We are always trying new things, making improvements, arguing about it, and tweaking again how we use Connection Cards to follow up with guests at New Song.
These are our best practices. Right now. See which ideas will work for you.
Why bother with Connection Cards?
Connection cards are the insert in your program where you ask for your guests’ contact info, and you give them opportunity to request information about age groups and ministries in your church.
Everyone in the service fills out a Connection Card every week, or the visitors won’t because they don’t want to shout out that they are the outsiders.
If everyone is doing it, guests probably will, too.
Each week during the announcements, we hold one up and say something like this,
“Inside your program is a Connection Card that looks like this. Please fill this out and put it in the offering when it comes around at the end of the service. If this is your first time with us, we’re especially glad you’ve joined us. If you’ll take your Connection Card to our Information Center, we’ll give you a free copy of The God Questions as our way of saying, ‘We’re glad you joined us today!’”
Connection Cards are worth the time we give them in the service and during the week because being able to follow up with guests can make the difference in their sticking around church long enough to find their way to Jesus.
Four Steps in our Connection Card Follow Up
1. We get our Connection Cards entered on Sunday so we can get busy following up on Monday. It takes an eye for detail to enter them correctly, so we find detail-oriented people and equip them thoroughly. They enter the registration cards from our children and youth ministries as they come in on Sunday, too.
2. We use Church Community Builder for our database. We like that we can enter the contact information for individuals and families, and we can set up process queues so a quick check in a box sends an email to the person who should follow up.
3. Every first-time family gets:
- an email from us on Monday afternoon
- a phone call within 48 hours
- a letter from the pastor in the mail by Thursday.
The email has a link to a short survey on SurveyMonkey. The phone call is made by a volunteer – not someone who is paid to be nice – so they hear from someone like them. The letter from the pastor thanks them for coming and encourages them to come back next weekend.
4. By Tuesday night they may also get contacted by our children’s ministry, the youth ministry, the young adult leaders, or by people representing any other boxes they checked. They get the message that we are willing and able to be in relationship with them.
How Connection Cards help us Follow Everyone
1. We also follow up with people after their second visit. They get an email from a volunteer on Monday and another handwritten note, but this one contains a gift card for a sandwich, an ice cream or a coffee as a thank you for coming.
2. After one month, they get a call to check in and help them take their next step in getting connected.
3. The Connection Cards have checkboxes that we use for communication beyond assimilating newcomers. Salvation and baptism, child dedication, joining a small group or ministry team, and more, can be checked and will be followed up.
4. We take attendance based on Connection Cards and follow up with people who have missed three weeks in a row and six weeks in a row. Those people are in danger of dropping out.
5. And we update contact info, of course, as it comes in on the weekly cards from the regular attenders.
You might be arguing with me that you don’t have enough visitors each week, or enough manpower, to establish such a thorough system for such a little thing, but I would argue back that if you don’t set it up so you can connect with more guests, you will let them slip away when they come.
Here’s How to Move Forward
1. Be sure you have a church database that functions to manage information about your families, and to track them through a follow-up process. Try Church Community Builders if you need a new database. The founders came out of New Song and we are big fans.
2. Tap the person who is good at database stuff to work with you to get your process set up. It’s convenient if it is an admin on staff so someone is nearby to make tweaks and keep everyone up to speed.
3. Build the rest of the follow up team: who will enter the connection cards, who will send the email and the letters, who will make the phone calls to all visitors, and who will make the phone calls regarding specific ministries or information. You may want to hire someone for ten hours a week to manage all your assimilation follow up.
I know that Connection Card follow up is just one thing, but it’s one big thing if you’re looking to grow your church.
If you want more information about Connection Cards and your assimilation system, check out my ebook Keeping your Guests Coming Back.
Start Here to learn more about the resources available for you at PastorMentor.