9 Ideas for Building a Sustainable, Effective Guest Follow-Up Ministry
Congratulations! You made it through the on-campus experience with a guest AND you collected some contact information on a Connect Card! Next step: follow up with that guest. The follow-up stage is mission critical to connecting with guests and inviting them to come back. It’s also a great place to help guests take next steps with your church. Here are 9 steps to help your follow-up ministry be as effective as possible:
Compile everything into one place
Between your lobby hosts, offering, Welcome Center and Kids’ Ministry, you hopefully have Connect Cards or Kids’ Ministry Registration Cards from nearly every guest at your church. Collect all these different cards and get them in one place. The data can be distributed later, but start by getting everything together.
Save the information
Regardless of what platform you use (CCB, FellowshipOne, etc.) input all your guest information into your contact management software. If you don’t have a contact management system, we recommend getting one. This is where you keep track of member contact information, and new guests as well. There are lots of different options out there, so do some homework and pick one that will grow with your church.
Pass it along
Your Guest Ministry should include volunteers who follow up with guests after their visit. That follow-up can (and should) include phone, text, email and physical mail methods. Not every guest will give you every contact method, so make sure you have systems in place to take advantage of whatever information they give you.
For many churches, there is a strong temptation to have the pastor or a staff member handle the entirety of this system. Resist the temptation. It’s not sustainable for the long term and it prevents members from having opportunities to contribute to your church. Additionally, there are only so many friendships/connections a pastor or staff member can make. By using volunteers, you increase the chances of a new guest connecting with someone they could actually build a friendship with.
Regardless of the system you choose, track guests for multiple weeks after their visit. Every time a guest returns to your church it doubles the chance of them still being there a year later. Following up in one, two, four and six week intervals can help increase the chance of a guests return.
First Visit Follow-Up
After a guest’s first visit, your follow-up system should focus on thanking them for coming, and inviting them to come back. Here are some possible steps:
- Sunday. Send a text saying “Thanks for coming! How was your visit?”
- Monday. Send a professional looking, html based, email telling a guest more about your church.
- Tuesday. Mail a hand-written note thanking a guest for coming and inviting them back. (This will probably arrive on Thursday.)
- Saturday. Send them another text/email inviting them back to church. Remind them there is another gift waiting for them when they return!
Second Visit Follow-Up
They enjoyed their first visit enough to return! Invite them to take a next step through a personal connection
- Monday. Text or call inviting to meet up before service next weekend or to an event to meet people (small group, social outing, etc.)
- Tuesday. Mail a hand-written note inviting a guest to take a next step (attend a class, join a group, get baptist, volunteer etc.)
- Wednesday. Send an html based email on ways to get connected to, and meet other people within your church.
- Friday. Send a text message inviting them back to your church this weekend.
Repeat and Refine
Your Guest Ministry will evolve over time as you find out what works best for your church. Remember, just because something doesn’t work for one guest, doesn’t mean it isn’t working for others. Make sure you get enough feedback on your processes before changing things. Also, don’t stick with something that doesn’t work just because you really want it to. Some steps to evolving your Guest Ministry include:
- Track guests over 8 weeks. Not everyone comes back next week, but what about 3 or 4 weeks from now? Make sure you account for guests’ busy schedules.
- Evaluate guest retention. Looking back over a rolling 6 month or 12 month period can give you a better picture of how well you’re doing at retaining guests.
- Make improvements. As the leader of your Guest Ministry, there may come a time when you have to change a process. Make sure you’ve given a process enough time to confirm that it needs to be changed, then pray, explain to volunteers if appropriate, and gently make adjustments.
- Evaluate volunteers. If a process doesn’t seem to be working, make sure that it’s being executed correctly before deciding to change things. Evaluate volunteers regularly and praise and correct as appropriate.
Building a Guest Ministry is not a one week process. It’s going to take time (more than you want) and effort (more than you think it should) to get it up and running, and have it be healthy and sustainable. If all aspects of your church are healthy and you put in the effort to build a great system that invites guests, makes a great impression on them, and follows up well over time, your church will grow.