EVANGELISM: THE VISITOR FOLLOW-UP MINISTRY
By: Tim Massengale
An effective Visitor Follow-up Program should be a high priority in every church. As was already mentioned, your visitors are your best prospects. Why? For several reasons:
1) Ninety percent know someone within your church, so they belong to someone’s “oikos.” Most churches have few “walk-ins.”
2) They are searching for something or they normally would not have come.
3) They have felt the power of God in your service.
4) Most important, the Word of God has been planted in their heart by the power of preaching.
5) And finally, most all that receive the Holy Ghost in our services have come more than one time. Having now come the first time, we can begin working on getting them back second. Each visit increases their
chances of coming to the altar.
For a church to neglect so great an opportunity as their visitors, and spend money, time and effort on a less likely prospect, is poor judgement. Every effort should be given to make that visitor feel welcome, wanted, and involved in the service. We should roll out the red carpet, so to speak.
What makes a visitor feel comfortable and their visit a spiritual experience? Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, that ye have love one to another (John 13:35).” When love is honestly being expressed internally, visitors will sense a genuine welcome and concern. People do not feel welcome by the mechanical things we often do to welcome them (e.g., greeters at the door, filling out cards, or pulpit welcome). Instead, visitors sense welcome when saints go out of their way to speak to them and be friendly.
Assigned greeters are good. Everyone being a greeter is better. To this end the church must be taught and continually encouraged.
Then, after the guest leaves, every effort should be made to get them back. Many pastors have observed that if a person will come two or three times, they will usually make a move for God. So an important key to active altars is to get the first-time visitor back!
There are four basic steps to good visitor follow-up which even the smallest church will be able to perform (even if the pastor must do them all himself). These are:
a. A phone call. Every visitor should be telephoned the day after their visit. The conversation should be very short and simple. Perhaps something like:
Hi, this is JoAnn from First Pentecostal Church. Pastor Morton asked me to call and let you know how much he appreciated you visiting with us in service this past Sunday, and if there is anything else we can
do, please let us know!”
The intent of the call is to simply leave a warm feeling in the heart of the visitor. It should be low key and not pushy in any way. Rather, the visitor should put the phone down thinking, “My, that was mighty considerate of them!” The call says “we care.”
b. A personal letter. The pastor’s personal letter should arrive a few days latter. It should also be warm, caring, and not give the impression of being a “form letter.” A sample visitor’s letter is provided at the end of this section.
c. A personal visit. The visit is the most important part. A growing church of 100 that is strongly encouraging it members to bring visitors should be giving out an average of ten to twelve visitor follow-up assignments each week. The visits will be made by the pastor, his full-time staff, and selected saints within the church.
Those doing the visiting must be trained in how to visit properly. They must not be pushy or offensive in any way. Your follow-up staff are usually not volunteers – they are drafted. They should be the best we have to offer. We can’t allow just anyone to visit our very best prospects. They should know how to present themselves properly and be kind and polite.
It is here that a home Bible study will be offered, if one is not already going. Those visiting should know how to introduce the home Bible study and explain it in a way that the visitor would want to accept one. This can be one of your best sources of Bible studies if done properly – you should see at least 25% of your visitors accept one. We will visit this person at least four times, as long as they are receptive, over the period of one year.
d. A church bulletin for one year. All visitors should be placed on your church mailing list. If your church has a bulletin or newsletter, this should be mailed to them each month. What this does is keeps some
kind of contact with them for an extended time. It reminds them that we are here and that we care. It also informs them of any special services or programs that we have coming up. And most important, it says to them, “you are no longer a stranger here, you are welcome, you belong.”
So, in light of the above, what kind of Visitor Follow-up program do you have – weekly or weakly? Surely, if a person cared enough to take time out of their busy schedule, get cleaned and dressed up, then drive several miles to visit our services – we should be willing to do the same for them. We should exemplify Christian love and concern for their soul.
Research has shown that most people come to God as a result of a crisis:
A death in the family, marital problem, sickness, financial difficulties, and others. It is at these times that a person cries out for help, realizing their need for God. You cannot force a person to live for God, they must want to. For this reason, the visitor follow-up ministry must not try to push a person, or pressure them into a decision or Bible study. Rather, it should simply express our sincere love and care for them as people. Then, when they go through a crisis, and suddenly they see their need of God, they will ask themselves,
“where can I find Him? I know! That church I visited! They have been so kind. They made be feel so welcome. They have visited, written letters, telephoned, mailed their bulletin . . . and I felt God there!
That’s where I’m going to go!”
That is exactly what we want them to think.
The following is a basic outline of how a church of most any size might start an effective follow-up ministry:
1. A church should have trained hosts or hostesses at the front door of each service. Each visitor should be asked to fill out a Guest Card (samples are provided at the end of this section). It is important that this card be filled out in full, especially showing who brought or invited them.
2. These cards are then given to the Visitor Follow-up Director. The director will photocopy this card four times and give to the following people (if possible, that same night):
a) Church Secretary or Typist – This person will send a visitor letter from the pastor (a sample is provided). She should also add the name to the church mailing list for future mailings.
b) Telephone caller – This individual will call each visitor the next day. Conversation should be as was explained above.
c) Home Bible Study Director – This person should call the person who brought or invited the visitor and encourage them to ask their friend or acquaintance for a Bible Study. If needful, the Bible Study Director will provide a teacher if the saint will only ask their friend and set it up.
d) The Pastor – He may wish to call or visit the visitor personally, or file for future reference and follow-up.
3. The Visitor Follow-up Director then calls each person who brought a visitor. This is important for two reasons: First, a visit may not be productive at this point. If the situation is delicate, and a visit would hurt their chances of getting the visitor back again, the person who invited them would normally know.
Second, we need to double check the information on the Guest Card. Sometimes names are hard to pronounce or read, information is incomplete, or additional information is needed in order to make an
effective visit – age, church affiliation, marital status, etc. This and more can often be obtain from the person that invited them, thereby making the visit more effective.
It is from this conversation that the Visitor Follow-up Card information is obtained. The back of this card provides a place to record the results of the visits. If no person invited or brought the visitor, the information from the Guest Card is simply transferred onto the Visitor Follow-up Card and we follow-up as best we can. A sample Visitor Follow-up Card is provided at the end of this section.
4. The director then assembles the Visitor Follow-up Packet materials:
a) The Follow-up Packet – This is a standard “9 x 6 inch” envelope that is used to put all follow-up materials in. On the front of this envelope should be glued/taped a copy of the “Your Visitor Follow-up Assignment” lay-out, and on the back should be glued/taped “The Seven Laws of Visitor Follow-up” (see the sample provided at end of this section). The outside of the packet should then be laminated in plastic. Make up about eight or ten of these. You will use them over and over.
b) The Visitor Follow-up Card – This is the complete information on the visitor. Fill out as complete as possible.
c) Photocopy of a map section – It is very effective if you can purchase a “key map” of your area, or take a city map and cut it into 8 x 10″ squares. From the person that invited the visitor, find out as close as you can where the house is located. Photocopy that map square and circle the location/street in red on the photocopy. This will greatly improve the follow-up procedure.
d) Home Bible Study Tract or Brochure – To be used in talking to the visitor about a Bible Study. This is the main purpose of the visit.
e) Home Bible Prospect Slip – To be used if the visitor is interested in a Bible Study. If so, the day and time for the study should be set up “on the spot.” This is important! It can later be changed after the first lesson, if need be. This is called “closing the sale!” This slip is then given to the Home Bible Study Director.
f) A Church Card – To be used in inviting the visitor back to church. Should have the address, phone numbers, and service times.
g) Materials “b” through “f”- should go into the Visitor Follow-up Packet.
5. On the front of the packet should be taped (or use a “post-it”note) a piece of paper with the date when the follow-up visit should be completed and the packet returned.
6. To obtain people for visitation work, the pastor and follow-up director should sit down and make up a list of those individuals in your church who would be best suited for this ministry. These are then “drafted.” The best type people to use will fit three criteria:
a. Warm, friendly, and have an ability to make friends.
b. Has empathy for people’s hurts, hopes, and needs. A caring person.
c. A strong burden for souls. Must realize that stressing the home Bible study is not being pushy, but showing true love.
The pastor should also be involved in visitor follow-up visitation but only in the smallest of churches should he do it all himself. Visitor follow-up will provide a large number of Bible studies if you use
quality people. Not just “anybody” should be used. How many people do you need? Double the average number of visitors you have each week. These people must be trained!
7. If possible, try to “match up” the visitors to your follow-up staff by age, interests, marital status, etc. – but this is not a requirement.
8. If you live in a large city, consider placing your follow-up staff’s names on a wall map with stick-pins. People should be assigned so that they do not have to drive too far away from their home area.
9. Hand out the packets to your follow-up staff on Bible study night. They should be given until Sunday to make their visit. Always call your staff Saturday evening to find how the visit went and to remind them to bring their packet back. They are prone to forget.
10. If when calling on Saturday evening, the follow-up visit has not yet been made, encourage them to make their visit on Sunday afternoon and return the packet Sunday night. This seems to work well.
11. All assignments should be listed on the “Weekly Visitor Follow-up Report” (sample provided at the end of this section). This will help you collect the packets you hand out. As you collect the packets, note if contact was made and if a Bible Study was obtained. The pastor should get a copy of this report each week, regardless if all the packets have come back or not.
12. The Follow-up Cards provide space on the back for four follow-up visits to be made. Make sure this is filled out in full after each visit. If the first visit went well, you will probably want to assign the same person to make the subsequent visits.
13. All visitors should be visited once every two to three months, or until a Home Bible Study is obtained (there is no need to visit them when the Bible study teacher is seeing them each week). If after the fourth visit, no progress is being made, you may wish to drop them from the follow-up list.
Note: Do not visit the visitor every week. This irritates them. The “high-pressure” approach seldom works.
14. All follow-up cards in which contact was made should be paper-clipped together and the date of the next visit – two months later-taped to the front. These should be then filed in a card file. Check your files each week and when the date posted on the front comes up, they should be reassigned for another visit.
Well, there you have it. A step-by-step approach to effective follow-up on visitors. An approach that doesn’t beg people to come to church, as if by coming they are doing God a favor. But instead, it presents the opportunities that living for God – as well as being a part of a loving, caring fellowship – can bring.
Visitor Follow-up Assignment Card FRONT
Two Major Cross Streets_________________________________________________
Friends/Relatives in Church_____________________________________________
Assignment Card BACK
First Contact Date______________ Your Name(s)___________________________
Second Contact Date_____________ Your Name(s)___________________________
Third Contact Date______________ Your Name(s)___________________________
Fourth Contact Date_____________ Your Name(s)___________________________
Has visitor attended again since first visit?___________________________
Are visits making progress?_____________________________________________
Do you recommend more visits?___________________________________________
WEEKLY VISITOR FOLLOW-UP REPORT
From VFU Director to the Pastor
Visitors Name | Persons Visiting |Contact? |H.B.S.?| Reason or Results
| | | |
| | | |
| | | |
| | | |
| | | |
| | | |
| | | |
| | | |
| | | |
| | | |
| | | |
Total First- | | | |
Time Visits_____| Total | Total | Total |
Total Assignmts.| Workers |Contacts| H.B.S.|
_______ | | | |
The following form is used if a HBS is obtained from the follow-up visit
Home Bible Study Contacts
Study is for: Group_______________ Single Individual_________________
Best: Day___________________________ Time____________________________
Prospect’s interest is:
**Do YOU wish to teach this study?_______________
============================For Office Use Only=========================
Starting Date_____________ Day______________ Time_____________________
Training your VISTOR FOLLOW-UP workers
MAKE AN EFFECTIVE FOLLOW-UP VISIT
1. Remember that the key objective that you hope to accomplish on this visit is to get a home Bible study. You want to help them – and the Word of God can solve their problems.
2. Before going to the door, decide the exact time you plan to leave. Don’t stay too long.
3. Pray with your partner before ringing the doorbell. You should ask God to allow you to genuinely help this individual and show Christ’s love.
4. Dress neat, yet casual. People form their impressions by what you wear and say. You can never make a second “first impression.”
5. Stand to the side of the door in a non-threatening position as you knock. Do not stand in an aggressive stance that suggest intrusion.
6. Smile! You may feel nervous, but try not to show it.
7. Begin the visit with who they are, not with yourself. “Mrs. Smith? Hi! My name is __________, and this is ___________, and we are from Eastbrook Tabernacle. It was so good for you and your family to visit with us this last Sunday! We wanted to stop by and let you know how much we appreciated your visit and, if you are not busy, we’d like to visit with you for a minute.” NOTE: Don’t say, “We were in the area and thought we’d drop by.” This sounds false (and it is).
8. If possible, focus on Jesus, not the church program. Should they ask questions about the church, share with them the love and fellowship that your church has, not it’s physical attributes.
9. During the visit, share in mutual ways. Avoid asking excessive questions. Although questions are a good way to launch a conversation, you don’t want to sound as if you are giving an “interrogation” to discover
information. The purpose of the visit is to establish the beginnings of a relationship. Share with them, as well as asking them to share with you.
10. The main purpose of the visit is to offer a home Bible study. After light conversation, simply ask as the opportunity presents itself, “Have you heard about our Home Bible Study program? No? Let me tell you about it! It is often good to have a “Mini-Chart” to show them. Stress that the purpose of the study is not to push church membership, but to provide those who want to know more of the Word of God the opportunity to do so.
11. If they would like a study, set up the day and time right then! Don’t say, “someone will call you to set it up.” This rarely works. We will have someone there at that time to teach the first lesson. We can rearrange a better time later if it’s needed.
12. Leave while the visit is still on an upswing. Don’t wait until it has started downhill. There are two reasons for this. First, whatever level you leave a visit, you will pick up at that same point the next time you visit. Second, some of the deepest sharing of hurts and hopes will occur as you move toward the door. It is important to leave soon enough so that this process can occur. If you stay an hour and then move to leave, the person will simply be glad you are gone.
13. End the visit by focusing on them, not giving an excuse for leaving. Don’t say, “Well, I must go. I have a meeting at the church.” It is better to say, “Mary, we have enjoyed our visit together. We look forward to
having you visit us again at Eastbrook Tabernacle. It’s been good to be with you.”
14. Before leaving, ask to have a word of prayer together at the door. Pray for them and their needs. Ask God’s blessing upon their home and family. This is very important!
(The above material was adapted from Twelve Key To An Effective Church, by Kennon L. Callahan.)
SAMPLE LETTER FOR VISITORS
3837 Keystone Ave.
Woodland, CA 95695
My wife and I are so happy that you chose to be in service with us this past Sunday. It was a real joy for us to break the Bread of Life and share it with you. We know you must have felt the same beautiful presence of the Lord as the rest of us.
Tom, these are the most exciting days in the Kingdom of God that we have ever experienced. As you probably noticed here at the United Pentecostal Church, revival fires are burning brightly. We are seeing a return of the people of God to basic fundamental doctrines and heart felt New Testament worship. As a result, we are seeing more miracles! More conversions! More baptisms! And our faith is reaching new dimensions in Jesus Christ.
We are interested in you and your family. If there is a place in your heart and life for a Pastor who wants to see you possess the best that God has and for a Pastor who really cares, then we offer our ministry to you. If
there are any pastoral services that we may render to you, whether in prayer, in counseling, in spiritual guidance, by answering your questions, or just by being a friend, please give us a call at any time, night or day.
Tom, you know, of course, that you are always welcome here at the United Pentecostal Church and we look forward to your next visit when we will break bread together again. God’s richest blessings be upon you and your family. Join us again soon.
Sincerely, because I care,
Pastor Dave Johnson
United Pentecostal Church
P.S. As an expression of our genuine concern, we would like to offer you and your family a free Home Bible Study. This study is available in the privacy of your home and covers the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. We are sure you will be richly blessed by it. Someone from our church family will contact you in a few days.
Training Follow-up Workers:
SEVEN LAWS OF VISITOR FOLLOW-UP
1. SMILE AND INTRODUCE YOURSELF
“Hi! My name is ___________ and I’m from the United Pentecostal Church. You visited with us last ___________. We just stopped by to say hello, and if your not busy, we’d like to visit with you for a minute.”
2. BE FRIENDLY!
Suggestion – ask THEM questions to get THEM talking.
*Was this your first visit to a Pentecostal Church?
*Did you enjoy the service?
*Do you attend any Church regularly?
*So you know _________! How did you meet him (her)?
But don’t ask so many questions that it sounds like an interrogation!
3. MAIN PURPOSE OF THE VISIT – TO GET A HOME BIBLE STUDY!
Simply ask – “Have you heard about our Bible Study Program? No? Let me tell you about it!
4. IF THEY ARE INTERESTED IN HAVING A BIBLE STUDY
Fill out the H.B.S. prospect slip. Notice: If you wish to teach this Bible Study yourself, make a not of this on the prospect slip.
5. INVITE THEM BACK TO CHURCH
(Give them a church card)
6. IF THEY HAVE ANY SPECIAL NEEDS:
(The above material was prepared and published by Tim Massengale from Total Church Growth. You can order the complete 2 volume set from the Pentecostal Publishing House.)
HOME BIBLE STUDY INFO: