What is the best way to get newcomers’ contact information? We have a connect card attached to our weekly program. During announcements the service host draws attention to the card asking people to fill it out, but I don’t feel like a large percentage actually do that. Children’s check in seems to be the place we get most information because parents must give info to check children in/out.
[Lanette Whitaker, Director of Step-In Ministry, Morgan Hill Bible Church, Morgan Hill, CA]
Lanette, you’ve mentioned a couple. Let me include those – plus a litany of other ways – below:
- In-service: tear-off card, pew card, etc.
- Database entry: for your kids or student area or opt-in for online newsletters.
- First time guest tent: this is my personal favorite and our primary method.
- First time guest parking: leave info on the windshield, inviting people to connect further.
- First time guest surveys: use a follow up after the first visit to grab more demographics.
- Information / next steps area: use every conversation as an opportunity to capture a few facts.
- Event sign up: newcomers gatherings, small group info, or all-church event.
- “Plan your visit”: give your guests the chance to pre-register before they show up. (Brentwood Baptist Church does a great job with this.)
- Digital opt-ins: in-service texting options, church website, social media forms, etc.
- Readers…what have I missed? Comment below.
But before you settle on the best method(s), it’s important that your team create some handles around why you’re asking for the info in the first place. Obviously, getting a guest’s address, email, or phone number gives us a follow up opportunity we might not otherwise have. And no follow up means little chance of a guest giving your church another chance.
So what are those handles, exactly? What are the structural questions we need to ask before we can ask our guests for their personal information? Here are a few:
What are we doing with the information we receive? If there is no good follow up process, don’t waste your guests’ time. Don’t hoard info if it never makes its way to a database. Your guests are trusting you with their personal info; steward it wisely.
What is the benefit for our guests? What do they perceive as the trade-off for information? Deeper connection? A giveaway coffee mug? The threat that a pastor is going to drop by their house that afternoon?
Are we allowing opt-in, or are we simply arm-twisting? Do we explain to guests exactly how we’ll use their information? Do we allow an out if they are remotely uncomfortable?
Are we using what we ask for? Are we serving our guests well by asking for name, address, kids’ names, phone number, shoe size, favorite elementary school teacher, and list of hobbies? Have we learned that asking for less may get us more?
Are we asking too much, too soon? In the honorable attempt to help guests connect, are we considering their comfort? Ryan Stigile shares some great – if convicting – thoughts on this.
Are we clearing the path? Are we making it incredibly easy for guests to share information? Are we meeting them on their terms instead of ours? Are we helping them see the benefit to taking a step in order to connect?
Getting good guest info is a big deal, because information can lead to connection, and connection can be the starting point to transformation. But let’s make sure we’re honoring our guests before we harvest their info.
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