with first-time guests (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Jerod Walker began serving as a pastor at the age of 19 while in Bible college in rural Missouri. Since then he’s served in churches from 35 to 1800, as a children’s pastor, family ministries pastor, and lead pastor. In 2011 he started Legacy Christian Church in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. Jerod currently serves as a ministry coach and resides in Wisconsin with his wife and 6 children.