One Simple Thing You Need to DO to Grow the Church

churchgrowth

My work allows me the luxury of being able to visit many different churches in a number of locations, of both the denominational and non-denominational variety. While I usually stick to evangelical assemblies, I frequently visit Baptist, Assembly of God, Independent Christian Churches, Christian and Missionary Alliance, and many more.

Over the last year my wife and I have intentionally visited ten churches, all evangelical, and all who have clear Vision/Mission statements about reaching the lost and growing the Kingdom. Every single church had a Guest or Visitor Card that they asked you to fill out. We filled one out at each church and gave all of the correct information, including name, address, phone number, and e-mail address. None of the ministers knew us and I did not volunteer any information about my pastoral background.

Now here was the shocker for me – while most of the ten churches were somewhat friendly and offered a decent worship experience, only one of the ten followed up with us based on the information we gave them! Only one out of ten! And to top it off, half of the churches said during the service that if you filled out the Guest Card they would be sending you a gift of some kind in the mail.

I don’t have any studies to back up what I’m about to say, but based on personal experience, about 2 out of 10 visitors will fill out your Guest Card. Most people will not fill it out on their first visit because they don’t know you yet and are uncomfortable with the thought of some strange religious group hounding them. That’s understandable.

But when they do fill it out, it is absolutely inexcusable for the church not to follow-up with those people in some way, shape, or form. I’m not suggesting being intrusive or bothering people, but if you’re not even going to send a “Thank You For Visiting” note, you really shouldn’t be asking people to fill out the card at all. For all we know the people filling out the card might not even be in a relationship with Christ and we have an opportunity that has been handed to us by God to reach out to them. There is absolutely no excuse for not doing so.

I will not name the churches that did not follow up, but I will name the one that did. It was Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, KY.  We visited on a Sunday Morning. On Wednesday we received a handwritten note from a couple that were members at the church thanking us for visiting. On Thursday we received a letter from their financial secretary thanking us for giving. On Friday we received a letter from the pastor thanking us for attending and including a brochure with helpful information about classes, worship, times, etc… While I haven’t asked, I am almost positive that they have a system set up to do this with each visitor who fills out the card.

9e68ff9d79062ab0a6009254374c12f8While I was impressed with what Immanuel Baptist Church did, I shouldn’t have been, because this should be the norm. The fact that it isn’t tells me quite a bit about how serious the other churches were about evangelism, gaining and retaining members, and outreach in general. I realize that not every church has the resources to put a lot of money into this type of thing, but anyone can set up a small volunteer team to make sure that the Visitor Cards are gathered and, at the very least, a note sent out on Monday letting them know you are glad they stopped by.

I want to encourage you today to begin to do this if you’re not doing it already. From my somewhat limited experience, it will help you to stand out in the crowd and just possibly give you the opportunity to lead more and more people to Christ.

That’s what it’s all about anyway…isn’t it?

Barry L. Davis

 

Barry L. Davis spent two decades as a Senior Pastor and started the ministry of The Pastor’s Helper in 1996. The Pastor’s Helper strives to provide tools and resources to help pastors succeed in their ministry calling.

15 comments

  • Valda

    This result doesn’t surprise me because so many ministers or pastors do not do home visits any more.This is a sad situation for me because when I was growing up our home was always a second home to our minister and his wife.. We know without any doubt that God is Love and love in a church is expressed by caring.

    • Dr. Mark Lynch

      Being a Pastor myself, who has been in the Ministry for over 28 years I would like to comment on the lady who said “that most Pastors don’t do home visits anymore.” In the first place Luke spoke on this subject in Acts chapter 6 when he wrote in verses 1-4 , 1And in those days, when the number of the disciples was -multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. 2Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. “3Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, (Deacons) whom we may appoint over this business. 4But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.” The Pastor of a church is called to be the spiritual leader of the church, manage the administration affairs of the church, train and manage his staff, pray for his congregation, study the word of God faithfully, prepare his sermons under the leadership of the Holy Ghost, preach the word of God for the equipping of the saints for the work of the Ministry, teach and train his staff and flock to become better disciples for Christ and counsel people within the church who have a need that cannot be handled by the Deacon body. Deacons are responsible to do home visits, hospital visits and nursing home visits and take care of the many needs of the congregation both spiritual and physical. If a Pastor is expected to do all the visiting, including home visits, hospital visits, nursing home visits and so forth he has no time to do what he is called to do. To many churches today think that is what they pay the Pastor for, is to do all the work in the church, while the Deacons think they are responsible to run the church, which is completely backwards from what the Word of God teaches. A Pastor that is doing what God has called him to do effectively has a full time job and cannot do all the visiting in the church.

      • Chaplain Jorge Rosas, Sr.

        First I agree with Pastor Davis and will reply to Pastor Lynch. We have been in street evangelism where the church itself goes and grabs all that receive salvation and promise to follow up on the conversion in a drug infected neighborhood. Well I have spoken to many in prison, that have told me that before they were send to prison (for what ever reason, no judgement), they attended a Sunday service or a street evangelistic preaching, and their hope to receive at least a courtesy call, (probably would have deter) that person to going to prison, (so says the individuals). But as to the follow up, many have not done so here in the Bronx, I was in a church for 25-26 years, and all the promising of a follow up to congregants visiting have never been done.(It is shameful) Now I go to a Church that all the visitors cards are announced to the meetings of officials and each one take one and follow up, and the results have been, I say 32% on a positive bases. As for Pastor Lynch, I agree with him all the way, what are the Chaplains, deacons, officials of the church for is they can’t provide the ministerial teachings of discipleness in the outer world. What are they warming seats, receiving the word and allowing them to glutton with it; I don’t think it is fair to place all the weight on the Pastor of the church, he is their to disciple the flock, and the flock is their to make more disciples with the teachings of the Pastor and of course the complete guidance of the Holy Spirit… May God continue to Bless the Pastors that do disciple the flock of Jesus, thank you pastors especially Pastor Davis and Lynch for now…..Many Blessings and prayers…….By the way God’s people, need good teachings, well Pastor Davis ministry has them, read, enjoy, learn, cry, and work, because the harvest is full, but few laborers….

  • J. Kelfstrom

    We are a very, very small church and so when visitors come to worship they definitely stand out.. One Sunday a family of four. and new to the community join us for worship. After the service I asked if they had signed the guest register and they had not. I said please do because we would like to send you a thank you note for coming. The mom said to me, “out of all the churches we have visited since moving here your church was the only one to ask for our information. and that meant a lot to me.” We all need to feel we are welcome, Take the time, We never know what messengers God is sending our way.

  • Awesome! At our church we have visitors to fill out a card and on Monday we mail a “Thank you for visiting us” card. We also send the visitor a happy birthday and/or happy anniversary card when that time comes around. I love it, hoping they would love to return. It works.

  • D. Thomson

    I don’t know what our church does, bit I am going to check. Thank you for the reminder.

  • I thank you for this article it is an eye opener really puts our focus on sharp

  • Daniel Hyde Appiah

    It’s a great challenge for today’s church develop this missing culture.

  • Kathryne Young

    We stopped the mailing when so many cards came back as undeliverable,ie, people were giving fake info.

  • DANIEL ANAMKULYA

    That is great. Those simple steps could really change someone’s life.
    thanks

  • OKobi tephen

    Can we really quantify the magnitude of loss the church is experiencing for this great negligence.
    As for me not that the pastors are meant or required to do it all;but they do have a great role to play
    in teaching and encouraging their subordinates ministers and members to make it a priority.

    • Barry L. Davis

      I wasn’t trying to imply that this was the main reason for decreasing membership numbers, but it is one thing that adds to that that can be easily corrected.

  • Loren Sanders

    ” I am almost positive that they have a system set up to do this ”

    Almost positive? No sir, what yiou experienced WAS their system in action. 😉

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