Our family was the first time church visitor as a result of moving our home office to the state of Florida.
We visited a few churches around our new little area of Port St. Lucie.
Since we have no church going friends in this city, we are dependent upon advertisements and the internet to find a church.
I have written before about different ways to follow up on church visitors, but want to share with you some current life experiences of followup letters.
We filled out church visitor cards.
I filled out a few church visitor cards. They came
- attached to the bulletin as a tear off,
- a pew card specifically announced by the service leader,
- one handed to us by the church usher.
Each of these manners to collect visitor contact information are good practices.
I prefer a separate stand alone card in a seat pocket or pew rack, rather than a tear off because of the ripping noise. I am not a fan of the registration books that are passed down the aisle, but these are personal preferences.
What happened with our visitor card?
From three of the four churches, we received a follow up letter in the mail.
We received a Dunkin Donuts gift card and a Chik Fil A coupon as thank you gifts.
One church did nothing.
One church sent a form letter from the pastor, but also a hand written thank you note.
One church pastor called us and invited us to his house for lunch.
Three of the four churches made an attempt to follow up using the information they received from us on the card.
- Church A sent a letter, a hand written thank you note, a Chik-Fil-A thank you gift.
- Church B sent a letter, a personal phone call from pastor.
- Church C sent a letter and a Dunkin Donuts gift card.
- Church D sent nothing.
A review of follow up letters.
Of the follow up letters we received from three of the four churches, one letter really caught our attention. If I were to rank them in order of attention grabbing, this would be number 1.
Follow Up Letter Number 1.
The best letter came from Church A. Their visitor follow up letter was beyond the generic fluff that says “Thanks for visiting, we hope you had a good time . . if you have any questions call us . . blah, blah, blah.”
This particular church visitor letter told us about the upcoming Pastor’s Luncheon. It mentioned there is no cost, and that all the food would be home cooked. It clearly described the date, the time, and the location and personal invitation to attend.
The church visitor letter also introduced us to some of the mid week programming. The strength of their description is how it might benefit our family. They went beyond the invitation to come and focused instead on why we might want to adjust our busy schedule to start participating in their mid-week programming.
The visitor letter from the church concluded with an invitation to come again the following Sunday for the next sermon in the particular series.
Follow Up Letter Number 2
Church B sent a visitor follow up letter that described the congregation as a family. We were invited to become a part of it. The letter told us a little about the church’s particular mission and purpose in the community. This church visitor letter reminded us of the Sunday service times and a personal invitation to come again.
Church B also has a monthly Pastor’s luncheon at the Pastor’s house with a home cooked meal. While the letter from Church B did not mention that invitation at all, we did receive a personal phone call from the Pastor himself inviting us to his house for lunch with other first time visitors.
We enjoyed lunch with him and his wife. I found it interesting at this lunch that the other first time couple making this lunch had already volunteered to cook it. They had made the decision to get involved in this church after the first Sunday.
Follow Up Letter Number 3
The final letter we received from Church C served no real purpose for us and read like a biography of the pastor. It stressed his qualifications and reminded us that we visited. We did appreciate the Dunkin Donuts gift card
As I read the letter, I could not tell anything about the church or it’s ministries, or even why they might want us to return.
One church really used their connection card.
Out of the four connection cards we filled out, only two churches used that information more than once, with additional follow up contact that felt appropriate and timely.
Church A, which sent us a letter to the Pastor’s Luncheon, also sent a hand written thank you note card. That extra effort has continued to ease us into their community life.
Church A also sent a second letter inviting us to the Pastor’s luncheon and also gave us a phone call of invitation. These may have been triggered by a record of our repeat visit, but none the less, it was a gentle and non intrusive follow up.
We attended the Pastor’s Luncheon where we learned a little about the church. It was a simple affair, and the pastor was very clear about the simple next step to get involved.
One church did nothing
Church D made no effort to send us a follow up letter, make a phone call, or make any attempt to follow up with us a first time visitor. In spite of no letter, we will never forget the church greeter there.
However, about two weeks ago, we did receive our first written communication from Church D. It was a short letter that simply asked
Are you still attending our church?
If not, we will delete you. If you are, please let us know.
My family found it odd that the church that never made any effort to invite us back took the time to mail us a letter that we would be deleted.
Your church visitor follow up letter
My suggestion would be to include the following items.
- A thank you for attending.
- A simple next step to invite them to meet other people
- An invitation to the next sermon in the series.
- A thank you and personal invitation to contact you or another pastor on staff.
You might invite them to
- A monthly pastors lunch
- A volunteer project in the community.
- Your midweek supper to meet new friends
Whatever you invite your first time guests to, make sure it is a simple clear step that is easy to follow.
No matter what your next step is, your church visitor may not know. Find ways to communicate that next step for your first time church visitors. Do not assume that they will know.
If you send a follow up letter, what do you say? Share some of your ideas in the comments below.