November 30, 2006

Developing Great Follow-up

I have been doing a lot of thinking about the process of making people feel welcome and following-up on their visit; especially as it applies to a small church or church plant. I have been reading the Church Hop Blog, (I blogged about them here.) and I attended the Church Planting For Dummies Conference in Indianapolis. I have also been inspired by Seth Godin's post of follow-up.

I believe that smaller churches and church plants have to build on their strength which is relationships. So here are some things I want to include in my follow-up procedure for the new church I will be planting:

1. Follow-up begins with a good welcome and a great atmosphere. I plant to create a relaxed, casual atmosphere. Coffee, good music, casual dress, but also a welcoming team that treats people like they are being welcomed into their home. I also want to provide adequate information about the church so that people don't have to search for the information they need. This also means having an informative and constantly updated webpage.

2. An opportunity to meet the pastor. This goes to a commitment to building relationships and being approachable as the pastor. At the end of the service I want to invite people to the front (or some where else in the facility) to meet me on a personal basis. I will have to work on remembering names.

3. A handwritten note. No form letters. I know this may be tough as we grow, but I think this adds a personal touch that they will not get anywhere else. If I met them following the service, I will try to include anything we spoke about.

4. A gift card. I would like to include a gift card as a special thank you. Our church will be a church that exhibits generosity, and this extends to our visitors.

5. An invitation to a visitor's welcome meeting. Every month or every-other month we will hold a reception for visitors to check out the vision and direction of our church. We will hold this off-site (being offsite gives us the opportunity to build relationships with local vendors as well) and food will be included. At this meeting they will also learn about our membership meeting, opportunities for serving, and small groups.

6. A personal phone call. This will be visitor-focused, and will not address anything we do.

I am sure there is more than can be done. Do you have any additional steps that could help with follow-up? What do you do for follow-up in your church?

9 comments:

  1. You might want to check out this at ridge stone

    http://www.ridgestonebackstage.com/?p=49

    same thoughts

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  2. Carl,

    Thanks for the comment. I read that a long time ago, but forgot about it. Thanks for the reminder.

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  3. Hi! It's Erica (from Church Hop). Just wanted to add a note about the "gift card" thing-- and this is completely a personal thing-- I received a gift card at one of the churches we hopped, and it made me feel kind of... weird. Like, obligated to come back?

    When I go to a church I don't expect to be given anything (tangible, anyway), and while I know my case is slightly different than most people's, I don't want to feel like the church is trying to buy me instead of focusing on why I'm really there.

    My favorite church swag was probably when I saw free Bibles-- it was a gift that I would have appreciated, and it felt relevant to me. It was a gift for my journey, not a bribe.

    I'm not saying what's right or what's wrong... just weighing in. :)

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  4. Erica,

    Thanks for your comment. I never thought of it like that. I merely thought of it as a way to say thank you.

    Here is where I got that from. A business that I work with on a regular basis sent me a gift card as way to say thank you. I felt very impressed (although I know they probably do that for everyone) that they would add that little touch.

    I would not want a person to feel weird or obligated in any way. Thanks for the insight. What have you found to be the best follow-up from the churches you visited? Follow-up that made you feel welcomed, accepted, but not obligated to come back?

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  5. The key to what you just said was a BUSINESS. Yeah, you might expect some kind of gift like that from a business... at least, I would. And while a church can be seen as a type of business, that's not really what you think when you visit one.

    I hate using words like "best" but the "best" follow-up I ever got (read: the one I remembered first) was a CD. It had religious music on it, nothing more. That might be a good way to show your generosity-- it obviously cost someone time and money to put together, but it's still relevant to the church and to me, conveys thanks but not bribery.

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  6. I think this shows how once you are in the church for a while you begin to see things differently. I would never have seen this as a bribe, nor would I have thought someone would take it that way.

    It is very good to have your viewpoint.

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  7. "Bribe" wasn't the best word to use, I'm sure. Please don't take it as more than one girl's opinion.

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  8. I didn't mean that badly. If that was your perception, then I would imagine you are not alone. I am sure there might be some things to soften the feelings like explaining it in the note that this is just a way to say thank-you with no strings attached. But your opinion here is valid. If you feel that way, then someone else might feel that way. It at least points to the need for better explanation as to why it is included if it is done.

    At the Vineyard, at least at this one, we do what we call Servant Evangelism. We go out and do acts of kindness to show people that God loves them. Free cokes, bottled water, clean toilets at business, coffee and donuts to shoppers on Black Friday, etc. We do give out a business card that explains that what they are receiving is a "free gift with no strings attached." The Dayton Vineyard has a reputation for serving and loving people no matter who they are or where they come from.

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  9. You're definitely on a good track-- I had a great experience once with a group like that, which was handing out... packs of gum, maybe? The item didn't matter as much as the idea that they were giving it out to be nice for nice's sake, not to impress someone or please someone or be "more Christian" than another church. That is incredibly important to me.

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