Gone are the days when a pastor asks visitors to raise their hands or stand up and be recognized — that is cringeworthy now. Guests at your church want anonymity until they need something or want to take the next step.
Is there a difference between a visitor and a guest? It’s all in the individual’s perspective, but when a visitor feel ready to be considered a guest at your church, be ready with a quick and easy way to gather the individual’s pertinent information. We’ll call this a visitors card.
Many people will not want to give you their contact information on their first visit. Here’s why: We live in a skeptical culture where a visitor doesn’t want to be identified until they feel ready. That can take several visits.
So when they’re ready, here are 5 ways to improve your church visitors card:
- Keep it short. The longer your visitor card is, the less likely it will be filled out. Consider the minimal information you need now. You can always add to their information later as you build their church management database entry. Some digital forms let you do that automatically.
- Make it digital as well as printed. Don’t assume someone will want to fill out a form with a pen. Digital forms are usually easy to do on a smartphone, and they also eliminate transcription errors. Still, a printed card can act as a visual reminder. The card should include a QR code that leads to a digital form on your “about” or “new?” webpage as well as space for those who want to manually write in their information. Be sure to have a pen nearby.
- Have a call to action. When you request information, remember it costs a guest a lot to fill it out, even if it’s just the cost of giving you information. Therefore, lead them to something that’s of value for submitting the card. Reward them in some way — with information a visitor may need, a usable gift or a way to step into a discipleship journey toward salvation, baptism or church membership.
- Explain how the information will be used. Always disclose why you’re collecting information and what you’ll do with it. Be brief and be honest. Every person wants to protect their privacy. Assure them you’ll protect it.Have your visitors cards readily available in the pew or chair area, at a guest center or as a digital form on your website so guests can access them easily.
- Once you have the information, use it — perhaps for analytics, follow-up or valuable guest demographics. If you really don’t need the information to improve your first impressions or responses or to help your guest feel honored, then don’t ask for it.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Mark MacDonald is a communication pastor, speaker, consultant, bestselling author, church branding strategist for BeKnownforSomething.com and executive director of Center for Church Communication, empowering 10,000+ churches to become known for something relevant (a communication thread) throughout their ministries, websites, & social media. His book, Be Known for Something, is available at BeKnownBook.com.
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