Following up is one of the biggest missed opportunities in churches. Without a clear follow-up strategy and process, first-time guests don’t feel welcome or get connected, new givers don’t know the impact their donation has and might not feel compelled to give again, and new believers don’t get a clear path for growth. Just like you don’t communicate with your 14-year-old nephew and your 80-year-old grandmother the same way, you’ll use many different methods to follow up with different groups in your church. But there are a few defining characteristics of a great follow-up process that are important for every follow up process you have.
#1 – PunctualityImagine if you met someone new and sent them a text message two months later saying, “It was so nice meeting you!” They might not believe you. Timeliness in following up with guests is critical. Research has shown that your guest retention rate is highest when you follow up within 48 hours. In 1987, statistics from Herb Miller reported how many guests will return depending on how quickly someone from the church visits their home.
- 85% of guests return if visited in 36 hours
- 60% of guests return if visited in 72 hours
- 15% of guests return if visited in 7 days
#2 – PersonalizationMany churches have a follow-up process that includes one automated email with a generic message about coming back soon and listing the service times. If that’s your church, you have a big opportunity to improve your process by personalizing it. Emails are still effective, but make them more personal with an introduction letter from the pastor and their family, answering frequently asked questions, linking to previous sermons they might find helpful, or a list of ways they and their children can get involved. The follow-up process is also a great way to involve volunteers. Volunteers can write handwritten notes to first-time guests and givers, make phone calls, or send texts. There’s a place for automation (and, as we mentioned above, a way to make automation feel less automated), but there’s nothing like a personal touch.
#3 – IntentionalityIt’s time to get serious about following up. A follow-up process that makes guests feel cared for and helps them get connected in your church doesn’t happen by accident. Those you’re following up with can tell when your efforts are rushed and uncoordinated, so it’s worth taking the time to focus on how your church can intentionally follow up with people. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Start simple by putting a system in place to follow up within 48 hours. Assign parts of the process to different members of your team and ask them to report on how many follow-up postcards, emails, etc. were sent each week. Download our free Follow-Up Checklist to start evaluating the most important parts of your follow-up processes and establish clarity in ownership, effectiveness, and more.
#4 – ClarityYour follow-up process should answer the “Now What?” question. It’s up to you and your team to define what the next steps are so you can clearly communicate them when you follow up.
- “Thank you for giving to our church. Please pray about our upcoming opportunity to reach our community, which your donation will allow us to do in the following ways.”
- “We’re so glad you accepted Andrea’s invitation to visit our church. We saw that you live in the Fulton County area, and Jennifer leads an awesome group of women there. I’d love to connect you two.”
- “It’s awesome to see you building your new relationship with Jesus. I’d recommend starting with this Study Bible and devotional.”
#5 – DocumentationDon’t assume that everyone on your team knows how to follow up, that guests know what’s next, or that givers know how much you appreciate their giving. Write it down. Put it on the calendar. Present it to your staff. Documentation takes the guess-work out of what’s next when someone takes an action at your church (visiting, joining a small group, becoming a believer, etc.). It’s hard to follow a process you can’t see, but when your process is documented, your church has an official plan for following up—one of the most important actions a church can take. To make sure you have everything you need to implement your follow-up process, we created the Follow-Up Checklist to help you get started. This free resource will help you…
- Evaluate the key pieces of your follow-up process
- Ask the right who, what, and how questions
- Establish clarity in ownership, effectiveness, and more