Are you ready for the hundreds of Easter guests that will “attend” your church online this weekend? Do you have a clear plan for following up with them? Are you confident you can connect them into the life of your church beyond streaming your services on Sunday?
On Episode 34 of the Church Revitalization Podcast, we walk you step-by-step through an assimilation plan that every church can customize and use. This done-for-you guest follow-up system can be up and ready to go by Sunday, regardless of the size of your church.
Welcome and First Connection
Address your guests two times during your worship service, once at the beginning and then again at the end. In the beginning, tell them that you’ll have a brief virtual meet-and-greet after the service and that you are looking forward to connecting with them. Also, invite them to fill out your guest connection form. Again at the end of the service, tell your guests how happy you are that they joined you and that you’d love to meet them now – in 15 minutes.
Direct guests to the connect page to fill out the form and click the meeting link for your Zoom meeting (or whatever you’ll use, but make it a two-way system so you can talk to one another). If you want higher meet-and-greet attendance, mention that there’s a gift involved. If you’re worried about the cost, you could qualify that the gift is for guests local to the church only.
*Pro Tip 1– Make your guest connection form a very easy URL such as www.yourchurch.com/connect
*Pro Tip 2 – After your meet-and-greet, remove the meeting link from that connect page or take the page offline until next Sunday.
On that connection form page, make sure you capture an address, so you’ll know if the guest is local to you or not. Also, get kids names and ages, so you can connect with them by name in the future and even have them in your kid check-in system for when we’re back meeting in-person.
In your virtual meet-and-greet, keep it short, just long enough to greet each person, and see if anyone has any questions. The main action point is getting the local people to attend your virtual Guest Lunch NEXT Sunday after church. More on that below.
The gift you give could be for coffee, food, a local business, or even Amazon. There are lots of options that start as low as $5 and can be sent as a code in an email that can be redeemed online or printed and used at a store. You may have a local business owner who would be willing to donate gift cards to their business.
We recommend the 1x1x1x1 method for the week after Easter.
Monday: One Hand-Written Card – Not a hand-signed form letter, a real written card. Be personal.
Tuesday: One text message – Just a quick “thank you” and a link to RSVP for the guest lunch.
Wednesday: One Email – This can be longer than the text message, but still keep it short. Personalize it as much as you can since you met them at the meet-and-greet. Don’t forget the link to RSVP for the Guest Lunch if they have not already.
Thursday: One Phone Call – If you get the voicemail, keep it short and friendly and give them the RSVP URL for the Guest Lunch. If you get an answer, still keep it short, but be sensitive to the conversation in case they want a little of your time. Giving some personal time is a good opportunity to hear about their needs and pray for them.
*Pro Tip 1- Pay attention to who has signed up for the Guest Lunch and stop the sequence once they have. You don’t want to keep asking then to do something that they’ve already done.
*Pro Tip 2 – Like the virtual connection card URL, keep the Guest Lunch RSVP form also very easy and memorable such as www.yourchurch.com/RSVP or /lunch
Virtual Guest Lunch
If you do not already have guest lunches in your church, hopefully, this will be your starting point. It’s a great way to connect with people and help them get to know your church better. Every restaurant in town is doing delivery now, so this will be a great way to support your local economy and make a memorable time for your guests. This will be another Zoom meeting like you did for your meet-and-greet so that people can see each other and interact with you. The lunch should be less than an hour and focus on two primary things.
First, talk about the vision of your church. Speak to who you are and what you’re working to accomplish together. (If you’re not chasing a big dream, then we’d love to help you identify what that dream is because we know one thing for sure. God has big plans for your church if you’ll go after it.)
Ultimately, your goal for this lunch (and the whole process) is to get a newcomer connected to your church in a group or class.
Relationships are central to discipleship. Therefore, the goal of your assimilation process should be to connect a guest into a group or class where they can begin to form Christ-centered relationships.
Here are a few ideas for group/class options:
- An existing virtual small group. A group may be intimidating for some people, but if you have groups that are already in progress, it may be a good option.
- A newcomers group. Some people may be more inclined to jump into a group where everyone is new.
- Bible Basics Group. Don’t assume your guests are all bible scholars. Hopefully, they’re not even believers yet so that you can introduce them to Jesus.
- Support Groups. This health crisis is a difficult time for most people. If you have the human resources to manage a group that can help people cope, it may be a hit.
As you follow along through the flowchart, there will be connection points in which guests do not move forward with you. Make sure you build into your system secondary procedures to get them to re-engage. If you plan guest lunches monthly, then there’s always next month or another time in the future. Be welcoming and available.
Be blessed and remember to focus on what you can do this Easter, not what you can not do. Nothing can stop Christ’s church!
A.J. Mathieu is the President of the Malphurs Group. He is passionate about helping churches thrive and travels internationally to teach and train pastors to lead healthy disciple-making churches. A.J. lives in the Ft. Worth, Texas area, enjoys the outdoors, and loves spending time with his wife and two sons. Click here to email A.J.