We recently moved, not just moved to a different house, but moved to a different state!! When we arrived in our new town we decided to try a couple of churches that were recommended by friends. First church we went to we loved! We were greeted as soon as we entered the parking area with a wave and a smile from a parking team member and after we parked were greeted again as we entered the building. So far, so good, but what happened after the Sunday service? We received an email a couple of days later and we also received a phone call. I don’t actually answer phone calls if I don’t recognized the number so they left a nice message inviting us back. Second church was just okay. We arrived early, I guess we were too early because even though the doors were unlocked and we were able to go inside, volunteers were standing around talking but did not engage with us. 15 minutes before the start of the service they opened the doors and then started to engage with people. We received an email 4 days later inviting us to return. Even though we enjoyed the message and the worship music, it’s not a church I would want to attend because we did not feel welcome when we arrived. Third church, oh my stars!! Not so good! There were volunteers inside looking at you as you opened the doors to enter the building! We walked around the lobby and even into the kids area without ever being addressed. There was a parking team member, one parking team member, trying to direct cars as they exited and it was just not enough! Total chaos as we left. We did receive a handwritten note three days later, that was nice!! Right?!?
First impressions matter! So does the follow up!! Everyone has their own expectations for first time guest follow up, whether they realize it or not!! I was expecting an email, a phone call, a handwritten note, and an invitation to learn more about the church! Probably because that is how we would follow up with someone at the church I was on staff with! We chose our strategy for follow up to try and reach all ages and communication styles to the best of our ability! Here are our four steps;
1. We sent an email thanking each guest for choosing to spend their day with us on the day they visited after the last service ended.
2. A handwritten note was sent to each guest family by Tuesday following their visit welcoming and again thanking them for choosing to attend our church.
3. A phone call was made by Thursday welcoming them and thanking them for visiting, as well as asking if they have any questions we could help answer about the church.
4. An email invitation was sent on Thursday inviting new guests to attend our discover class. This class would introduce them to the church and give them the opportunity to partner with (or join) the church.
We found that the handwritten notes and the welcome email received on Sunday were the most impactful to our guests!! We found out about that because they answered their first time guest phone call and told us! Attached is a generic welcome email that we used, maybe it will spur you on to create a welcome email for your church or organization!!