If you’re a regular reader, you know that Fridays are usually reserved for archived posts. But that was before @MichaelMears tweeted this question yesterday:
Are you gonna blog any on connecting new peeps at Easter & follow up? Just an idea 🙂
Y’all know I’m not one to back down from a challenge. Unless it involves push ups. Or sit ups. Or chin ups. Or licking a scorpion. But give me a free idea for fresh content and I’m on that like stink on a monkey. So here we go, thanks to Michael…
Easter is over. You’ve put your good suit back in the closet, you’ve had your Sunday afternoon coma nap, and you’ve finished off the last of the leftover ham sandwiches.
So what now?
What do you do about the stack of guest cards that are sitting on your desk, waiting on your Monday morning arrival? How do you follow up with the people God sent your way? What’s the best way to turn a first time guest into a returning guest?
- Get good information. One of the cardinal sins of ministering to guests is getting them to your church, but not knowing they’re at your church. Prior to your first Easter service, remind your First Time Guest Team the importance of capturing good information. “Bob” written on a card is not good info. Get email, phone, address, family members’ names, whatever. Oh, and make sure it’s legible. [our guest info card]
- Provide a reason for them to leave their information. Some guests like to remain anonymous. While you should honor that, you should also make the information capture as painless as possible. We try to do that pre-service at our First Time Guest tent. It’s outside and in the way so that people (a) have to walk past it and (b) feel like that’s a “safe place” to find out where to go next. We also give ’em a gift bag as an incentive to stop by. And finally, we let the guest know that leaving their information means that a pastor will follow up via phone call or email to see how their experience was. We try to offset fears of someone showing up at their house on Monday night. (We also capture information in the service on a tear-off card, but the tent provides a face and a conversation and facilitates a friendship.)
- Send an immediate follow up email. If you can get a team of volunteers to enter information into a database as it comes, great. Many church offices close the Monday after Easter (ours does). In full disclosure, we probably won’t be able to get all of that info entered and finalized until sometime Tuesday, but you should strive to be more awesome than us. 🙂 We use MailChimp and a pre-formatted email complete with links to our website, Starting Point event, etc. MailChimp keeps you from being blocked as spam whether you’re sending a few dozen or a few hundred emails.
- Make a phone call. This is such an easy “touch” that so many pastors leave out. I’ve made thousands of 2-3 minute phone calls in ten years at the Summit, phone calls that generally pay huge dividends in helping a guest feel like a huge church isn’t so huge. The purpose of the call is simple: I thank them for coming, ask about their experience, and invite them to a next step. My goal is always to be off the phone in three minutes – but that’s in honor of their time. If they have questions or want to talk more, I’ll spend whatever time necessary.
- Provide a next step. For us, that’s Starting Point, and we specifically scheduled it for two weekends after our big Easter rush. We’ll pull out all the stops to get everyone to that event, which highlights various on ramps into the church, from small groups to service to baptism to covenant membership. Your next step might be a welcome reception, or a new believers class, or a party, or whatever. But provide a quick way for people to further connect.
- Empower your people to do their own follow up. Most of this weekend’s guests will be there at the invitation of a friend or family member. If you’re a pastor, your job is to equip them to do the work of the ministry. Don’t cheat ’em. Encourage them to take their guests to lunch and discuss what they’ve heard. Remind them to invite their guests to return again the following weekend. Or provide a resource: challenge them to study the gospel of John with their unbelieving friend, or to go through a deeper study like Christianity Explained.
I’ll bet you know an item or two I’ve left out. I want to hear from you. Comment below!
Other good content from around the web:
- Don’t waste your spike: Easter attendance, effective follow up, and your church (Ed Stetzer)
- Six secrets to effective Easter follow up (Dale Hudson)
- Keep following up on Easter (Rick Warren)