3 Reasons Why Your Church is Struggling to Reach Young Families

Here at Text In Church, we have had the privilege of working with thousands of churches and their Guest Follow-up Systems.  Needless to say, we have learned a lot! One of the most significant findings has been identifying 3 big (HUGE actually) follow-up mistakes that are hurting your ability to connect with young families.

When working with a church, here’s how the conversation around guest follow-up usually goes...

Me: Describe your current follow-up process with 1st time guests.

Pastor: Uh… well… we send them our weekly eNewsletter (which is sometimes bi-weekly).

Me: Is that all?

Pastor: No.  No, our office admin also sends out a nice form letter.

Me: And… How’s that working for you?

Pastor: Not so well.

Sound familiar?

I get it… Pastors are overworked and have responsibilities that soar out of control.  The last thing you need is another task added to your to-do-list.

So… let me save you some time.

When done right… effective guest follow-up can be completed in less than 45 seconds per guest.  It sounds crazy, but it’s not. Churches all across the country are leveraging technology to do it every week.  And it’s saving them from making one, or all, of these 3 huge mistakes...

Big Mistake #1: Inconsistency

Effective guest follow-up must be consistent!  So, you need a plan (a system) in place to ensure that every guest is followed up with, each and every week.  Even when you are REALLY BUSY.

Here’s why…

I believe first time guests come to church because of one of the 4-Ds.  The 4-D Theory encourages us to consider the WHY. Why is this person here today?  It argues that people attend a church for the first time (or the first time in a long time) because of a recent Death, Divorce, Disaster or Displacement.  

So, if this is true, or even sometimes true, we as Christians need to reach out and truly connect with these people.  

They need a friend.

And I believe we are called to be that friend.  It’s no longer good enough to be a friendly church.  We must live into a new radical hospitality that seeks to build true relationships.

When we’re inconsistent with our follow-up… we let them down.  Even when we are busy, we must commit to consistently reach out to each and every first time guest.

Big Mistake #2: Irrelevancy

We must stay relevant!  When following up with a first time guest, we need to communicate with people as if we were one of their friends.  When was the last time you scheduled a lunch with a friend by sending a form letter? NEVER! Then why would we use that as our only means of connecting with a guest?  

Consider this… if you truly needed to connect with an old friend… how would you do it?

Give them a call?  Shoot them a text message?  Send them a quick email? Stop by their home?  Send them a letter in the mail?

Of course you would.  You’d use any means necessary to connect.  Follow-up is no different. We should stick to the “Golden Rule of Follow-up”.  It states,

If it truly matters… use every means possible.

This, my friend, truly matters.

It also matters when you contact folks.  And… we have that schedule all laid out for you.  With our years of experience with thousands of church leaders, we have developed a very intentional, planned out, and proven 6 week follow up strategy.  

(Don’t worry, we included it in this post).

For most effectively connecting with both members and guests, send (or better yet, schedule) your message for Saturday morning!  It makes perfect sense if you think about it. We’re simply joining in on a conversation that is already occurring as families make their weekend plans.    

And, as a quick aside, please don't rely on your eNewletter to connect with first time guests. Let's face it... we are so accustomed to receiving, then DELETING, long pretty emails that have tons of information that we don't really care about. What gets people to connect with you and your church is feeling known, noticed and loved. An eNewsletter just won't get the job done.

Big Mistake #3: Insufficiency

Far too often our follow-up is just plain insufficient.  We can’t expect an email or a phone call will break a person’s lifelong habit of not coming to church.  We are competing with Saturday night plans that went later than expected, kids who are throwing temper tantrums and don’t want to go, and people who just don’t have a routine of getting up and out on Sunday mornings.  It’s basic human psychology. Habits are formed over time. And… habits are broken over time.

So, our follow-up must be sustained for at least 6 weeks.  This means that each weekend for 6 weeks we must reach out to ensure our church is front of mind.

Here’s what we suggest…

Notice the majority of the messages are scheduled toward the weekend.  We’ve found emails and text messages are especially effective on Friday and Saturday as families make their weekend plans.  

Consider this…

What if this Saturday you sent out a simple message like this…

“Hey Tyler, it’s Pastor from City Church.  I hope you’re planning to join us tomorrow morning for service at 10:30.  The coffee will be hot! :)”

Small gestures like this have a HUGE impact.

Conclusion

By addressing these BIG Follow-up Mistakes you can ensure that your guest follow-up connects with guests in a relevant & consistent manner.

So to wrap up, remember...

  1. Consistent - Don’t let guests question whether or not you care about them; consistent follow up communicates a clear message!
  2. Relevant - Help bridge the gap between the church and the guests by communicating with them in a way that is familiar and easy!
  3. Sufficient - this isn’t a one-and-done approach.  Follow our proven, 6 week follow-up plan to help create a new habit of attending church!

It doesn’t stop here, though.  Once you have an epic guest follow-up system in place, think about how simple things in your service can help engage guests better.

For example, check out our blog posts on crafting an effective welcome speech and mastering your connection card strategy.

The fact is… Text In Church can help you automate your guest follow-up system so you can spend less time managing tools and more time building relationships.