Most community-focused churches welcome new visitors on a weekly basis. And holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter are always busy times when visitors enter the doors.
Making first-time visitors feel especially welcome starts from the moment they turn into the parking lot and extends long past the time the service ends. But follow-up can be a challenge if you don’t get newcomers’ information.
Here are three of the BEST times to get visitor information — graciously.
Get Visitor Information 10 Minutes Prior to Service
When visitors first arrive and the congregation slowly files into service, it’s a great time to gather information. At minimum, collect names and emails so you can follow up with a nice message. If you collect other information, a pastoral call or even a visit may be in order.
Ten minutes prior to service is generally considered the “cut-off point” for collecting information. Any later than that and you run the risk of having visitors feel rushed and uncomfortable when the service starts. Always allow visitors time to get their bearings, take in the sanctuary, and meet those sitting nearby.
Get Visitor Information During Children’s Church Registration
If your visitors include young people, you can easily receive their information when they register their kids for children’s church. Parents are almost always proactive about providing their phone number and address to ensure workers are able to contact them if a need arises. This is one of the few times you can gather a good amount of information without making it appear like the request is over-reaching. And good Church Management Software can sync this information with the overall church directory.
Get Visitor Information During the Offering Time
Offering time is often a great time to publicly welcome visitors from the platform and request that they fill out a welcome card. Because this time usually allows a few moments for people to fill out checks and ushers to walk the aisles, there’s plenty of time for visitors to fill out a simple card.
Be wary of requesting too much information on a welcome card. Asking for names and emails is fine, but requesting children’s names, ages, ministries they might be interested in, and status of salvation may be too much for a first-time visitor to fill out during this short period. Keep it simple and you’re more likely to have a better response.
Exchange Visitor Information with a Gift
In today’s world, many visitors are hesitant to give away personal information. The deluge of junk mail, marketing emails and sales calls have made everyone want to keep their contact information close to their vest. Privacy concerns expand far beyond the tech industry.
An offering of a nice gift is a great way to break the ice and initiate an exchange of information. Giving visitors a nice water cup, a coupon for the coffee shop, candy or a journal, allows you to open the door for asking them to fill out a contact card. Plus, it provides goodwill, blesses them, and even can be an indicator to members that someone is visiting for the first time.
Anytime is the Best Time to Get Visitor Information
Anytime a visitor feels welcome is the best time to ask for their information. If you’re looking for new ways to make visitors feel welcome into your church, including an entire list of items to include in a welcome packet, download our ebook, How to Make Visitors Feel Welcome today.