Start your follow-up efforts during the guest's first visit.
No matter how wonderful your follow-up plan is, unless she was warmly welcomed during her visit, she will not be impressed. It is important to train your entire group to intentionally welcome visitors. Each guest should be greeted warmly by several regulars, and she should never be left alone: Someone needs to adopt her for the evening.
Also, before she leaves, it is imperative that you get contact information so you have the opportunity to follow-up. Here are some ideas that have worked successfully for groups:
- Create a welcome brochure or info packet to give to each guest upon arrival. Include a card for them to fill out on which they can indicate their family and contact information.
- Circulate an attendance roster (where regulars just sign in, but newcomers fill out basic contact info at the bottom of the page). Key to success: Regulars MUST sign, modeling that behavior for newcomers.
- Find some gals with the gift of hospitality to serve as guest hostesses. Have them watch for new gals to be-friend, and before the guest leaves the building, have the hostess invite her to the next event and offer to take her out for lunch or dessert afterward. Get her contact details and prior to the next event, make a personal call. Key to success: Focus on the fellowship and not the food!
Recruit a follow-up coordinator.
This organized person will be responsible to keep good records. This can be handled through a simple excel worksheet or you could purchase computer software designed for this purpose. Numerous options exist and are easy to find if you do a Google search for "Church Membership Tools."
Employ Proverbs 18:16.
"A gift opens the way for the giver" and you'd be wise to bring a gift to your first-time guests. Call ahead and ask if someone could stop by briefly* to bring a gift. Here are some gift ideas:
- homemade pie from church freezer stock
- a loaf of fresh bread and some jam
- gift bag w/ church fridge magnet
- inspirational book
- copy of church directory
- candy-filled mug (with church/group logo)
- DVD of the ministry
Simplify Your Follow-Up Systems
The First Church of the Nazarene, in Kansas City, KS, takes the hassle out of handling personal visits. One group of volunteers bakes goodies and organizes them with recipient names and addresses on a table in the foyer. Table sections are labeled by zip codes or neighborhoods. Each section contains the tagged gift bags/boxes for that area plus matching city map.
As Wednesday night worshippers leave the building, they stop by the table and take the goodies so they can deliver them to people who live near them on their way home. Volunteers simply drop off the boxes, unless they are invited in. After the visit, the delivery volunteer fills out and returns a comment form to the coordinator, so the team can determine which homes did not yet receive a gift (if not home) and what steps to take next.
Drop a Line
Someone from the group could send a handwritten or typed note, or request a friend/follow at the guest's favorite social networking site.
Host a Low Key Welcome Party
Karen Marie's group from Peoria, Illinois, sends the visitor a special invitation to the following meeting or event. The guest is invited to come 20 minutes before the meeting, to have coffee, cake or cookies with some of the leadership team. Time is taken to make introductions and welcome each one, but guests are not asked to join a committee or anything like that. It's just a time to fellowship in earnest and to serve some goodies. They have found that 15-20 minutes is plenty of time to make them comfortable and answer any questions they may have.
Actions often speak louder than words, and as your group works together to extend loving gestures toward each guest, they will experience Agape Love: the compelling love that makes them hungry for more. And, for some gals, this may be the first time that a stranger has truly loved them without requiring repayment of any kind.
Marnie Swedberg is the Women's Ministry Leadership Mentor via her online hub athttp://www.marnie.com, where you will enjoy many free and low-fee resources, connections, and training opportunities to help you reach your full potential in Christ, both in your ministry and your own life.