{Article} How to Use a Communication Card to Gather Guest Info

I just posted an article to the Articles page of the site that expands upon my post from yesterday.  In this article you can learn how to utilize a communication card to gather info from first time guests so the church can provide appropriate follow up.  You can download it directly by clicking here or go to the Articles page.

How Are You Collecting Guest Info?

If a church is going to properly follow up with guests at their church who are there for the first or second time it must have a method for collecting information that will help with such follow up.  If there is no method for collecting information then it will be difficult to properly acknowledge the guest’s presence and provide great follow up.

tourist information booth

I have come across many different methods for capturing guest information.

  • Pew Cards- these are small cards located in the back of the pew in front of you that you may or may not be asked to fill out and put in the offering plate.  Sometimes there is a golf pencil (usually unsharpened) located near the pew card.
  • Pew Pads- these are small pads usually with a blue cover with tear out pages that persons in attendance are asked to pass around and write their names in and pass down the aisle for later pick up during some point in the worship service (usually during the offering).
  • Welcome Folder Info Card- some churches will give to guests a welcome to our church folder that has a guest card in the folder that they can then bring to a place to receive a free gift or place in the offering plate.
  • My favorite and the one I have utilized with much success is the Communication Card.  I got the idea for the Communication Card from @NelsonSearcy and his book Fusion.  This small card goes in the worship program and everyone is asked to fill out the card and placed it in the offering plate.

In a later post I will write more about why I think the Communication Card is the most effective means of gathering information in order to follow up with guests.

The most important thing is to have some system of gathering information whether you use pew pads or cards or Communication Cards and that persons are invited to make use of these methods at every worship service.  The guests that come through our doors every Sunday are God’s gift.  It might be the last time they are giving the church a chance.  How we follow up with guests is really a stewardship issue.

Whatever method you use you should allow your guests to worship anonymously.  For example, when we used Communication Cards and a guest did not fill one out we took that to mean they did not want to be noticed or followed up with.  When they did fill out a card and provided info we took that as permission to follow up.

What methods have worked best in your church for gathering information for effective follow up with guests?

Resource Roundup

Here are some of the best resources (articles, blog posts, etc.) from around the web this past week.

Definition of resource

Advanced Google Search Tips for Pastors– Craig Van Korlaar @vankorlaar from Church Relevance shares some handy tips to focus searches and save time.

Is Your Church Website Attractional or Missional and Why it MattersSteve Dunn from the Outward Focused Church shares some insight as to why churches need to move from static web pages to web pages and social media strategies that are interactive.

Nine Signs Your Church is Ready to Reach Unchurched People– You can say you want to reach unchurched people.  You can even teach about it.  Unless you have designed your church to do so, chances are you won’t reach unchurched people according to Carey Nieuwhof @cnieuwhof.

Four Steps to Leading Your Church to be EvangelisticChuck Lawless, via Thom Rainer’s blog shares four practical things a church can do to discover or recover a heart for people not yet connected to a local church.

Have You Attended Rolling University?

I have been attending Rolling University for about three years now.  How about you?  Rolling University first took place in my 2003 Volkwagen Golf but now takes place in my Dodge Journey.  When talking about Rolling University I am talking about redeeming the time you spend riding in your car to help further your education.  It is important for leaders to always be learning and this is one way to do so.

Modern luxury car interiorWhen you are driving in your car it is a great time to redeem the time by listening to a podcast whether it be about church leadership, a favorite preacher, a Bible study, or any other topic in any other field.  By using your phone and Ipod and Itunes or Downcast (my favorite app to download and play podcasts) your car turns into a veritable lecture hall.  While I wouldn’t suggest taking notes it is easy enough to subscribe to your favorite podcasts and then listen while in the car.

You will, of course, every now and then, just want to jam out to some music- and that is great.  But instead of the music for a while why not take some time to learn something new or be challenged and stretched?

John Wesley spoke of the people called Methodists “redeeming the time.”  In other words, making the most out of your time and just not idly trifling it away.  I think Wesley would have attended Rolling University if technology would have allowed but the horses he rode were not yet equipped with Bluetooth.

Do you ever use the time traveling to catch up on some learning? 

Mentors from Afar

It is universally accepted that no matter what field someone is it is always wise to have a mentor.  It is always good to have someone who has “been there, done that, and got the t-shirt” who can provide wisdom and guidance.  Many years ago this is why persons apprenticed as they learned a trade.  It is still good to have a mentor today.

Leadership ConceptIt used to be that in order to find a mentor you would seek someone out, invite them to lunch, share what you were doing and ask them (plead?) to be your mentor.  Hopefully, they said yes.  And, while this type of mentorship is still very valuable I find  myself and others I talk to additionally obtaining what I call “mentors from afar.”

What are mentors from afar?  With the onset of technology and especially the Internet and its accompanying websites, blogs, podcasts, and more there is more information and teaching available to church leaders than ever before.  It is possible today to be mentored from afar by a person that you have never met.  Through their web presence they teach you, challenge you, and inspire you.  They may not ever recognize you if they passed you on the street or saw you at a conference but they have spoken into your life and career or ministry.  Again, they cannot replace the mentor who you can call and who knows you well and prays for you but they can help you.  While mentors from afar might have always been a part of people’s lives because of books we can say with certainty that technology has accelerated this phenomenon.

The following people have been mentors from afar for me through their writing (in books and blogs), through their podcasts and through the resources they offer.  These are in no particular order of importance.

Michael Hyatt@michaelhyatt Michael is dedicated to developing intentional leadership and is the former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing.  He has a generous heart and shared great leadership principles through his blog, podcast, books (particularly Platform) and through his newly launched Platform University.

Nelson Searcy@nelsonsearcy Nelson is the Lead Pastor of the Journey in New York City which is a multi-site church.  Through his Church Leader Insights blog Nelson shares both for free and at a nominal cost down to earth practical ideas and teaching for local churches that hep them reach more people.

21st Century Strategies– is led by Bill Easum @easum and Bill Tenny-Brittian @biltb  These men have more knowledge about church growth, vitality and leadership in their pinky fingers than many of us have in our whole brains!  They have generated many resources to help local churches and church leadership including their always helpful Net Results magazine as well as their flagship website for resources EffectiveChurch.com.

I thank God for these people and pray God’s blessing on them as they seek to equip the local church.

Who have been your mentors from afar? 

{New Article} Moving Toward Excellence

A church that wants to do its best for Jesus and reach persons not yet a part of the church and wishes to move toward vitality and fruitfulness must seek to create a culture of excellence in all facets of ministry.  Creating a culture of excellence is not the latest church growth gimmick or even an effort to be “better” than the church down the street.

excellence

This new article at ChurchIngenuity.Com explores why the church should bother with excellence, how creating a culture of excellence finds it basis in God’s excellent nature and contrasts two experiences- one with excellence and one with something less than excellent.

Read the article hereVisit the ChurchIngenuity.Com “Articles” page here.

The Difference Between Visitors and Guests

Most every church I know has a time in their worship service when they formally welcome new persons to their church.  This is usually done by the worship leader of the day or the pastor and is sometime accompanied by an invitation to fill out a pew pad or a registration card in the pew rack.

Be our guest

While it is a good thing to welcome those new to the church it is important for churches to watch their language when it comes to how it welcomes and refers to those who have come to the church for the first time.  Oftentimes, these persons who are coming for the first time are referred to as “visitors.”  “Visitors” are welcomed to the church and invited to sign the pew pad.  In the worst of all circumstances “visitors” are asked to stand and be recognized.

I have found it more helpful to use the word “guests” as opposed to visitors.  The use of the word “guests” to refer to people who are first, second or third time attendees is more than mere semantics or word play.

Let’s use an example from home life.

  • The visitor who comes to your door is the one who is coming for a short time for a specific task.  This is the insurance salesman.  He rings your doorbell and more often than not you grudgingly get up wondering who it is who is bothering you at the door.  Once you find out who it is you try your best to get rid of this visitor (politely of course).  Or, this is the mail carrier who is dropping off the package that won’t fit in the mailbox.  She drops it and goes.
  • Contrast these visitors to your home to those who you receive as guests.  Guests are the people who are truly important to you.  They might be your boss from work coming for dinner.  Or, it might be your friend from high school you haven’t seen in years or the parents of your child’s fiance coming to your home.  With these folks you are expecting them.  They do not come by surprise.  You prepare for them.  You clean the house and the bathrooms!  You might get out your best dishes or find that yummy recipe.  You might get some fresh cut flowers.  You eagerly await their arrival and warmly greet them when they arrive.  You engage them during their time with you and hope they will stay instead of wishing them out the door.  When it is time to go you warmly say good bye and thank them for coming.

You can see why in the church we have to treat those who are coming to church for the first time ever, for the first time in a long time, or the first or second or third time for any reason, as guests and not visitors.  Like guests in our home we must prepare for their coming, warmly greet them, engage them and thank them for coming.

In the end, do the people who come through our doors really care whether we call them visitors or guests?  Probably not.  They do care and Jesus cares whether we treat them like guests or visitors, however.  Furthermore, by using the terminology of guests it allows for a teachable moment with our leadership and those already a part of our church and serves as a crucial reminder to us to offer radical hospitality to our guests each and every Sunday.

Do you use the term visitors or guests in your church and more importantly do you treat those coming through your doors for the first time as visitors or guests? 

Making Your Website URL Memorable

If you have a website for your church or organization you should be putting your website on every piece of printing you produce from your church bulletin and brochure to your invite cards and newsletter.  You will want to put it in your email signature and any other place that persons might see it and go to your website and check out your church.

WWW HandwritingOne simple way to make your website URL memorable is to spell it out with capital letters.  This will help people remember it as opposed to just listing it out with small letters all jumbled together.  Here is the difference.

The memorable way- www.ChurchIngenuity.com
The less memorable way- www.churchingenuity.com

Using capitals for each new world in your URL is especially important if you use your website URL on an outdoor sign or marquee.  In addition to making it memorable using capitals makes it easier to read from a distance.

Resource Roundup

Here are some of the best resources (articles, blog posts, etc.) from around the web this past week.

Definition of resource

Getting the Most out of Your Property– by Bill Easum at 21st Century Strategies– the Dean of church vision, strategy and leadership development has written a great piece for churches dealing with issues of property which is most churches or will soon be almost every church who owns any property.  He includes options for churches stuck in already designed space as well as churches looking to expand not to mention innovative ways to do ministry without a building.  And, some foundational nuts and bolts.

Handling the Pressure of MinistryCarey Nieuwhof– Carey did a whole series of posts about mistakes he made as a young leader.  This post and his others were transparent and authentic and well worth the read.

14 Tips for Time ManagementChuck Lawless, via Thom Rainer’s blog shares some practical tips to redeem the time.  While these tips are nothing new under the sun per se, they are great reminders for time pressed leaders.

Make Meetings MatterBill Tenny Brittian at 21st Century Strategies shares how to make meetings matter so that you are not meeting just for the sake of meeting so you can accomplish something critical to your mission.  If you make meetings matter you will have team members showing up ready to do ministry.