My wife and I (with our 3 boys) left our hometown in Canada in August 2018 to travel North America and visit churches along the way. So far, as of the end of October 2018, we’ve visited 8 churches, and less than half have utilized this simple follow up strategy.
I think you’d agree that following up with your guests after they’ve visited your church for the first time is a helpful way to increase the likelihood that they’ll visit a second time.
After all, there’s only so much information you can expect them to retain from their time at your service, and we can’t expect everyone to read all of the “more about us” paperwork we send home with them after church, so providing guests with bite-sized, relevant information is a helpful way to increase their awareness of what your church offers and how they can get connected.
While this is the case, the flip side is “How can we get more first-time guests to complete the connection card?” and the question is relevant, but maybe there’s a way they’re already giving you contact information that you’re not yet utilizing.
At 8 out of 8 churches, we’ve checked our kids in to their classes, meaning that 100% of the time, we’ve given our personal contact information (at least phone, email, name, and address) so that if we were to lose our kid’s pickup tag, there would be a way to verify we are who we say we are BUT in only 2 cases (25%) was this information used for follow up purposes.
How do we know that the check-in information wasn’t being used, even if the connection card information is?
Simple: My wife’s information goes into Kids check-in, and my information goes on the connection card – that way we can see who follows up in which way.
What do we know about someone who checks in their kids for the first time?
With a fair amount of certainty, we know that:
- They are new, or relatively new to the church (even if they kept their kids in service with them the first few times they visited).
- They have one or more kids (and we know the kids’ ages)
- If the kid is a newborn (maybe the family has been coming for a while and just had their first child)
- We know the age of the person checking them in (most times, our birthday information is collected to cross-reference against a drivers license if we lose our pickup tags and need to provide photo id.)
- The parent’s first name, email address and phone number
- The area where they live (if an address is collected)
- Which service they attended (if you have multiple services)
What can we do with this information?
- Put their information into your automated follow-up email and text service (Text In Church for instance) in the same way as you would treat someone who completed a connection card.
- Provide information to that family about small groups, midweek activities, and events coming up that are relevant to the kids and parents ages.
- Congratulate the parents on the birth of their first child, and provide information about baby dedications.
- Create a reminder system for when that child reaches the right age to attend Youth Group.
- Welcome them as a guest and offer to answer their questions. (for bonus points, send the email from the person who leads your kids’ department)
- Introduce them to someone in the church of a similar age who lives in their area
Would it be best if everyone always completed the new visitor connection card? Sure, but if they’re providing their information another way, don’t miss the opportunity to follow up.