Everything You Need to Know About Church Guest Follow-up

May 9, 2022 | Guest Follow-up, Most Popular

Imagine it’s Sunday morning. You have a family that arrives five minutes before the service starts and it’s their first time at your church. You’ve never seen them before. Nothing can go wrong with your guest follow-up strategy.

Your hospitality team is firing on all cylinders. The worship team sounds amazing and is giving you goosebumps. Your children’s ministry is incredible as it always is. You knock your sermon out of the park!

You know everything is perfect.

But that new family doesn’t come back…

This leaves you heartbroken. Confused. Discouraged.

You start to wonder… what did we do wrong?

Was the hospitality team not fully equipped? Did they not like the music? Was our children’s ministry just not quite up to par? Did I not prepare enough?

What was it?

Well, we’re finding life often gets in the way of people returning to church because they have a pattern of not coming to church. So, we have to break that pattern and help them form a new healthy rhythm of attending church.

We know it can oftentimes be frustrating. It can be challenging. And it can be discouraging. It can feel like an uphill battle.

Statistics show, the national average of first-time guests who return for a second visit is only about 10-20%.

Now, your church may be slightly better or worse than that. But what if you could double the amount of new guests to come back after their first visit?

What would it mean for your church if your guest retention went from 10% to 20%? Or from 20% to 40%.

It would be massive, right?

Think about how your church could go from barely surviving to truly thriving if you could just focus on your first-time guests and boost your retention rate.

With a focused and effective guest follow-up strategy, you can achieve that goal.

Well, buckle up… We are sharing everything you need to know about church guest follow-up.

5 reasons why people come to your church for the first time, and why you can’t ignore guest follow-up

First, let’s zoom out and get the 10,000 foot view of first-time guests.

Most people, when they come to your church for the first time, are showing up for one of five reasons.

This is known as the “5-D Theory”:

  • Divorce
  • Death in the family
  • Displacement (a move)
  • Disaster
  • Development

Now, there may be a few outliers. But what the 5-D Theory points out is that people are showing up to your church because they have real feelings, they have real lives with real hurts, and real questions. And they’re searching.

It’s hard to imagine when someone looks up your church online or just walks through your doors one day because they suddenly think… “Hmm, maybe I’ll try a brand new church!

The truth is, it’s more likely they’re desperate. They’re confused. They’re lonely. They’re scared. They’re hopeless.

And if the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that people are seeking community and connection.

So, the solution is relatively simple… build strong connections.

From the moment they check you out online, you need to take every opportunity to make them feel known, noticed, and loved.

You may be thinking you don’t have time to genuinely connect with all of the website visitors you have, in addition to your in-person guests and your livestream viewers.

But we’re confident our 3-step framework will actually save you time. The following three steps are the foundational pieces to keep guests coming back.

 

 
 

Step 1: Gather your new guest’s contact information

The first step in our three-step framework is to Gather your guest’s contact information.

This is crucial because it is what allows you to start building a relationship with people. And relationships can’t begin if we don’t first have a way to get in touch with them.

And with the shift towards online church being a part of our weekend services even after the pandemic, you may never have the chance to meet some people in person.

But if you have someone’s email address and phone number, you can still connect with them in between your weekend services. You can pray with them, point them toward local ministries if they are interested, or be there when they are ready to attend church.

Gather is the crucial first step in building genuine, long-term relationships with the people in your community. And investing in people is definitely an investment worth making.

How to gather guests’ contact information

The best way to gather contact information is the use of connect cards. We have a lot of resources on this topic. Connect cards have been used in church since the beginning of the modern church, but not all are created equal.

However, here are two important things you need to do when it comes to connect cards:

  • Have different connect card options
  • Keep them as short and simple as possible

By options, we mean don’t just use the paper connect card in the seatback. Here are other connect card options to consider:

  • Texting a keyword
  • QR code guests can scan
  • A digital connect card on an iPad at your welcome center
  • An online digital connect card for live stream viewers

It’s not that one is better than the other, you just want to utilize as many as you can so people can choose the one that’s most comfortable for them. Again, it’s about getting as many people as you can to provide their contact information.

Secondly, you want to keep your connect card simple.

Don’t ask for more information than you need. We recommend asking only for their name, cell number, and email address. The less you ask them to fill out, the more likely they are to complete it.

You can always ask for more information from people later. But to get started, you only need enough information to keep a conversation going with your guests.

The other vital piece of the Gather step is the Welcome Talk. This is a point in your service, usually at the beginning, where you welcome new guests and invite them to fill out the connect card so you can stay in touch with them.

Our CEO, Tyler Smith, walks you through how to get more church guests to fill out connect cards with the welcome talk training in this short video.

You can access the whole proven framework for the Welcome Talk with short training videos and script templates to use for different occasions as well by clicking here

The whole purpose of the Gather step is to allow you to then Connect with your guests. This is the second part of our guest follow-up framework.

 
 

Step 2: Connect with your first-time guests

Connection CAN and SHOULD happen all over your church – during service, before and after, and throughout the week.

Remember, you can’t exclusively rely on connecting with people during your weekend services. You need to have a proactive approach so your guests don’t slip through the cracks. You need to be in contact with guests throughout the week to help them break their habit of NOT attending. Plus, you’ll find opportunities to minister to people and build relationships you may not have otherwise.

First, take a minute to think about what your church is currently doing.

  • How are you trying to connect with your first-time guests?
  • What is your system for getting them back?
  • What’s going well?
  • What’s going poorly?

Now, when you have people who are coming to your church for the first time, whether that’s online or in-person, some of them have a lifetime habit of NOT going to church. Or maybe they’ve just been out of the routine for a few months. Either way, they have started to fill that time slot with something else.

Even if it’s just a morning where they sleep in or spend time together as a family, they have a lifestyle change they have to make and you have to help them break their current pattern to form a new rhythm of attending church regularly.

To help with that, our guest follow-up plan consists of the RIGHT kind of messaging, delivered in the RIGHT frequency, over the RIGHT amount of time.

Think of it like a formula:

content + frequency + duration = effective guest follow-up

Have confidence knowing the right message will be sent to the right person at the right time with Text In Church!

Have the confidence knowing the right message will be sent to the right person at the right time with Text In Church

3 huge mistakes churches are making in their guest follow-up efforts

Before we dive into the 6 critical and effective ways to follow up with first-time guests, let’s look at 3 HUGE mistakes churches can’t afford to be making when it comes to following up with new guests.

Mistake #1: Inconsistency

This is one of the biggest mistakes churches make when it comes to guest follow-up.  Like I said earlier, when a first-time guest shows up at your church, they have a lifestyle of not being at church. If invitations or introductions are sporadic and unintentional, they will get drowned out by the noise of life and those guests will fall through the cracks.

Consistent communication is key to showing a guest they’re important. We know you care, but THEY need to know you care. And the best way for them to know it is for you to show it.

Mistake #2: Irrelevant messaging

There are two ways your church can be irrelevant in terms of your guest follow-up. You can be irrelevant in the content of your messages and in the method of your messages.

Irrelevant content is sending the singles ministry event invite to a married couple.

Yikes. Don’t do that.

With a first-time guest, you don’t know anything about the person yet. So the content you send should be basic: Invitations to services or events, encouragement, and asking how you can pray for them. As you get to know them better, you can send them more specific announcements to align with their interests and needs.

Irrelevant methods are ignoring peoples’ communication preferences or not offering preferences at all. Don’t just communicate exclusively via email because that’s how you’ve always done it. Everyone prefers a different method of communication, so use a combination in order to stay relevant! For example text, phone call, social media, and email.

Mistake #3: Insufficient follow-up

This is probably the most common mistake we see. And we totally get why. Sending multiple messages to, hopefully, many first-time guests week after week after week… can become a huge, time-intensive, workload if you do it manually.

However, insufficient follow up is simply noise. One quick email blast that looks like a newsletter is something new guests just don’t read. It feels automated and generic and people see right through it.

And again, many of your first-time guests have a lifetime pattern of not being at church. One or two follow up messages isn’t going to make an impact because they need to be continually reminded in order to create this new habit of coming to church.

When we talk about a sufficient follow-up process, we are talking about at least 6 weeks’ worth of follow-up using text messages, emails, connecting on social media, a phone call, a handwritten letter, and a gift.

We believe in the golden rule of church communication, which is “If the message truly matters, then use all means necessary to communicate it.” 

We think it’s important to recognize that different people respond and connect to messages coming from different places.

It’s a comprehensive approach focused on relationship building. We aren’t talking about sending texts and emails out every day and bugging people. Just simple invites, check-ins, encouragement, and reminders. Sufficient guest follow-up is investing in that person and building a relationship with them.

Start the conversation with guests with our done-for-you text message and email templates you can copy and paste. Download this free resource to start using today!

The Ultimate Guest Follow Up Plan

6 powerful communication tools your church needs to connect with guests

In order to start building a relationship with your first-time guests, we recommend these 6 powerful communication tools your church needs to use to connect with people.

Tool #1: Call new guests

The first tool is to call them on the phone.

Now, I know what you are thinking. “No one calls anymore, I can skip this one!” You’re right, most people don’t answer calls from unknown numbers anymore. But I strongly urge you to not skip this step!

After a first-time guest visits, someone from your church needs to give them a call within the first week. Thank them for coming to your church, let them know you are there if they have any questions, or ask them if there is anything that could have made their experience better. We suggest something like this…

“Hello! This is Tyler from City Church. Thank you so much for joining us on Sunday! I’m glad you visited and wanted to invite you to join us again this coming weekend. If you have any questions, please give me a call back at 816-482-3337. I’m here for you.”

This is a simple way to show that person you thought of them and they are important.

Tool #2: Send a thank you email 

Within the first week (yes, the same week as the phone call), send your guests an email thanking them for taking time out of their weekend to worship with you. Give them links to your website, Facebook page, or podcast. Let them know you are just an email away if they have any questions!

You’ll also want to write this email like you sat down and wrote it to one person. You don’t need to use fancy header images or your picture in the signature. A blank, ugly email is what you’d expect from an email someone sent personally to you, right? Plus, be sure you use their name if you have it and language that’s informal. Connection is the goal, so something like this is ideal…

“Hey James, Pastor Jason here 🙂  I’m so glad you tried out City Church on Sunday.  I hope to see you again next weekend and I get the opportunity to meet you!

You can find out more about our church on our website, then include the link_____, on Facebook @ include the link______, and we have a Podcast here______!

If you have any questions or if there is anything I can pray about with you, I’m here for you.

Take care,

Jason Jones
City Church

Tool #3: Follow up with a text message

The third powerful tool is our favorite (of course!)… text messages.

Now, think about this…

If you were trying to invite a friend to lunch, how would you set that up?

Maybe you thought, “I’d call them.”  But I’m going to guess you thought, “I’d send ‘em a text!” Exactly! Why can’t you do the same thing with guests at your church? We are here to let you know you certainly can text them and it works.

Check out some of these statistics…

  • 26 billion text messages are being sent each and every day
  • Text messages have a 98% percent open rate; email comes in second at a low 20%!
  • 90% of texts are read within the first 3 minutes of being received.

And no… there are no typos! If you want your message seen, you have to text. If you skip out on this one, you are missing one of the biggest opportunities to engage with your guests.

The content needs to be simple and encouraging. Sending a “thanks for coming”,  “can’t wait to see you”, or “how can I pray for you” text message can be a powerful way to show you care and that you want to truly connect.

We have actually found the more casual and conversational these texts are, the better! People appreciate feeling like a pastor just had them on their mind and sent them a quick text message.

We also recommend sending a text message on Friday or Saturday over the next 6 weeks to keep your church service front of mind as people make their weekend plans.

Tool #4: Friend them on Facebook

We all know Facebook is popular. We also know at least a few people who overuse Facebook. (We know you just thought of a specific friend and chuckled a little bit.)

Using Facebook thoughtfully as part of your first-time guest follow-up process shows you are relevant and with the times.

Within the first week of someone visiting your church for the first time, send a reminder to one of your staff members to send them a friend request on Facebook. Ideally, this would be from a staff member they’ve met or would be in contact with regularly (for example, the pastor of adult discipleship or the children’s pastor if they have kids). Then, after their second or third week, invite them to join one of your groups on Facebook or to like your page. This will keep your content in their feed and hopefully get them connecting with others from your church.

Facebook is an especially effective way to follow up if people haven’t left any contact information. As long as you know their name, you can send them a message inviting them back next Sunday!

Tool #5: Give the new guest a gift 

Everyone likes free stuff! Even if “gifts” aren’t your love language, people appreciate a gesture of thoughtfulness. Whether it’s a coffee mug, a gift card to a local restaurant or coffee shop, or something with unique meaning to your church, having something for first-time guests to have in their possession that reminds them they are valued and appreciated is impactful.

There are several ways you can give gifts to guests. You can ask them to head to the welcome center for a free gift after service. You could request their address on the physical or digital connect card and then drop the gift off at their house. Or in a follow-up message after their visit, ask them to stop by your welcome center to pick up their gift before their next visit.

Keep it simple. The gesture itself can go a long way.

Tool #6: Send a handwritten note

Last but certainly not least, our sixth powerful follow-up tool is sending a handwritten note.

With the increasing amount of media that comes our way through technology, a handwritten note stands out, doesn’t it? People appreciate the time and thought it took for you to write them a personalized letter. Again, not a stamped, generic thank you card. But a real thank you letter, where they feel like they were worth your time.

Step #3: Build a guest follow-up system that works for you

Now, we’ve talked through the Gather and Connect phases of our guest follow-up framework, the final part is to Build.

This is all about building a system that works for you and your church. You can gather information and connect with guests using a number of independent tools and giving out your personal cell phone number, but there is a simpler, less time-consuming, and more effective way.

At Text In Church, we built what we call an automated workflow which includes templates already written for you and a pre-set calendar for the whole six weeks you are following up that you can easily add to your account and customize. You simply tweak and update the messages how you want them and you are set!

By using our trusted text and email software, you will have confidence knowing you are always sending the right messages to the right people at the right time. Not to mention, it will feel like having a new staff member working for you 24/7!

Save time, reach more people, and create ministry impact with Text In Church. Start your FREE trial today.

Save time, reach more people, create ministry impact with Text In Church

Conclusion

Now you know the importance of gathering new guest’s information, connecting with them in the right way at the right time, and building a system that works for you so that you are spending less time using technology and more time building relationships.

You can certainly do guest follow-up on your own by putting in hours to collect information, consistently following up with guests in a manual way, and try to keep track of them to make sure they’re getting the right messages at the right time.

Or you can save yourself time and energy by joining the Text In Church family today and letting us do the work for you! Invest in your church’s future with a proven tool to radically improve your guest follow-up plan with a system you can put on autopilot and have confidence knowing your messages will be seen.

Don’t waste money and resources on complicated and fancy tools that don’t work. And don’t waste your valuable time and energy frustrated by a lack of connection and commitment from your church community.

Thousands of churches use Text In Church each week to save time, reach more people, and create ministry impact. Start your 14-day free trial of Text In Church today to see just how easy it is.

Rachel Pedersen signature

Everything You Need to Know About Church Guest Follow-up

May 9, 2022 | Guest Follow-up, Most Popular

Imagine it’s Sunday morning. You have a family that arrives five minutes before the service starts and it’s their first time at your church. You’ve never seen them before. Nothing can go wrong with your guest follow-up strategy.

Your hospitality team is firing on all cylinders. The worship team sounds amazing and is giving you goosebumps. Your children’s ministry is incredible as it always is. You knock your sermon out of the park!

You know everything is perfect.

But that new family doesn’t come back…

This leaves you heartbroken. Confused. Discouraged.

You start to wonder… what did we do wrong?

Was the hospitality team not fully equipped? Did they not like the music? Was our children’s ministry just not quite up to par? Did I not prepare enough?

What was it?

Well, we’re finding life often gets in the way of people returning to church because they have a pattern of not coming to church. So, we have to break that pattern and help them form a new healthy rhythm of attending church.

We know it can oftentimes be frustrating. It can be challenging. And it can be discouraging. It can feel like an uphill battle.

Statistics show, the national average of first-time guests who return for a second visit is only about 10-20%.

Now, your church may be slightly better or worse than that. But what if you could double the amount of new guests to come back after their first visit?

What would it mean for your church if your guest retention went from 10% to 20%? Or from 20% to 40%.

It would be massive, right?

Think about how your church could go from barely surviving to truly thriving if you could just focus on your first-time guests and boost your retention rate.

With a focused and effective guest follow-up strategy, you can achieve that goal.

Well, buckle up… We are sharing everything you need to know about church guest follow-up.

5 reasons why people come to your church for the first time, and why you can’t ignore guest follow-up

First, let’s zoom out and get the 10,000 foot view of first-time guests.

Most people, when they come to your church for the first time, are showing up for one of five reasons.

This is known as the “5-D Theory”:

  • Divorce
  • Death in the family
  • Displacement (a move)
  • Disaster
  • Development

Now, there may be a few outliers. But what the 5-D Theory points out is that people are showing up to your church because they have real feelings, they have real lives with real hurts, and real questions. And they’re searching.

It’s hard to imagine when someone looks up your church online or just walks through your doors one day because they suddenly think… “Hmm, maybe I’ll try a brand new church!

The truth is, it’s more likely they’re desperate. They’re confused. They’re lonely. They’re scared. They’re hopeless.

And if the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that people are seeking community and connection.

So, the solution is relatively simple… build strong connections.

From the moment they check you out online, you need to take every opportunity to make them feel known, noticed, and loved.

You may be thinking you don’t have time to genuinely connect with all of the website visitors you have, in addition to your in-person guests and your livestream viewers.

But we’re confident our 3-step framework will actually save you time. The following three steps are the foundational pieces to keep guests coming back.

Step 1: Gather your new guest’s contact information

The first step in our three-step framework is to Gather your guest’s contact information.

This is crucial because it is what allows you to start building a relationship with people. And relationships can’t begin if we don’t first have a way to get in touch with them.

And with the shift towards online church being a part of our weekend services even after the pandemic, you may never have the chance to meet some people in person.

But if you have someone’s email address and phone number, you can still connect with them in between your weekend services. You can pray with them, point them toward local ministries if they are interested, or be there when they are ready to attend church.

Gather is the crucial first step in building genuine, long-term relationships with the people in your community. And investing in people is definitely an investment worth making.

How to gather guests’ contact information

The best way to gather contact information is the use of connect cards. We have a lot of resources on this topic. Connect cards have been used in church since the beginning of the modern church, but not all are created equal.

However, here are two important things you need to do when it comes to connect cards:

  • Have different connect card options
  • Keep them as short and simple as possible

By options, we mean don’t just use the paper connect card in the seatback. Here are other connect card options to consider:

  • Texting a keyword
  • QR code guests can scan
  • A digital connect card on an iPad at your welcome center
  • An online digital connect card for live stream viewers

It’s not that one is better than the other, you just want to utilize as many as you can so people can choose the one that’s most comfortable for them. Again, it’s about getting as many people as you can to provide their contact information.

Secondly, you want to keep your connect card simple.

Don’t ask for more information than you need. We recommend asking only for their name, cell number, and email address. The less you ask them to fill out, the more likely they are to complete it.

You can always ask for more information from people later. But to get started, you only need enough information to keep a conversation going with your guests.

The other vital piece of the Gather step is the Welcome Talk. This is a point in your service, usually at the beginning, where you welcome new guests and invite them to fill out the connect card so you can stay in touch with them.

Our CEO, Tyler Smith, walks you through how to get more church guests to fill out connect cards with the welcome talk training in this short video.

You can access the whole proven framework for the Welcome Talk with short training videos and script templates to use for different occasions as well by clicking here

The whole purpose of the Gather step is to allow you to then Connect with your guests. This is the second part of our guest follow-up framework.

Step 2: Connect with your first-time guests

Connection CAN and SHOULD happen all over your church – during service, before and after, and throughout the week.

Remember, you can’t exclusively rely on connecting with people during your weekend services. You need to have a proactive approach so your guests don’t slip through the cracks. You need to be in contact with guests throughout the week to help them break their habit of NOT attending. Plus, you’ll find opportunities to minister to people and build relationships you may not have otherwise.

First, take a minute to think about what your church is currently doing.

  • How are you trying to connect with your first-time guests?
  • What is your system for getting them back?
  • What’s going well?
  • What’s going poorly?

Now, when you have people who are coming to your church for the first time, whether that’s online or in-person, some of them have a lifetime habit of NOT going to church. Or maybe they’ve just been out of the routine for a few months. Either way, they have started to fill that time slot with something else.

Even if it’s just a morning where they sleep in or spend time together as a family, they have a lifestyle change they have to make and you have to help them break their current pattern to form a new rhythm of attending church regularly.

To help with that, our guest follow-up plan consists of the RIGHT kind of messaging, delivered in the RIGHT frequency, over the RIGHT amount of time.

Think of it like a formula:

content + frequency + duration = effective guest follow-up

Have confidence knowing the right message will be sent to the right person at the right time with Text In Church!

Have the confidence knowing the right message will be sent to the right person at the right time with Text In Church

3 huge mistakes churches are making in their guest follow-up efforts

Before we dive into the 6 critical and effective ways to follow up with first-time guests, let’s look at 3 HUGE mistakes churches can’t afford to be making when it comes to following up with new guests.

Mistake #1: Inconsistency

This is one of the biggest mistakes churches make when it comes to guest follow-up.  Like I said earlier, when a first-time guest shows up at your church, they have a lifestyle of not being at church. If invitations or introductions are sporadic and unintentional, they will get drowned out by the noise of life and those guests will fall through the cracks.

Consistent communication is key to showing a guest they’re important. We know you care, but THEY need to know you care. And the best way for them to know it is for you to show it.

Mistake #2: Irrelevant messaging

There are two ways your church can be irrelevant in terms of your guest follow-up. You can be irrelevant in the content of your messages and in the method of your messages.

Irrelevant content is sending the singles ministry event invite to a married couple.

Yikes. Don’t do that.

With a first-time guest, you don’t know anything about the person yet. So the content you send should be basic: Invitations to services or events, encouragement, and asking how you can pray for them. As you get to know them better, you can send them more specific announcements to align with their interests and needs.

Irrelevant methods are ignoring peoples’ communication preferences or not offering preferences at all. Don’t just communicate exclusively via email because that’s how you’ve always done it. Everyone prefers a different method of communication, so use a combination in order to stay relevant! For example text, phone call, social media, and email.

Mistake #3: Insufficient follow-up

This is probably the most common mistake we see. And we totally get why. Sending multiple messages to, hopefully, many first-time guests week after week after week… can become a huge, time-intensive, workload if you do it manually.

However, insufficient follow up is simply noise. One quick email blast that looks like a newsletter is something new guests just don’t read. It feels automated and generic and people see right through it.

And again, many of your first-time guests have a lifetime pattern of not being at church. One or two follow up messages isn’t going to make an impact because they need to be continually reminded in order to create this new habit of coming to church.

When we talk about a sufficient follow-up process, we are talking about at least 6 weeks’ worth of follow-up using text messages, emails, connecting on social media, a phone call, a handwritten letter, and a gift.

We believe in the golden rule of church communication, which is “If the message truly matters, then use all means necessary to communicate it.” 

We think it’s important to recognize that different people respond and connect to messages coming from different places.

It’s a comprehensive approach focused on relationship building. We aren’t talking about sending texts and emails out every day and bugging people. Just simple invites, check-ins, encouragement, and reminders. Sufficient guest follow-up is investing in that person and building a relationship with them.

Start the conversation with guests with our done-for-you text message and email templates you can copy and paste. Download this free resource to start using today!

The Ultimate Guest Follow Up Plan

6 powerful communication tools your church needs to connect with guests

In order to start building a relationship with your first-time guests, we recommend these 6 powerful communication tools your church needs to use to connect with people.

Tool #1: Call new guests

The first tool is to call them on the phone.

Now, I know what you are thinking. “No one calls anymore, I can skip this one!” You’re right, most people don’t answer calls from unknown numbers anymore. But I strongly urge you to not skip this step!

After a first-time guest visits, someone from your church needs to give them a call within the first week. Thank them for coming to your church, let them know you are there if they have any questions, or ask them if there is anything that could have made their experience better. We suggest something like this…

“Hello! This is Tyler from City Church. Thank you so much for joining us on Sunday! I’m glad you visited and wanted to invite you to join us again this coming weekend. If you have any questions, please give me a call back at 816-482-3337. I’m here for you.”

This is a simple way to show that person you thought of them and they are important.

Tool #2: Send a thank you email 

Within the first week (yes, the same week as the phone call), send your guests an email thanking them for taking time out of their weekend to worship with you. Give them links to your website, Facebook page, or podcast. Let them know you are just an email away if they have any questions!

You’ll also want to write this email like you sat down and wrote it to one person. You don’t need to use fancy header images or your picture in the signature. A blank, ugly email is what you’d expect from an email someone sent personally to you, right? Plus, be sure you use their name if you have it and language that’s informal. Connection is the goal, so something like this is ideal…

“Hey James, Pastor Jason here 🙂  I’m so glad you tried out City Church on Sunday.  I hope to see you again next weekend and I get the opportunity to meet you!

You can find out more about our church on our website, then include the link_____, on Facebook @ include the link______, and we have a Podcast here______!

If you have any questions or if there is anything I can pray about with you, I’m here for you.

Take care,

Jason Jones
City Church

Tool #3: Follow up with a text message

The third powerful tool is our favorite (of course!)… text messages.

Now, think about this…

If you were trying to invite a friend to lunch, how would you set that up?

Maybe you thought, “I’d call them.”  But I’m going to guess you thought, “I’d send ‘em a text!” Exactly! Why can’t you do the same thing with guests at your church? We are here to let you know you certainly can text them and it works.

Check out some of these statistics…

  • 26 billion text messages are being sent each and every day
  • Text messages have a 98% percent open rate; email comes in second at a low 20%!
  • 90% of texts are read within the first 3 minutes of being received.

And no… there are no typos! If you want your message seen, you have to text. If you skip out on this one, you are missing one of the biggest opportunities to engage with your guests.

The content needs to be simple and encouraging. Sending a “thanks for coming”,  “can’t wait to see you”, or “how can I pray for you” text message can be a powerful way to show you care and that you want to truly connect.

We have actually found the more casual and conversational these texts are, the better! People appreciate feeling like a pastor just had them on their mind and sent them a quick text message.

We also recommend sending a text message on Friday or Saturday over the next 6 weeks to keep your church service front of mind as people make their weekend plans.

Tool #4: Friend them on Facebook

We all know Facebook is popular. We also know at least a few people who overuse Facebook. (We know you just thought of a specific friend and chuckled a little bit.)

Using Facebook thoughtfully as part of your first-time guest follow-up process shows you are relevant and with the times.

Within the first week of someone visiting your church for the first time, send a reminder to one of your staff members to send them a friend request on Facebook. Ideally, this would be from a staff member they’ve met or would be in contact with regularly (for example, the pastor of adult discipleship or the children’s pastor if they have kids). Then, after their second or third week, invite them to join one of your groups on Facebook or to like your page. This will keep your content in their feed and hopefully get them connecting with others from your church.

Facebook is an especially effective way to follow up if people haven’t left any contact information. As long as you know their name, you can send them a message inviting them back next Sunday!

Tool #5: Give the new guest a gift 

Everyone likes free stuff! Even if “gifts” aren’t your love language, people appreciate a gesture of thoughtfulness. Whether it’s a coffee mug, a gift card to a local restaurant or coffee shop, or something with unique meaning to your church, having something for first-time guests to have in their possession that reminds them they are valued and appreciated is impactful.

There are several ways you can give gifts to guests. You can ask them to head to the welcome center for a free gift after service. You could request their address on the physical or digital connect card and then drop the gift off at their house. Or in a follow-up message after their visit, ask them to stop by your welcome center to pick up their gift before their next visit.

Keep it simple. The gesture itself can go a long way.

Tool #6: Send a handwritten note

Last but certainly not least, our sixth powerful follow-up tool is sending a handwritten note.

With the increasing amount of media that comes our way through technology, a handwritten note stands out, doesn’t it? People appreciate the time and thought it took for you to write them a personalized letter. Again, not a stamped, generic thank you card. But a real thank you letter, where they feel like they were worth your time.

Step #3: Build a guest follow-up system that works for you

Now, we’ve talked through the Gather and Connect phases of our guest follow-up framework, the final part is to Build.

This is all about building a system that works for you and your church. You can gather information and connect with guests using a number of independent tools and giving out your personal cell phone number, but there is a simpler, less time-consuming, and more effective way.

At Text In Church, we built what we call an automated workflow which includes templates already written for you and a pre-set calendar for the whole six weeks you are following up that you can easily add to your account and customize. You simply tweak and update the messages how you want them and you are set!

By using our trusted text and email software, you will have confidence knowing you are always sending the right messages to the right people at the right time. Not to mention, it will feel like having a new staff member working for you 24/7!

Save time, reach more people, and create ministry impact with Text In Church. Start your FREE trial today.

Save time, reach more people, create ministry impact with Text In Church

Conclusion

Now you know the importance of gathering new guest’s information, connecting with them in the right way at the right time, and building a system that works for you so that you are spending less time using technology and more time building relationships.

You can certainly do guest follow-up on your own by putting in hours to collect information, consistently following up with guests in a manual way, and try to keep track of them to make sure they’re getting the right messages at the right time.

Or you can save yourself time and energy by joining the Text In Church family today and letting us do the work for you! Invest in your church’s future with a proven tool to radically improve your guest follow-up plan with a system you can put on autopilot and have confidence knowing your messages will be seen.

Don’t waste money and resources on complicated and fancy tools that don’t work. And don’t waste your valuable time and energy frustrated by a lack of connection and commitment from your church community.

Thousands of churches use Text In Church each week to save time, reach more people, and create ministry impact. Start your 14-day free trial of Text In Church today to see just how easy it is.

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