In today’s episode, we unpack nine visitor follow-up hacks that will help your church grow.
Healthy churches know that every visitor is a gift from the Lord, but many churches do not have a well-designed follow-up process that helps turn visitors into fully committed members.
Nailing that process down is one of the most important things that leaders can do to help their churches thrive.
We hope this conversation helps you reach more people the right way.
9 Church Visitor Followup Hacks To Help Your Church Grow
- Incentivize Visitor Information
- Formalize Your Process
- Build An Email Sequence
- Use Text Messages
- Make A Phone Call
- Follow Up Before They Show Up
- Have One Clear Onramp
- Make It Personal
- Verify The Process
Thomas Costello 00:00:00 In today’s episode, we unpack nine visitor followup packs that will help your church grow healthy churches know that every visitor is a gift from the Lord, but many churches do not have a well-designed follow up process that helps turn visitors into fully committed members. And nailing that process down is one of the most important things that leaders can do to help their churches thrive. We hope this conversation helps you reach people the right way.
Thomas Costello 00:01:04 Welcome to the REACHRIGHT podcast episode number 14, I am your host Thomas Costello. And with me as always is my cohost in higher Hyatt. Hey, how’s it going? Thomas Cohen, goodie. And looking forward to our conversation today, we got a fun one. We’re talking about the nine church visitor followup packs to help grow your church. I think this is something that’s really important for churches to hone in on all the time, not just in the pandemic season. I know a lot of our content has been pandemic related, but this is a, this is some secret sauce I think for churches in all seasons is getting this stuff. Right. So I think people are just excited to hear something for all seasons, not just pandemic season. I know we are normal. We can get on these things the better. So, yeah, that’s exactly right. So, um, yeah, I, I know for people ask me sometimes about, my ministry background and, how things went in the last church that I pastored.
Thomas Costello 00:02:01 I pastored a church in Madison, Wisconsin, and we saw pretty tremendous growth there. And they asked kind of what, what we felt like we did well to see that happen. And I was just telling someone the other day, um, you know, I think we did a few things right on the marketing side. Obviously the teaching was world-class at the church that I was pastoring, but now when I came up there and <inaudible> exploded after that, it was, it was monumental growth. But if I felt like we did anything really right. To help the church, not just see lots of visitors. Cause I think we did a good job with that, but to see people stick, it was really honing in on our visitor followup processes, the church and in my experience, and you can probably testify this too, is that a lot of churches neglect this?
Thomas Costello 00:02:49 Like they, this is something that I think we hear the most when we’re talking to our clients, they’ll tell us about, um, just what some of their strategies and things, and then we’ll ask them as we’re going, maybe a website strategy call what their followup process looks like. And how many times do we hear? Like, you know, that’s something we’re still kind of ironing out. Yeah. It’s a work in progress with that stuff. And so I think we’ve just honed a really good list of some ways that churches can hack that, to make it something more effective. And the goal of this is to take visitors just doesn’t make visitors, but I think it could take the visitors that you’re getting and make them stickier. That’s the goal behind these things is it turns visitors that come, which are precious already. It turns them into people that are more likely to stick around at your church.
Thomas Costello 00:03:33 Nelson Searcy, he played a big part in some of the things that I think about this now. I, what kind of follow some of his systems when I was younger in ministry. And he says, it’s important that we think of every visitor as if they were a gift from God themselves, that visitors don’t just come to the door and they truly are gifts and how we steward them in these kinds of processes and systems and how we do follow up. I think it really is vital. So good conversation I think for us to have. So let me kick us off the first one. And I arguably the most important, and I think some churches missed this, but you have to incentivize visitor information. You have to incentivize give people a reason to give you their information. So you can start off this visitor followup process and churches have known this forever ever since I’ve been a part of a church when I was a kid, we always would ask visitors to fill out some kind of a form. Um, back in the day, you remember how we used to churches were much more open to embarrassing visitors back in the day, right? And you remember that,
Ian Hyatt 00:04:39 I bet of that embarrassment. You just reminded me. I, one time was visiting and we were in between churches in a season praying for our next church and visiting churches. And I remembered it was actually a fairly large church. When I say large, it was not small. It was probably about 300, 350 people. And, and and at the very end of it, the pastor just called me up to the very front and, gave me a hug in front of the car, the whole congregation. It was a bit awkward.
Thomas Costello 00:05:06 Good luck on your first you’re
Ian Hyatt 00:05:08 First visit. Yeah. First Sunday visit and you know, front of 350 people gives me a hug. Thank you. But I don’t know you yet.
Thomas Costello 00:05:17 I’ll remember the first time when you and I went to a church together when we were visiting a church and we got called out in a prophetic word, not us directly, but the quality of our wives I remember is what they said, who were with us at the time, but a prophetic word about the quality of wife we’d had so humorous and that he also, I think, prophesied a keyboard anointing on me, I think is what he said.
Ian Hyatt 00:05:41 We keep voting, he meant podcast. It just got messed up a little.
Thomas Costello 00:05:44 Yeah. So it probably did. So anyway, a bit of a diversion, but we used to really make visitors stick out like a sore thumb. And we want to advise against that now, but you still need to find a way to capture people’s information. So the days of having all your visitors stand up here in Hawaii, what a lot of churches used to do is they would give visitors lays, so that they would, you know, it was kind of a symbol of honor. And I get what they’re doing behind that. It is beautiful to receive a Lei, but then you’re there for the first time and you’re wearing this giant floral thing around your neck. And so you stick out to everybody and everybody knows you’re there for the first time. And I think most visitors don’t want that, but, and honestly, most visitors don’t want to give away their information.
Thomas Costello 00:06:27 If we’re being really honest about this is I am very protective of that personally. I know when I’m surfing the web or if I go anywhere, I don’t like filling out things. Every time I go to a new grocery store having to give all my information to get onto their, their secret club and are more cautious with their information than ever before right now. So if you think that you can just ask people to give you their email address and phone number and home address, and they’ll just do it out of the, this obligation of being a first time visitor. I think you’re going to get very few responses to that. You really need to give it some kind of incentive. So, well, I dunno, what, what does your church do or what have you heard as far as incentives that churches offered to get information?
Ian Hyatt 00:07:11 Yeah, absolutely. And I totally agree with you. I think that, that your first point of just the people are sensitive and giving their information out even more so these days, but, um, you know, so I think that, you know, we have to be strategic with this, right? So incentives, you know, I know my church, one of the things that we’ve done for a long time and it works well for us is that, and being in the Texas heat where it’s hot here for even more than just the summer months, we give out a nice little, not a, not a Yeti or anything that expensive, but basically like a, a water, carrot with a carabiner thing. So it’s kind of like a water cooler thing. And, and, and, you know, we make it clear to them, to it, you know, and this is like when they’re, when we’re in person and they’re visiting and we’re doing our announcements and asking them to fill out their like guests greeting card, we make it clear to them too, that, Hey, listen, we’re not going to hound you or show up at your door or anything like that.
Ian Hyatt 00:08:05 We just want to know how we can continue to pray and help you get plugged in. And, and, and then we, we have them go to the guest center to, to receive that gift. Now, as we’re in this season of, of also people watching online, some of the neat things that we’ve seen, some churches that we work with do Thomas and his send, you know, someone like, I know one church did a neat thing where they sent, anyone who visited online and felt filled out like a response form. They sent them like a branded box with like a church tee shirt and like a coffee mug. And it had like a pen. And, you know, obviously certain churches are gonna put a little more into it than others, and you always have to go that far with it. Those are some things we’ve seen. I’ve seen my church do in other churches do something similar to and churches that are when they’re doing it with online visitors as well. Yeah. All kinds of swag
Thomas Costello 00:08:56 Swag is always great because it has that kind of recurring top of mind thing that goes on, we did video, gift cards to local coffee shops and said, you know, Hey, this is a gift card for you, but in the future, we’d love to get some coffee. And, you know, we, we kind of introduce things that way. And, um, I think that that was worked. I saw another church. What they did was they, they offered visitors, to get a, the gate. They would give a $10 donation to another charity that did work in the community, in the name of their visitor. Just write back to us and let us know what charity that is. So I can’t verify whether that worked well or not. I don’t know if that’s something that is incentive enough, but the point here is that you have to give someone a reason to do that. and that’s really what allows you to kick off your followup process. so, um, yeah, I think incentivizing it is important. Yeah.
Ian Hyatt 00:09:46 And that’s a good segue. I think into the second point we have here that all introduces to when you have this process in place, let’s formalize your, your process with it. So make, make your process with this followup consistent. And there’s several reasons why that’s going to be beneficial. So you should probably sit down as a team and think about what the best process is. So that you’re not just trying something different from week to week, because then it’s going to get confusing for visitors and your volunteers and staff alike. So when you formalize something and you have something consistent, it’s also going to help you measure it. I think better ongoing. Cause you’re going to have one thing that you’re doing. Everyone can get behind it. And it’s clear to staff volunteers, cause let’s face it. Obviously churches are mostly relying on a lot of churches on volunteers. They don’t, unless you’re a large mega sized church, you don’t have just staff for all of this stuff. So if you’re always changing it up and volunteers are often in and out, you know, as far as their consistency will, then you’re not gonna have anything set in place for moving forward.
Thomas Costello 00:10:50 Yeah. I think formalizing, it does a couple of things. It helps you to get the same level of followup to everybody. And I kind of get the idea that, um, and I understand why people think this, that I want to let the Holy spirit be involved in this process. And I want to, prayerfully consider everybody that comes. And, but I’ve just found that yes, certainly do that. But I think we serve a God. That’s the God of order. I think having, having a process that is formalized and written down and say, this is what we do for everybody. It’s good because it keeps you consistent and it really lets you scale. And we found this to be the case when I took the church that I was pastoring in Wisconsin, what we saw, you know, one visitor family a month maybe. And over time we grew to seeing eight, 10, 15 visitors a weekend sometimes.
Thomas Costello 00:11:40 And so we saw a lot of people that we had to put through this process. And if I, I could handle one family a month, just kind of prayerfully considering how to follow up with each person on our team could do that. But by the end, when we had people involved, like you were saying before, and we were getting 10 or 15 people every single week, filling out these cards, well, without something specific to fall back on to, to know exactly what we do each step of the way, it would have been impossible to give everybody the kind of care and the kind of followup that we would want to, especially remembering that these are gifts from the Lord when we think of visitors that way. So I think formalizing is really important that way. So yeah.
Ian Hyatt 00:12:17 And let me, Hey, like you said, Oh, one last thing with that, if the Holy spirit does tell you to give someone a different gift or something, then you should do it. But again, he’s a God of order.
Thomas Costello 00:12:27 Yeah, absolutely. And this is not, we want to keep space for that. And that’s great. And I, I think, yeah, certainly include prayer in your process, formalized stuff that I’m going to spend time praying for each one of these visitors that came in the door that we’d be able to help them on their path and get closer to Jesus. And so yeah, you can absolutely include that in formalize it. So number three, let me hit that is, I think it’s so important now that every church in their visitor followup process, that they build an email sequence. And let me give some background for those that maybe don’t know, or don’t use this. An email sequence is something that you can use that automatically sends emails at specific intervals after somebody has in this case, showed up to a service for the first time, or they let you know they were there in an online service, but that you would have a sequence of emails that would go out over a period of time to kind of hone and build that relationship and start to get them more and more familiar with the church and helping them take that next step and getting plugged in.
Thomas Costello 00:13:26 So for most churches, it’ll probably look something like an email on Monday that would go out from the pastor that would be prewritten, um, that you could have this ready to go. And then another one that maybe goes out the middle of that week, talking about how I’m excited to see you this Sunday. Again, here’s the sermon topic we’re going to be speaking about. Hey, I’d love to catch you and shake your hand and meet you for the first time this Sunday. So let’s make a point in doing that. And then, maybe after that second Sunday, and then after a third, Sunday, and then maybe a fifth email, so it would keep going, but there’d be a system of emails that go out all on their own and it just kind of nurtures these people and helps them to take that next step that you want them to take in their discipleship process. I think that’s really something that’s important for churches. What do you think?
Ian Hyatt 00:14:14 I agree. And I think for maybe one of the pastors or ministry leaders listening to this, you know, it could be in the back of their mind, knows that, you know, hounding them too much or, or, you know, putting too much pressure on them. I do think we should be careful, you know, in the verbiage of the emails and, and, you know, obviously all of that, but I think the way to think of it as it shows these people that you care about seeing them again and, and, you know, and if they don’t want you emailing them, they’ll let you know. But I think if you’re strategic and you’re just genuine in your emails about, you know, in the messaging of your emails and everything, that it won’t come off that way. So I think it just shows that you care the more, I think we’ve seen, not just with email marketing or anything else, marketing is probably not the right word to use what we’re talking about as far as reaching visitors, but it’s in there a little bit, but yeah, but I think that the more we see that you reach out to someone that it’s more effective than not doing it.
Thomas Costello 00:15:06 Yeah. No, anybody that’s running an organization nowadays, especially one that’s trying to go more and more digital, which I think all churches should be doing. You’re going to email people that don’t want to hear from you at some point that just happens. I mean, w we have a list of several thousand churches that we write to every single week and we hear from one or two of them a week that say, I don’t want to hear from you anymore. And that’s just part of the part of business. Every organization is that way, the larger your church is, and the bigger your reach, the more you’re going to hear those kinds of things. And you need to be okay with that. You can certainly, I know when it’s a small church. Um, I remember this feeling when we had, I don’t know, 75 or 80 people going to our church for a season that when we got an unsubscribe, it was like someone had a conversation with me about their family, leaving the church almost when someone clicked on subscribing, it pierced my heart and broke me as, why don’t they want to hear this profound blog that I, that I just wrote?
Thomas Costello 00:16:02 Why don’t they want to hear more about that stuff? So, you know, you have to get over those kinds of things and just know that’s part of what a digital organization is going to do nowadays. So, yeah, that’s good. It’s good.
Ian Hyatt 00:16:11 Well, it leads us to a next good, point here is, is number four using text messages. It’s not just email, also you should consider text. And I think that people are catching. Pastors are catching onto this more. I know now with what we do here at reach, right? I text within the last, I’d say year and a half to two years, I text more pastors than ever before in follow up communication that I have, people are getting more used to it, but there might still be, I think some pastors, a little apprehensive, but what they need to know is most people, these days text and it, particularly the millennials and down, you know, that’s, they prefer to get a text and a phone call. A lot of them don’t even, you know, I hear on voicemail greetings that, Hey, if a fat for a faster response, you should text me.
Ian Hyatt 00:17:01 You know, people, a lot of people are not listening to voicemails anymore. you know, and, and, or, or a lot of people, you know, would prefer a text over an email. So, you know, it’s something that is a, I think new for a lot of churches, but, but churches should definitely do it. And, and I, and I think it’s also comes off a little bit less aggressive because he didn’t just call them kind of like showing up. And so no one likes door to door salesman. Right. So it’s kinda like that. I think if they get a text to them, it’s kinda a little less pressuring and they then have the opportunity to maybe respond and you can take the conversation further over the phone or in person.
Thomas Costello 00:17:38 Yep. No, that’s exactly right. Um, so I’m, I’m right on the millennial gen X line is where I, I know you’re, well-established in the gen X side. I, yes, but hardly in the gen X as a, as a gen X or, uh <inaudible> as they say, sometimes kind of riding the line. I, I try, I was in high school or I guess college when text messaging started to become a thing. And so it was something that, I, I feel like I’m a little bit more comfortable on, on a text message, but I’m not someone that gets nervous getting on the phone or anything like that. I know a lot of people younger than me that would be the case is that they just don’t have that same kind of phone experience. You know, when you and I were in high school, that was what you did is you talked on the phone to people, you got a pager.
Thomas Costello 00:18:25 I had one of those two. Yeah, absolutely. So, but yeah, I think that, using text messages, especially because they are pithy, you can keep it very short and sweet. And, I think that’s a great way to do at least at initial followup. even I’ve seen some churches do this on Sunday afternoon, if they received some kind of a phone number from the person who came that they would just send a message that would be from the pastor. Um, a lot of times that’s really great from the past, if you’re a small enough church that works well and just, Hey, thanks so much for coming. If we can do anything for you at all, please let us know. It’s not a, there’s not demanding a response. It’s not, Hey, what did you think of our service? you know, it’s not any of that kind of, it’s just something that’s really an easier, easy barrier to entry for people and starting a conversation.
Thomas Costello 00:19:11 So use it. Now, this will be more controversial and I’m going to just put it out here. I think making a phone call still has a place. And here’s something that I think is that I’ve learned running, churches running, Christian organizations is that sometimes just because it’s what somebody wants, it doesn’t always mean that’s what we should do as an organization. Um, you know, because people that come into a church, a lot of times, they’re not coming into a church like thinking they need to give their life over to Jesus. My job as a pastor is to convince them of that while they’re there and help them to make a decision, to give their life over to him. They didn’t come in looking for that, but I’m going to that. I know that’s what they need. That’s, what’s the message that I want to give them.
Thomas Costello 00:19:59 And not quite in the same way. I don’t want to give it the same level as this, but there are people that would not want to hear from you on the phone, but there is still value, I think, to churches and pastors, specifically making a phone call to people that come and visit. So at our church, I asked our team to make one phone call to everybody that ever visited. And usually because most people don’t answer calls from people. They don’t know nowadays, it will just go to voicemail. So you won’t ever have to talk to someone. Usually if you’re talking to someone, it’s because they’re probably a gen X or a boomer, and they’re more comfortable on the phone and that’s okay. Yeah. And so, but if it’s someone younger, that’s not comfortable on the phone, they’re not going to answer anyway, but there is value in just leaving a voicemail because you can get things like tone across and just letting them know that you care about them. Now, it’s not saying that, um, Hey, I, I want you to call me back, make sure you call me back at your earliest convenience. You’re not trying to do a high pressure sales call or something, but just getting a phone call out there. It’s one more way that you give someone a touch. And so, I, I always asked my staff to make one, a one logo that people, what do you think of that?
Ian Hyatt 00:21:07 I think that’s good. And I like what you’re saying is, you know, it don’t make it salesy. I guess the Christian version of making it salesy would be like a very hard evangelistic message. Like, please call me as soon as you can, because tomorrow’s never promised and your salvation is on my mind. So I wouldn’t recommend something like that at all, for sure. But you’re exactly right. It’s the effort. And I think even if it goes to voicemail, which it more than likely will, they can still hear your tone and the warmth and insincerity, which is hopefully what you communicate on a message or over the phone. and I think it means a lot. It shows an effort and yeah, I think that, I think I totally,
Thomas Costello 00:21:46 I agree. Yeah, absolutely. No, that’s good.
Ian Hyatt 00:21:49 Good. Well, that leads us, I guess, to our, our next point, which is a little bit kind of on the, on the front end of all of this before you would make a followup call is to actually follow up before they show up. I think now this is a big deal. This was actually even a big deal before the pandemic, but now even in the midst of, the coronavirus and everything, people are used to RSVP for things more than ever now, and, and getting online and registering for something before they do it and, showing up. So we’ve even seen plan your visit pages on your church website to be effective before, the whole Corona virus and the shutdown. But I think they’re even more critical now, or having response forms or just something to where people, if they leave their information or not, everyone will do it.
Ian Hyatt 00:22:41 I know we’ve, we’ve seen with the amount of churches we’ve worked with it. we see that analytics and the data that not everyone, you know, fills out these forms, but the people that do and they were comfortable doing so you should definitely preemptively reach out, you know, before they show up on Sunday and nothing, nothing crazy and aggressive, just like we were saying with the phone call, just, Hey, we saw that you filled out the form. We’re excited to see you on Sunday and your family and get to know you guys, Hey, let us know if there’s anything we can be praying for ahead of time, something like that. But I think that makes them stickier. Don’t you, as far as if you’ve got that kind of a, and you’ve said, you’ve seen this as a pastor,
Thomas Costello 00:23:19 Right? Yep. No we’ve used it. And I found our visitors that preregistered, they were much stickier. Let me take a step back and just talk about the opportunities for churches to do that. So what we’re talking about here is on your church’s website, having a few different ways that people can give you their information before they ever show up the two primary ones that I’ve seen have been a, let us know you’re coming form. And so usually this is a, you fill out this form and we make some kind of a promise to you of what we’ll do for you. When you show up, people know they don’t have to fill out a form to show up at church. Usually I know some churches, you have to do that now with coronavirus, but usually they know that you can just walk into any church. So you have to incentivize this and say, you know, what we did is we said, Hey, we will have a gift for you when you get here, we’ll get you a seat right in the middle.
Thomas Costello 00:24:08 So you don’t stick out. We’ll show you around and introduce you to a few people that are, that you may want to meet. So helping people just get over the apprehension of visiting a church for the first time, they would fill out that form. The other way that we put that on sites is that a preregister your kids form a, this is a really big one where, you know, nowadays with all the child security measures, it’s tough to get someone through in five minutes, all the paperwork they have to do, especially if they have multiple kids signing into kid’s ministry. For the first time, you need to know all the things about health issues, allergies, parental guardians, and who can pick them up and who can’t. And there’s so many different things and we get we’re we’re for all that stuff. But what we’ve seen churches do is put that on their site, on their kids’ page, on their plan, your visit page, where you can fill out your kid’s information ahead of time and skip that whole line and just get a name tag printed out and get right into kids’ ministry and right into service.
Thomas Costello 00:25:03 So anytime you get one of those forms filled out, you are wasting an opportunity. If you’re not reaching out to those people ahead of time and saying, introducing yourself as a leader of the church, you would probably want to tell them a little bit more about what to expect on Sunday and help them to make that decision kind of getting down the path there. So, yeah,
Ian Hyatt 00:25:25 And again, all this reduces apprehension, like you said.
Thomas Costello 00:25:27 Yeah. People have even more apprehension to visit a church
Ian Hyatt 00:25:30 These days. So I guess the more you could reduce, the more likely you’re going to see them stick and come on Sunday. So,
Thomas Costello 00:25:37 Yep, absolutely. Right. Yeah. That’s good. number seven, I’ll tackle that one here. It is have one clear, on-ramp have one clear on-ramp and by OnRamp, we mean have one next step that someone needs to do in order to get into the whole life of the church there. So a lot of churches make this mistake of, they think that by presenting a volume and lots of different opportunities, that is the best way for someone to get connected into your church is that if you throw out 12 different things that they can do next, then they’ll probably choose the one that’s the best fit for them. But what happens typically is that gets lost in the noise, right? You think about how you do a good sermon or a good message is you’re not giving people 12 different assignments of different ways. They can think about this passage of scripture.
Thomas Costello 00:26:31 Here’s 12 different ways that you can, you can apply this and do all 12 this week. No, you’re helping them come to one central point. You have maybe sub points that go with that, but there is one main theme in every good sermon that you drive everything towards. And, if you get anything out of this conversation here today, churches have one specific on-ramp that you push people towards. And what that is, you can, you can change that from church to church. For most churches, it’s probably some kind of a meet the meet the leaders type of a lunch or a gathering. Usually these happen after services for some churches, it’s going to be a full membership class for some churches that don’t have a formalized membership process. It might be some kind of a skidding into a small group. Um, I’m not so concerned over what that one on ramp is.
Thomas Costello 00:27:22 I have some thoughts on what works best, but I think just having one next step that you push everything towards is really gonna be important. so, um, you know, so for us, it was having a, what we call our starting point lunch at the church that I pastored last. And so people would stick around for an hour and a half after church once a month. and if it was your first time, you could come on in and, you’d get a free lunch out of it. And we really tried to encourage everybody that ever came. We told them when the next starting point was, Hey, can you come to starting point? And some of those different emails, they all kind of move people down that road there. So a buckshot doesn’t work. It’s not something where you just shoot out a bunch of bullets and see what goes, have that laser rifle focus and just do that one thing, encouraging them in that one direction. What do you think? Yeah,
Ian Hyatt 00:28:09 I think so. And that’s, again, it’s going to keep everything, like we said, the second point, formalizing your process. It’s kind of in the same vein there, it keeps it consistent for sure. And you bet you can find that one unique thing right. For your church. You know, one of the churches that we work with, I know they do a pizza there. Their first OnRamp was pizza with pastor. you know, they’d have however that many new visitors meet pastor in certain area of the church. They’d do pizza for them and, you know, Hey, find your thing, but make it, you know, one clear thing. So that’s good.
Thomas Costello 00:28:40 Well, let me add this. So at that, that’s where you introduce the other opportunities, right? So when you have your pixel with pastor, that’s where you help them get connected to a small group, and that’s where you help them find a place to serve within the church. And you do all those things there, but do move people down that, that road and to have that like, kind of that as Dave Ramsey would say that gazelle intensity towards that one thing that you want people to do as that next right step. So, yeah,
Ian Hyatt 00:29:05 That’s good. And then you don’t overwhelm them as well. So no, and that’s, and you know, with all of this that we’re talking about, this leads us to our next item. Number eight is with all of this, make it personal. you know, we, we talked about this with the text messages we talked about, just, you know, we don’t want to come off as a Christian robots if you will. Right? So in the email, a follow up phone text, whatever we do with all of this, make it very personal, you know, to the visitor. Um, so be, be authentic. People appreciate, appreciate authenticity, been plenty of studies that show that what they value greatly, and, and the next gen pass them and pass them is basically authenticity, sincerity. And, and a lot of that’s being personal. Um, you know, if we’re just, if we’re just, putting some template, email out there now, now it’s not to say you, you can, you can come up with one consistent email and use those as a template if you will, or messaging, but make it very personal and authentic.
Thomas Costello 00:30:06 Yeah. Yeah. So when we say this, I think what we’re getting at is I, I’m not saying, you know, you have to build an email sequence, like we said before, but make sure that that is something that comes across and not like, this is the same thing that everybody gets. Like, it’s a form letter. You need to write it in a way that pulls in people’s first names, all modern email programs, whether you use MailChimp or constant contact or Zoho, like we use here, they all have ways that you can pull in people’s first names. So I don’t recommend that you, um, that you, you shouldn’t ever leave it generic. So it shouldn’t say dear visitor, you know, or something like that, you want to make sure that you’re using people’s first names you’re talking casually. If your church is small enough where, um, you know, maybe you’re under a couple of hundred people, you see, a few or a handful of visitors every week, and maybe you’re the kind of pastor that meets everybody.
Thomas Costello 00:30:55 You, you stand at the door and shake hands and do those things. I would try to find a way to personalize every message that I can, so you can have your form email, but I would always try to stick it in some kind of personal experience that I have with them. It was great to meet you and your family and your three great kids that way they know that I’m talking about you specifically. I don’t send this out to everybody. So any way we can make that personal connection with people, I think it, it really helps people kind of get over that hurdle of whether they can relate to you as a pastor. And we know from studies that the primary reason why people choose a church is because of a relationship they feel with the lead pastor or the main speaker at the church there. So I do think you could do to make yourself approachable and personable. It goes a long way. And I think that, um, at a minimum, if you’re too large for that, and you don’t have the time for that, I think doing things to make your regular communication seem, I would rather be casual as opposed to formal. Right. So use first names don’t use last like mr. Or mrs. So and so, you know, where appropriate use first names where you can and just try to be conversational with people.
Ian Hyatt 00:32:02 Yeah, that’s it. And I think this is where this small church, the smaller church might have an advantage. So if you’re smaller and of course every smaller churches trying to grow, you know, this is where you can, you can dig in a little bit deeper, but you know, for any size church, you can still do this, but, you brought up a good point there, you should make it as personal and remember things about them, all of that shows sincerity and that you care.
Thomas Costello 00:32:26 Yeah. So let me get to the last one now, number nine, what that is, is it’s verify the process. And I want to talk to you, I guess, as a, as a organization leader, um, I’ve led a different organizations, churches, and businesses. and one of the things I want to say is that it’s important that you verify that the process that you formalized is actually taking place is here. Here’s how a conversation goes. Pretty often that we have. So we’ll talk to a church, in some initial consultations about a web project or something like that. And we’ll ask them, Hey, what is your visitor followup process? Can you outline that for us? And then I usually have to ask a followup question where I say now, is that what really happens? Or is that what the book says should happen? Is this really happening?
Thomas Costello 00:33:15 And I think, I don’t know what it is. This has been the same for organizations I’ve led that are outside of churches and secular organizations that when it comes to communication, if you’re not verifying that the, that the process that you’ve outlined is happening, it will slip. Like people will stop doing it. And it’s not like a slight on anybody. I, I, this is just a natural human thing. Is that almost everybody, except for these really extreme extroverts, almost everybody gets a little bit uncomfortable when they have to reach out and talk to people that they don’t know. I know this as someone who fibbed my way through a follow up process in my early days administrate, right? So I would, I was assigned, I was that guy. I went out, I got out of Bible college. I was working at a medium sized church.
Thomas Costello 00:34:03 And, you know, the lowest job on the totem pole was being the followup guy that called everybody. This is back in the early two thousands. So you still had to call at that point, I had to pick up the phone and have these awkward conversations with everybody that walked in our doors for the first time. And I don’t know that I ever lied about it and said, I did that when I didn’t, but I certainly, um, I certainly tried to avoid making those phone calls. So I would look for like, if the number was hard to read, I might like, Oh, I don’t really know if that’s the right number or not. So I’m not going to call it. I don’t know all the things that I did, but I just know normally most leaders in churches, they don’t like doing this. Right. So making those phone calls anytime you’re, you know, it’s equivalent to cold calling every business, you always have to push your, your salespeople to do cold calls. Cause nobody in their right mind likes to call people that aren’t expecting their call and maybe don’t want to talk to them. It’s just uncomfortable. So if you believe in this and you have a process that’s formalized, I have just learned from experience in leading organizations and being on the other side that you need to verify that the process is happening all the time and that you have people committed to doing it. So I dunno, what do you think? Am I wrong on that? Or what do you think?
Ian Hyatt 00:35:17 God, I couldn’t agree more. So I think that that’s a, and it’s a good last point to finish on because I think that just to solidify, it is going to be key it’s it goes with everything we’ve been saying so far, as far as the consistency, getting your staff and volunteers behind it. And, and I think that we’ve seen the churches that grow, and I know the
Thomas Costello 00:35:38 Churches we’ve consulted with that are successful churches and rowing churches. they’re the ones that do have their process verified and, and in sync. Um, and so I think it’s something that you, you know, even in the midst of we, cause we know church it’s busy, right? You’re, you’re focused on Sunday, you know, you’re focused on, you know, kids’ ministry, the preaching, all of that. So this is kind of where things can slip, but it’s a good thing to prioritize for that, that you’ll be thankful for later. So yeah, I think that’s right. So well, that’s it guys. That’s our secret sauce. I think this is something that if your church isn’t doing a formal visitor followup process, I really, I highly encourage you to jump into something like that, make it a formalized process, build a team around this. If you’re a church that’s a few hundred or larger, you’ll probably need a handful of people to help you with this.
Thomas Costello 00:36:27 I’d say build a team no matter what. Cause we’re all about getting more people involved in the ministry, but having people there to help you with this, maybe recruit a champion to go down this road with your church. But I think that this is what will take your church from having those gifts of visitors into a church. That’s actually turning it into regular growth in your attendance. And not just that that’s becoming a less and less important metric and the number of people that you’re actually discipling and turning into Christ followers. They need people, they need guides to help them down that road and having a process that you guide people through. It is one of the most important things you can do. So any final thoughts? No, that’s it. I think you wrapped it up superbly there. Cool. Awesome. Well, that’s it for us this week, guys. Thank you so much for joining us. if you haven’t already, it would mean the world to us. If you would rate, review and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, or if you watch online on YouTube or Facebook, we’d love to like, to hear what you think, let us know in the comments. And if we don’t hear from you first, we’ll catch you next week. Have you have a good one guys?
Thomas Costello 00:37:31 Thanks for listening to the REACHRIGHT podcast. We hope this episode will help you reach people the right way, looking for more resources for your church. Check us out online and REACHRIGHT studios.com. If this episode has been helpful to you, it would mean the world to us. If you would rate, review and subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks again for listening and we’ll see you next week.