Let me ask you something. When a visitor or newcomer comes to your church, how do you get their contact details?
Do you run up to them at the end of the service and scribble their phone number on a piece of paper? Do you hand out slips of paper asking them to fill out their contact details? Do you let visitors slip through your fingers, and just hope they’ll keep coming back?
Feel like listening instead of reading?
Lets use our imaginations:
Imagine you’ve been invited over to someone’s house, and you don’t really know anyone going, but you know the host a little and you’re interested in getting to know them more.
When you get to the party, no one greets you or talks to you, and you sit in a corner alone until you can’t bear it anymore, and you get up and leave to go home, feeling sad and a bit humiliated.
What if when you arrived at the party, instead of being ignored, one of the host’s friends came up and introduced themselves and a few of their friends, and you chatted for ages, shared some laughs and nibbles, and went home with your heart full. In the next day or two that person sends you a text saying how great it was to meet you, and hopefully they’ll see you at the next shindig.
You’d feel glad that you’d gone to the party, right? You might even go along to the next one, especially now that you know you’ve got a friend.
Follow up with church visitors is important, peeps! Now, let’s talk about how to do it!
Introducing, the Welcome Card system…
You might also know the welcome card as a connect card, prayer card, communications card, care card… or something similar.
I’m talking about the card that you hand out to church visitors to grab their contact details in a (hopefully!) non-creepy or invasive way.
Now, you might have a welcome card already, but do you have a system in place that will ensure that every visitor will receive and fill out your church’s welcome card?
1 | Simplify your card
Cut the unnecessary details from your welcome card. We don’t want this card to be a giant-government-esque need-to-know-everything card. We just want to know one way to best contact the visitor after the service, to let them know how much we appreciated them for coming along. That’s it.
The less details you ask for on a welcome or connection card, the more likely it is that someone will fill it out.
Here are some examples of super simple, but very effective welcome cards (the first asks for a little more information than the second):
Limiting to just asking for one or two things makes you seem less invasive, while also giving you what you need. Really, do you need to know how old they are, how many people are in their family, or how to spell their last name? At this stage, no.
The other good thing about a simple welcome card is how easy they are to design! You could even make yours by using a business card template on Canva! Or check out these brilliant free templates from Ryan at Ministry Voice.
2 | Decide on distribution
Figure out what will work best at your church to distribute the cards. Have a think about what systems are already in place! Where do you give out your print newsletter, if you have one? This might be a good place to start, however here are some ideas of how you can give out your welcome cards:
- At the door when guests are entering
- Left on each seat before the service (or in the back of your pews)
- On a ‘welcome’ table at the back of the church to be filled out after the service
- Distributed by designated ‘welcomers’ who are appointed to specifically notice newcomers and start a conversation with them
- Handed out with coffee after the service
- Distributed in a visitor welcome notice during the service
Be careful when deciding on distribution. Think about what the visitor might be feeling (most probably don’t want to be singled out during the service), or they might feel like they’re being watched if someone approaches them afterwards.
My preferred methods of distributing welcome cards are:
- At the door when guests are entering
- Left on each seat before the service
- You can make sure every person has a welcome card
- It is less invasive, as the visitor is not singled out, or eyeballed while they’re filling out the card
- They have the time and are sitting down (during the service)
- It takes the least effort for the visitor, and doesn’t rely on them doing anything after the service, or sticking around to check out the welcome area or coffee
- It makes it easier for you to collect them!
3 | Collection!
Collecting the cards will depend on how and when you distribute them, but here’s a couple of ideas:
- Ask visitors to place their welcome cards in the offering bag/bucket
- Ask them to place the card in a specific box in the foyer
- Give them to a member of the church (who will then need to put the card in a box elsewhere to keep them all contained)
4 | Other things to keep in mind
Some churches like to ask everyone in the congregation to fill out a welcome card, to make visitors feel more at ease. The only issue with this is the incredible cost to print that many welcome cards each week. It might be something to consider though! You could compromise and ask regular attendees to fill out a welcome card if they’ve noticed that they’re sitting near a visitor, to save you on printing but still make your visitor feel welcome.
5 | What next?
You might be wondering, now that I’ve got their contact details, how do I actually follow-up a visitor or newcomer? I’ve got another blog post on exactly that! Check it out here.
Create your own simple church welcome card, then implement a system at your church for collecting visitors' contact details!