Every year, we see more people come through the church doors for special occasions like Christmas. We get excited about the increased attendance and start looking forward to watching more people come to know Christ, step up to volunteer, and maybe even start giving.

But wait…where’d they go?

Those Christmas service guests can come and go before anyone has the chance to connect with them. They easily get lost in the in-person crowd and or in the corners of the internet when they watch online.

And for Christmas 2020, getting people connected to your church will be even more challenging as many people opt to attend online-only. 

But with some frontend preparation, there are ways to keep online Christmas guests from falling through the cracks.

#1 – Offer multiple methods

As the barrage of available personality tests shows us, people are incredibly unique in their preferences for communication and activity.

First, provide multiple ways for people to identify themselves. This can be through interaction in the livestream chat, a digital or physical connection card, a “Plan A Visit” page on the church website, etc. You can’t connect with people without first knowing that they’re watching or visiting.

To make sure that people get connected to your church no matter what their preferences are, make sure they’re able to find a way that works for them. Some people would love to receive a phone call from a church volunteer, while others might want to text to connect.

A “text to connect” option can even happen during services. Use a service, such as Text in Church, to allow people to send their contact information through text.

While some people might be willing to fill out a physical connection card and take it to a connection team volunteer face-to-face, there are many others who are much more likely to fill out a digital connection card that they can find on the church website or that shows up in their email. And the digital connection card doesn’t have to be fancy—a simple Google Form, CCB form, or any other digital form will do.

Just remember to emphasize methods of connection where people won’t get lost and fade into the church’s list of followers. “Connect with us on social media!” isn’t as effective as getting their email address or phone number.

#2 – Create a clear next step

The core question to ask when planning your follow-up process is: What are you asking guests to DO? (You can use our free Follow-Up Checklist to evaluate your process.)

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The Follow-Up Checklist
Perhaps there’s a next step option before their next step, such as a Facebook Group they can engage in before taking the leap of joining a small group. Have someone in the Facebook Group who is in charge of helping people move along in the process and usher them into the next step of joining a small group, meeting someone to connect over coffee, attending a Bible study, etc. This is a great role for a volunteer.

Sometimes people get connected to churches through things that aren’t connected to the church much at all. Their next step could be participating in a community outreach initiative or even a cooking class that the church is organizing. Ask people to do something for the community or in community, instead of just for the church. This is a more comfortable, low-stakes way of getting connected for some.

Another way to help people get connected that’s low pressure is to plan “demo-like” communications. This could be an email with a video introduction from the pastor that shares a little about the church or a webinar/Zoom meeting with a time for Q&A.

And of course, there’s always the option that’s popular in churches—adding them to the weekly newsletter. This isn’t a bad next step, but make sure the newsletter is new people-friendly first. Remove insider language that a new person wouldn’t understand and make sure the newsletter includes upcoming events and other opportunities that can be the next steps for them.

#3 – Nurture them

Businesses understand that people need to be nurtured before they “buy in.” So, they send helpful articles related to their industry, give away free samples, and consistently send follow-up emails to remind (and educate) potential customers of the products they were interested in.

While churches are not businesses, churches can borrow from this principle and use “nurture campaigns” to help people get connected.

A well-planned follow-up process makes sure that connections happen and keeps first-time guests, new believers, new givers, etc. from falling through the cracks. (Church Fuel members, check out the follow-up email templates in The Follow-Up Course and Resource Library.)

When you design a follow-up process for your church, consider point #2 again and begin with the end in mind. What is the ultimate action you want people to take?

Next, ask: What can we do to help them get there in the meantime?

To take another relevant cue from the business world, send people helpful content. Find out what people need (asking questions is how we get to know people, after all) and create resources that help fill that need.

When they answer your question (in service, through a Facebook ad, etc.), request their contact information to send them a resource on the topic. In the business world, these are called lead magnets.

For example, a church could use providing resources as a part of their nurture/follow-up process. If you ask, “What is your biggest spiritual need?” and someone chooses the answer, “I don’t know where to start with the Bible,” send them a Bible reading guide or devotional that your church put together.

Many people in your area might be struggling with job loss. Send career resources and let them know that a team of people are praying for them.

The parents watching your church online might feel like they’re running out of ways to involve their children in faith practices or just ideas to entertain them. Create and send a Bible exercises ebook for children or a list of fun, family-friendly community activities.

Sending people helpful resources nurtures their relationship with the church. People will engage with this casual support from the church long before they’ll consider becoming a member, volunteering, or even joining a small group.

Nurturing online guests or potential guests (whether before or after you have their contact information) helps connect people to God through being spiritually nurtured with resources and prayer, to other believers, and to their gifts—making them more motivated to get connected to the church and start serving God.

To learn more, listen to Season 2 of The Church Fuel Podcast where we covered how to reach people online. Start with these two episodes:

Take the Next Step

Tired of people falling through the cracks in your church? The Follow-Up Course provides you with the tools and templates you need to follow up effectively.

This insanely practical course will help you create, improve, and launch effective follow-up processes to get guests, givers, and new believers connected in your church.