One of the biggest challenges in following-up with guests is being able to identify them and acquire enough information from them to enable you to follow-up. Most Churches use a mechanism to collect attendance information and it is often not very effective at collecting the information you need.
Attention Pad Passers
if your Church passes pads for people to sign here are three problems that hinder your guest follow-up:
1. The pads are very limited in the information they gather.
2. Guest will mimic the behavior of their neighbors. If their neighbors only write their name in the pad, that is what most guests will do too.
3. The sheets torn out from the pad do not lend themselves to easy organization for those doing the follow-up.
You will diminish your opportunity for follow-up if you pass attendance pads.
Look Out Fancy Pants Bulletin Tear Outs
Perhaps your Church is more sophisticated and “with it” than the “pad passers” and you have a perforated tear off in your bulletin shell. Your approach is not all that great either. Here some reasons why:
1. Does your guest have something to write on? I bet not. Have you ever tried writing on a flimsy piece of paper without a hard surface? If you can coax your pen to write, it still is not easy? Are most of your guests going to go to all that trouble? When I am a guest at a Church like this I usually skip filling out the tear off. It is too much trouble.
2. Do you give them something to write with, maybe a pen or a pencil? How many people do you know come to Church with a pen in their pocket or purse? Who wants to go digging through a purse for a pen during the middle of the worship service. It is likely to make noise and attract attention to themselves. Forget it.
3. How do you motivate your guests to actually tear out the slip and fill it out? Do you walk them through it every week. That tear out is easy to overlook unless it is designed to stick out be noticed, and you actually walk your guests through it.
If only guests tear it out, who models the behavior for your guests to do it? Remember two things: Guests don’t want a spotlight on them. Guests will mimic what everyone else is doing. Tear outs might seem like a good idea, but they are actually not very guest friendly.
The Better Way To Gather Guest Information
I learned this from Nelson Searcy when I did a year long mentor program under him, and then put it into practice at the Church I was serving at the time. It worked well. It is called a “Connection Card.” It is an actual card, i.e. printed on card stock so you can write on it without need a solid backing. I experimented and found half an 8 x 11 sheet worked best. It was big and easily noticed. It also gave me plenty of room to include lots of important information on it. The content changed slightly each week. We also did not assume people brought a pen with them to write with. We had some cheap pens printed with our name and website on them and clipped one to each bulletin. We put out a basket for people to return the pens after the worship service so we could use them again. But if they kept them it identified our Church and website to whoever used them.
The Connection Card had four or five parts. The first asked people for basic information: name, address, phone, email, and cell phone. We included by the cell phone line a box to indicate if they would like to receive text messages.
The second part was for asking people to sign up to do something or attend something. Every week we tried to include sign-ups for upcoming events as well as ways for people to sign up to do things for the Church. Among these were always requests for people to sign-up to pray for specific things during the coming week. We had email templates prepared ahead of time with follow-up for each of these sign-ups and a plan for who to refer information to about them. This became the main way people signed up for things.
The third part included a way for people to request more information or to tell us they had made a decision to follow Jesus that week so we would know to contact them about things or share with them more information. if you have read earlier posts about Assimilation you might remember we put together a follow-up plan for new believers. Checking off the appropriate box on the card is one way that plan would be put into action with an individual.
The fourth part was simply a place for people to share prayer requests. They could write them out and indicate who they want to know about the request, the pastor, a prayer team, or the congregation. When possible I would follow-up prayer requests with some sort of contact. The fifth part was reserved for special items or general feedback. For instance we might put in a survey or something for people to respond to a challenge in the message.
The “Contact Card” would not have worked unless we did one more thing. We made it an important part of the worship service each and every week. We asked everyone to fill it out at the beginning of the service. And reminded them about it right before the offering. We asked people to put the card in the offering. This gave electronic givers and guests something to do when the offering plate came down their aisle.
I also went to different groups of members in the Church and asked them to fill the card out each week. When I asked them to commit to filling it out each week, I explained that they would be modeling for our guests what we want them to do.
The Connection Card and the information it contained each week was critical to the success of the whole Assimilation ministry of the Church. If guests did not fill it out, there was nothing to follow-up. If they did, Not only did I have the information I needed, but I also in a way had their permission. When we introduced the card in worship we mentioned two additional things: 1. We wanted guests to fill out the card so that we might acknowledge their presence with us. 2. If they were a guest with us for the first time, we had a special gift for them to pick up after the service. We will talk about the gift in a future post. When we used a Connection CArd we made it easier for guests to share information with us. We also introduced ways for guests and everyone else to become deeper involved in following Jesus with us every week.