Churches everywhere look to do a better job engaging with their visitors. Even after a new visitor comes to your church for the first time, there’s always the question as to how to best keep track of growth and retention in the church, as well as what to do to follow up with visitors, even after they’ve left your parish. This article is the second part in a two-part series on how to better engage with parish visitors and looks more distinctly at best practices and tips to follow up with church visitors.
To help you with ideas and best practices on hospitality and making a great first impression with your church visitors, be sure to check out Part 1.
Questions To Ask Yourself As You Get Started
- How do we gather new visitor information?
- What method(s) do we use to communicate with them after their visit?
- What content should we send in our follow up communication?
- When is the best time to send our first communication?
Once someone has visited or interacted with your church, whether it’s through an event, Sunday service, or even filling out a contact form online, they’ve given you their information to be able to reach them. So the first step in order to contact your church visitors is to gather the information from your resources.
Go through and have a team or individual enter all the new church visitor information from your connect cards, registration forms, online forms, etc. and build a database of contacts to invite back to your church.
Organizing Your Contacts
As you build your contact database, take time to include any specific details about the person that you know or they provided. Some examples would include: if they’re male or female, their age range, spiritual gifts, ministry interests, events they’ve attended in the past, etc. As you work on communicating to your congregation, there will be times that you’ll want to specify a demographic to send your message to and connecting your contacts to specific groups will help you do that.
Churches everywhere are finding text messaging to be an extremely useful tool for immediate communications, with 98% of text messages being read within the first 2 minutes. For cases where you want to send a brief message, such as a greeting or event announcement, text messaging is the perfect way to alert your recipient and get their attention. Text messages also work well for sending a quick greeting with an introduction from the pastor, immediately after someone’s first visit and then inviting them to respond and return for the next service.
These days, every church should have an email communication platform for newsletter announcements, and general communications outside of church. Emails are a great way to actively communicate without intruding and allow you to provide more detailed information. For those who sign up for volunteer opportunities, want to learn more about the church, or just stay up to date on what’s happening, email is an ideal communication medium for them.
Living in a digital age, we can’t neglect the significance of actually visiting someone in person. In fact, these types of interactions are even more special in today’s communication landscape and show the compassion of your church to take time out of your schedule and give them some company. If you bring a gift, like a tasty dessert, that usually gets you even more brownie points (pun totally intended).
What Should You Talk About?
If you’re not sure what to include in your follow up communications, some great ideas are upcoming event promotions, a thank you message for visiting, an introduction from the pastor, and more. It’s also great to include special resources like a link to a welcome video from your church or encourage them to sign up for other communications, such as the church email newsletter, so they stay informed of everything going on at your church.
As new visitors come to your parish, it makes a powerful first impression to follow up with them shortly afterward to make sure they’ve got someone they can communicate with in order to answer their questions and potentially get plugged in somewhere at the church. Make sure that your church is equipped to succeed with the best tools and resources to reach and engage your visitors, even after they’ve left your parish.