Let’s imagine this Sunday, a lovely couple named Julie and Brent come to visit your church. They’re interested in coming back next week, so you grab their email address, and spend 2 hours the following day crafting the PERFECT email to send to them to follow up on their visit. You detail the church’s values, ministries, regular events, and anything else you think of that you think they should know.
A week later, the Smith family of 5 comes to visit your church, and they’re interested in knowing more, so you take down their phone number, address, and email, just so that you can be 100% sure you can contact them.
You spend 30mins the next day deciding whether you should call, text, email, or visit them to let them know about the church (after all, there are 5 people in the mix, so you don’t want to let them slip through your fingers!)
You ring them twice (takes about 20mins) and they don’t answer, so you then spend 2 hours crafting the PERFECT email to the Smiths, telling them all about the church’s values, ministries, regular events, and anything else you can think of.
See a pattern?
Feel like listening instead of reading?
I know that was a long story, but I wanted to share this with you:
You have spent 290 minutes in 2 weeks doing the same thing. (That’s 4 hours and 45 minutes)
4 hours + 45 minutes you could have spent in an actual conversation with someone
4 hours + 45 minutes you could have spent learning and teaching from the Bible
4 hours + 45 minutes you could have spent planning new and exciting things for your church
But instead you were writing an email.
Imagine if people just kept visiting your church? The follow up would be time consuming and exhausting. And, on top of everything else, you can imagine how a pastor might burn out.
That’s why, as small churches, it is paramount that you have a visitor-follow-up system in place.
And if you haven’t got one, don’t stress, because that’s what we’re on about today.
Let’s use that 4 hours and 45 minutes, once, and once only, to write 3 personal emails that will be sent automatically to your church newcomers.
Step 1 | Collecting the details
First, you’ll need a system in place to collect visitors’ email addresses. A lot of churches use a ‘Care Card’ or ‘Welcome Card’ during the service that people can fill out with their details. You don’t need to ask their family history or age, just keep it simple and make sure you get down a minimum of the person’s name, and their best email address.
Step 2 | Email service provider
You’ll need an email service provider to send out your emails automatically. This means that once you add someone’s email address to your list, they’ll get the emails that we’re going to set up next sent to them on autopilot. You can set these up to be sent straight away, or you could say to send them 3 days (or however many you like) after they signed up!
Essentially, you can send them a series of emails so they’re not bombarded with a ton of info all at once.
There are hundreds of email service providers out there that will send out emails for you, but here are a couple to check out if you’re just getting started:
Step 3 | Write those emails!
The beauty of sending automated emails is that you can send information in bite-sized pieces, so that busy people can quickly get to know you a little more each day.
To start off with, I recommend adding 3 generic (but conversational and friendly) emails to your automated email sequence.
EMAIL 1 | Welcome!
Start off just by welcoming them! Here’s some things you can add to your welcome email to give your visitors or newcomers a virtual high-five:
Let them know how excited you were to spot them at church on Sunday
Let them know you’ll send them some more info about your church over the next few days
Ask them to reply to your email if they have any questions they’d like answered
And that’s it for the welcome message!
You could ask people to do a lot more (ie. like your Facebook page, check out your website, sign up for a study group) but the idea of the welcome email is to ask for nothing from the person. People don’t like to be hounded, and you definitely want to avoid this in your first email to your new visitors!
EMAIL 2 | Church values and beliefs
This is where you can start letting your newcomers know a little bit more about your church. Once again, we don’t want to expect anything from the person, we want to just share more with them. Make sure you imagine that the person you’re writing to knows nothing about God, Christianity or Church. You don’t want to appear patronising, but you also want to make sure you explain yourself clearly to anyone who might be reading.
Here’s some things you can include:
Your church mission statement
Quick description of your views on God and the Bible (this is a tough one to break down, but make it quick friends, or you’ll lose your readers!)
Who is welcome at your church
Where you see your church heading in 5 years
What your church focuses on (ie. evangelism, families, social justice, gifts of the Spirit)
Again, ask them to reply to your email if they have any questions (or you could even ask them what they believe, or what they look for in a church)
EMAIL 3 | What’s happening at your church
So now you’ve built a little more of a relationship with your newcomer over the last two emails, now you can let them know what you’ve got going on at the church, and how they can be involved!
This is so important for visitors, because they might be interested in your ministries, but not sure how to sign up for a Bible study, or who to talk to if they want to come to the men’s breakfast.
The ball is ALWAYS in your court with newcomers, so make sure you let them know exactly what they need to do to be involved (I recommend that you say ‘hit reply to this email if you’d like me to contact the appropriate people to get you involved!’). Remember, if you tell a newcomer to ‘approach someone after the service’, they’re almost guaranteed not to, because they likely don’t know anyone.
So, without further ado, here’s what you can include in this email:
Just thought I’d let you know about…
Info on adult ministries available
Courses or studies you’re currently running (though you want to make sure this information is always up-to-date in your email automations)
Kids + youth ministry info
Bible studies/small groups they can be a part of
Sunday service info
Ask them to reply with the ministries they’re interested in!
Don’t forget to thank them for their time reading your emails too :)
Step 4 | Automate your new emails!
Add your newly written emails to your email service provider, and set them up so that:
Email 1 will be sent on the Monday after they visit
Email 2 will be sent on the Wednesday
- Email 3 will be sent on the Friday
You can also use ‘Merge tags’ in your email service provider to automatically add the person’s first name into your emails to give them that personal touch.
STEP 5 | (Optional) Add to your newsletter
If you’re sending an email newsletter to your church members, you could add a fourth email to your email sequence asking if they’d like to be added to your newsletter list! Then you can keep in touch with them on a weekly basis.
And that’s it!
Schedule a morning or afternoon THIS WEEK to write your 3 emails and add them to your email service provider.