One Simple Thing You Need to DO to Grow the Church
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.
While 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 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.