7 Effective Ways to Follow Up with Church Visitors

7 Effective Ways to Follow Up with Church Visitors

Aaron Buer

Digital giving apps and tools

It seems like most churches fall into one of two categories when it comes to following up with visitors.

The first type of church acts like they only get one visitor every ten years. They are franticly friendly and smother visitors. When you visit this church you find yourself race walking to the exit because all the attention is a little overwhelming.

The second type of church acts like they couldn’t care less. You almost feel guilty visiting that church because you can just tell that you’re in someone’s chair and they’re super mad about it.

I admit that these examples are a little over the top but also, not that far from the truth. How we follow up with visitors is important. It is often the difference between growing and not growing.

So, how do we effectively follow up with visitors? I have a few ideas.

1. A Simple Connect Card

Step one is collecting information. How do you even know if you had a visitor? Most churches have some sort of connect card or a guest card. I would recommend calling it a connect card so that anyone from the congregation feels free to fill it out.

One mistake we often make is asking for too much on these connect cards. Make it simple. The goal of this card isn’t to collect every piece of information you would ever need but rather to gather the information you need to initiate a conversation.

Here's what I might recommend as a starting place:


2. Talk to Guests Every Week

Following up with visitors begins in the weekend service. Talk to them. Thank them for coming. Tell them they’re welcome at your church. Invite them to fill out the connect card and initiate a conversation. Offer them a simple next step. Follow up begins in the service.

To do this well, identify who should interact with those guests (more on this on #6 below) and when and where they should be.  Is there a welcome desk this person should be at?  Does it make sense for them to take the first 5 minutes before each service to identify new people by sight and introduce themselves?

While this looks different in different churches, my encouragement to you is to somehow make sure you have a systematic process (i.e. consistent and repeatable) in place so that visitors to your church are likely to be interacted with in a personal and friendly manner.

3. Preach to Guests Every Week

While we’re on the topic of the weekend service, if you’re a teaching pastor in your church, consider preaching to your guests. When you open the Bible, explain it as if someone in the room is new to the experience.

I've had the gift of learning from a pastor who does this remarkably well as Jeff Manion is a master of helping unchurched people understand the Bible. Here's a quick snippet (6 min 37 sec) from a sermon where he does this.

Also, take a page from Andy Stanley and invite guests to give your preaching application a try.


Image provided by @QuotingAndy

Andy often says something like this:

“Even if you aren’t a Christian give this a try. I’m confident that it will make your life better whether or not you believe in Jesus because this principle simply works.”

4. Invite Them to Coffee

Relationships are one of the most powerful tools you have in order to show people that you care about them. As a result, a simple invitation to grab coffee with a new visitor can go a long ways. Something like:


While in many cases the person reaching out would be the pastor, it doesn't need to be.

If your church is at a size where the pastor isn't able to keep up with this or, if you'd prefer a male meet with male visitors and a female meet with female visitors, recruiting other staff members or key volunteers to join in this effort can be incredibly strategic as well as showing your visitors how much you personally care about them.

5. Send Guests a Note

If a guest actually puts their home address on your connect card, don’t (just) send them an email. Send them a hand-written note. It’s thoughtful, personal, and in this era of digital communication, snail mail feels genuinely special.


6. Choose the Right People

It’s important to choose the right people to be on your follow up team. These individuals should have a great understanding of hospitality. They should be fantastic listeners. They should be people who love your church and are genuinely warm and caring people.

Follow up often fails because the wrong people are doing the follow up.

This might even be true of the pastor. For example, I’m the primary communicator in our student ministry but I’m not super friendly, especially one-on-one, with people I don’t know. There are people on my team who are fantastic in these areas and they are the ones who do follow up in our ministry.

Once you have the right people on your follow up team, commission them to make the calls, send the emails, write the letters and make the visits.

If you need some help recruiting volunteers for roles like this, our previous post on finding and recruiting volunteers may be helpful.

7. Look to Serve

The biggest difference between churches that follow up well and churches that do not is attitude. Churches that follow up well genuinely want to serve people. When they connect with guests they aren’t thinking:

“This family will make our church bigger!”

Rather, they are thinking:

“What does this family need? How can we help?”

So, as you follow up, be looking for ways to serve, even if that means pointing the person or family to a church down the road that specializes in their particular need.

With a number of these techniques, assigning specific tasks to specific people can be helpful, for instance letting Sarah know there were two visitors this weekend she should reach out to and connect with.

Church management tools can go a long ways in helping simplify processes like this. For instance at Breeze Church Management, we have a "Follow Ups" tool designed just for this purpose, alerting people that they need to follow up with someone and giving leaders a way to see a "paper trail" of those follow ups.

Here's a quick video of how it works if you're curious:

I hope these techniques will help make your church an even more welcoming place for first time guests. Are there any techniques that have been particularly effective in your own church? I'd love to hear about them in the comments below.

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