How to Keep the Easter Momentum Going for Your Church
… By Having a Sufficient System for Follow Up
Because follow-up should be a slam dunk in your church!
Follow up is one of the most important systems in your church, but it’s something we too often leave unchecked. We hope people get connected. We hope they feel welcome. We hope they stay. But we don’t have the right systems in place to make this automatic.
Instead of hoping follow up happens, you need to create an intentional process. And like other systems in your church, these need to be simple, clear, and written down. Re- visit them from time to time, but set them in place and let them work.
The three most important areas where people need follow up are:
- New Christians
If you create intentional and effective strategies to follow up with guests, those who give for the first time, and those who pray to receive Christ, you will connect more people to the life of your church and make a bigger difference in your community.
Part One: Guest Follow-Up System
The Bible says that Jesus came to seek and save the lost, and that the angels in heaven rejoice when one sinner comes to repentance. The Gospel is the heart behind creating an environment where guests can receive God’s grace and mercy. We call this gospel hospitality. It’s not about wowing guests or making them comfortable, it’s about welcoming them into God’s family. Welcoming and following up with guests to your church isn’t just a growth strategy; it’s something we do to stay in step with God’s heart for people.
“Instead of hoping follow up happens, you need to create an intentional process.”
Before we can talk about specific follow up steps, we need to talk about your first time guest experience. This is a big deal, because follow up starts at the front door (or even the parking lot). Long before anyone welcomes people from the platform, you’ve created a positive or a negative environment for guests.
Here are some things we do to create a guest-friendly environment.
1. Choose music carefully.
We choose a blend of Christian and non-Christian music, and alternate between musical genres as well. Music really does set a tone. We choose positive non-Christian music in our playlists in order to communicate to people that we’re “normal.” There’s a written philosophy of per-service music in Docs and Forms.
2. Put friendly people in obvious places.
Not everyone is helpful and welcoming, so make sure you evaluate who is setting your tone. Try to put people who represent your demographic and church body in place. If your church is made up of all age groups, then don’t just have young people at the doors.
3. Teach every volunteer to stop what they are doing and help guests.
Those who work as greeters and ushers are key to creating a welcoming environment.
4. Make sure your signage is bold and clear.
Like many churches, we have names for some of our children’s environments. But a sign directing people to “The Ocean” (the name of our environment for babies) doesn’t mean a thing to a first time guest. Feel free to use creative names, but make sure your signage has clear descriptions.
Following up with guests begins at the front door, but it continues throughout the worship service. It’s obvious to some, but many pastors take too many things for granted.
Consider how you would feel if you visited a Buddhist Temple or a Mosque. Would you know what to wear? Would you know what to do in the service? How would you feel if everyone intrinsically knew to stand during certain parts of the service?
You’ve got to look at your service through the eyes of a first time guests. Here are some ways that you can make sure your service (and your preaching) is guest friendly.
1. Welcome guests.
The welcome is one of the most critical elements in our services. It’s a personal time when someone from our church welcomes people, mostly
guests, to the service. A typical welcome lasts about ninety seconds to two minutes and helps set the tone for the entire service. The welcome should contain the following three elements:
The welcome begins with a personal introduction and a general welcome. Choose a pastor, staff member or even a volunteer, and let them introduce themselves and welcome everyone to church. Never put someone on stage who doesn’t introduce themselves. Acknowledge that there are new people in the service and welcome them.
During the welcome, we let guests know that we have a special gift for them. Creating a gift for guests is a simple, yet effective way to communicate value to guests. When you let them know that you have something prepared for them, you show (not just tell) them that they were expected and welcomed. You went out of your way to prepare for them.
As a side note, this is why we use the term “guests” instead of “visitors.” You prepare for guests, while visitors are often unexpected.
In the early days of our church, our gift for guests was a $.59 brown gift bag with a few handouts about the church and a candy bar. As we began to see more and more value in this, we included other things like water bottles or t-shirts printed with our logo …
This is an excerpt from the eBook NEXT: Follow-Up with Guests, New Christians, and First-Time Givers.
Download the entire eBook (a $29 value) for free here, and start mastering follow-up in your church.