Four Ways to Get More Info Cards from Guests

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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 (jwalker@elexio.com).

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.

Missional Ministry In Action: Go Beyond 2015

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A few weeks ago, Elexio participated for the second year in Go Beyond, a week-long missional initiative here in Lancaster County, PA.

Harvest Bible Chapel of Lancaster launched Go Beyond in 2014, extending their typical Sunday of local service to a full week in order to maximize their impact.

This year, they invited the surrounding community to join them in showing God’s love in practical ways. Twenty different churches—including several of our local church partners—participated, as well as 36 area businesses.

Elexio sent a couple groups to package meals through Go Beyond’s partnership with Global Aid Network. In just two days, 900 volunteers packed 211,000 meals that will be sent to earthquake-ravaged Nepal and Ebola-stricken Liberia.

But Go Beyond wasn’t just about worldwide efforts; most of the 200 projects that combined for 10,000 hours of service benefitted people right here in our local community. In addition to feeding those in need on other continents, the thousands who participated in Go Beyond also:

  • Distributed meals outside a local rescue mission
  • Organized a clothing drive that serviced 1,000 people
  • Participated in a Red Cross blood drive
  • Provided meals for local servicemen
  • Hosted three family fun days that drew hundreds of kids
  • Completed projects at the homes of needy and disabled neighbors
  • Cleaned the surrounding roads
  • Served several meals at a rescue mission

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And that list doesn’t even begin to cover all the acts of service completed in just seven days.

To conclude the week of Go Beyond, over 3,000 gathered at nearby Clipper Magazine Stadium for a full worship service, where several people gave their lives to Christ.

Elexio was blessed to play a small role in helping  to demonstrate God’s love through Go Beyond 2015, and we’re praying for an even bigger campaign next year!

How is your church following the missional model and serving others?

Check out these resources on missional ministry:

8 Easy Ways to Be Missional

Missional Ministry: How Even a Large Church Can Do it Well

Two Lies that Keep Families from Being Missional

Is Your Church Getting The Most Out Of Trunk Or Treat?

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It’s that time of year when churches invite their members to fill parking lots with cars covered by DIY costumes and pack their trunks with candy corn and peanut butter cups.

Trunk or Treat is about providing a fun, safe activity for kids and families in your community. If done properly, it can be a great outreach initiative.

So you’ve got the kids, cars, and candy ready to go—but how do you make sure this amounts to more than just a night of fun and nauseating amounts of sugar?

Although it’s probably a little late to begin planning or advertising for this year, there are still some things you can do to ensure a successful Trunk or Treat.

Social Media

Hopefully you’ve been promoting your Trunk or Treat event for several weeks now. But even if you’re behind on the marketing, you can still use social media to attract more people—up until the day of your event!

  • If your church has an active social media presence, consider creating an event hashtag. You can use it leading up to Trunk or Treat, during the fun, and after the event as you share details and pictures on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • You can also create buzz by inviting people to a public event on Facebook. It’s not so much about predicting attendance as it is about creating awareness. But it will help you gauge what kind of turnout to expect.
  • Need some more last minute volunteers? Recruit help from your church community by sharing those service opportunities throughout your social channels. Get them involved after the event, too by having them share posts, pictures, and updates with their friends.
  • Before posting pictures online, make sure you have consent from parents—and watch out for license plates. Your social media activity could backfire if you don’t respect people’s privacy.

Event Day Considerations

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the event, but make sure you’re prepared with more than just some sweet treats.

  • On Trunk or Treat night, take advantage of the fact that hundreds of people from your local community are pouring into your parking lot. Advertise another upcoming event for kids and families so they’ll come back for more fun.
  • Make sure you have plenty of volunteers available to not only hand out candy and help with the grunt work of the event, but also to engage with the families and answer any questions from parents.
  • One of the biggest draws of Trunk or Treat is that it’s typically safer than children roaming neighborhoods in the dark. So make sure you take all the necessary precautions to ensure a secure environment for families.

Follow-ups

Don’t miss an opportunity to learn more about the people from your local community so you can follow up with them later.

  • Ask parents and guardians to fill out visitor connection cards or enter their information on a check-in kiosk. Keep it short, though. You’re providing a free event to the community, so don’t make people feel like there are strings attached to your friendly gesture.
  • Consider allowing those cards to serve as an entry form to win a drawing–for something that is worth sharing their contact information.
  • Be straightforward. People will be more likely to give you their information if you tell them what you’re going to do with it. Will you send them a letter or add them to your weekly newsletter?
  • Use that valuable information within the next few days after your event—while the fun is still fresh in their minds. Get them entered into your database and into a workflow so they receive an automated email or letter. Have a member of your follow-up team call them. Invite them to the next family-friendly event at your church. Use Trunk or Treat as just the first step in making families familiar with your church.

Most of these ideas are perfect for other seasonal activities your church plans like a fall festival or spring fling. Throw seamless events, but make sure you focus on more on the outreach opportunities—isn’t that why you’re doing it, after all?

CHECK OUT THESE OTHER RESOURCES ON EFFECTIVE FOLLOW-UP:

Fantastic Family Follow Up

Follow-up after a Church Holiday Outreach Event: Speed Dating or Relationship Building? (article removed)

8 Effective Ways to Follow up with Guests at Your Church

Going Beyond To Stop Hunger

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Here at Elexio, we obviously love software and technology and striving to make things easier for the church. But what really drives us is our heart for people.

We are blessed to have rewarding careers that not only make an eternal impact, but also provide for us financially so we can live comfortable lives. We don’t have to worry where our next meal will come from—but many people throughout the world do.  041

Did you know that 2.6 million children under the age of five die each year from undernutrition? Or that undernourishment contributes to more deaths than malaria, tuberculosis, and AIDS combined?

Because God has given us so much, we know we need to share His love with others by not only reaching out to them spiritually, but also helping meet their physical needs.

That’s why we’ve partnered with Harvest Bible Chapel here in Lancaster County, PA through their Go Beyond campaign—a week dedicated to spontaneous and planned acts of kindness.

We have signs posted throughout the office that serve as constant reminders to be thinking of ways to go out of our way to put others first. And last week we participated in an effort to send thousands of meals for the hungry through Stop Hunger Now—an organization whose mission is to end world hunger.

Our staff volunteered in two groups with others from the community to package over 10,000 meals to be sent across the world in each two hour shift.

The dehydrated meals contain several nutrient-rich ingredients, specifically designed for people who are malnourished and lacking essential vitamins and minerals. Each has a shelf life of two years and costs only 29 cents.

It’s amazing what a few volunteers, a couple hours, and what we’d consider pocket change can do.

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Charity isn’t always just about sending a check—what about getting out of your comfort zone and giving your time to the people who need it most?

And you know what? We had a blast doing it!

We’re now faced with the challenge of making this concept of going beyond not just a one-time event, but a lasting change in our attitude and culture. The people who are hungry or sick or impoverished will not all be reached overnight, but with a Christ-like mindset and selfless hard work, we can spark a change.

 

Let us know—how are you going beyond to make a difference?

Serving Up HOPE One Cup Of Coffee At A Time

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Here at Elexio, we spend hours each day coding, designing, and providing support to churches all around the country—and that means a lot of coffee to get us through the long days.

But we leverage this guilty pleasure to help make a difference in the world. We get our caffeine fix from HOPE Coffee.

Launched in 2009 to provide visitors a coveted souvenir of Honduran coffee to take home from short-term mission strips, HOPE Coffee began as a small operation. Mark Fittz, a missionary to Honduras with Camino Global, connected with local coffee farmers to purchase the coffee and Honduran churches to dedicate proceeds to community projects.

As people fell in love with both the mission and flavor of HOPE Coffee, Mark was overwhelmed by the number of requests to send coffee to the United States. In 2010, a U.S.-based branch of HOPE Coffee opened in Dallas to keep up with the demand and increase the community impact.

Small local farmers provide the strictly high grown coffee which is:

  • Fairly traded – the farmers and other workers are paid fair wages
  • Directly traded – the beans are purchased directly from the farmers
  • Community traded – the profits are invested back into Honduran communities through local church outreach programs

Proceeds from HOPE Coffee help Camino Global meet its goal of producing and empowering followers of Jesus Christ by creating income to sustain mission ministries and developing relationships with the Honduran church and surrounding communities.

In 2013 alone, HOPE Coffee was able to provide new homes to two widows, new stoves to 28 families, 10 water systems, and two bathrooms.

But beyond meeting the real physical needs of the Honduran people, HOPE Coffee also uses these projects to share the Gospel and address their spiritual needs.

A woman named Sofia was one of the widows to receive a new home last year. In 1990, Sofia was pregnant with her fourth child when her husband was murdered. In order to care for her family, she woke up at 2 AM each morning to make food to sell on the streets. Then her son Samuel lost his eye in an accident. Sofia had a seven pound tumor removed at only 32 years. Her daughter got cancer. But devastated by loss, illness, and poverty, Sofia’s family consistently received support and encouragement from the church. She learned that God loved her even through these times of trial. HOPE Coffee partnered with the church to show the love of Christ in a tangible way by meeting her physical needs with a new home.

Many others have come to know Christ through these efforts, and they have even bigger plans for the future.

Please consider serving HOPE Coffee at your churchto help reach the people of Honduras. We can all make a small impact by switching our morning brew to HOPE Coffee.

Learn more about HOPE Coffee and Camino Global!

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Image Credits: HOPE Coffee