Tag Archive | Visitors Ministry

Follow-Up Workers

TRAINING VISITOR FOLLOW-UP WORKERS
CG0048.TXT

All visitation has several elements in common-elements that should be discussed in preparation for visitation. In some instances these elements can be shared in writing; at other times they should be
discussed in a group setting. They are as follows:
1. Prayer
2. Purpose
3. An accepting attitude
4. A conviction that people need the gospel
5. Caring
6. Listening
7. Responding
8. Inviting
9. Thanking

Prayer

Prayer is the single essential element of every activity engaged in by the church and its members. This is especially true of evangelistic visitation. The apostle Paul told the Corinthians that he planted the seed and Apollos watered it, “but God made it grow” (1 Corinthians 3:6). He advises the Colossians, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our
message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should” (Colossians 4:2-4).

Evangelistic visitors are utterly dependent upon God to give the increase. Strengthened and supported by prayer, callers can go out knowing they are partners with God in the great gospel harvest. But God expects to be asked to give the harvest. He will honor the prayers of the harvesters.

It is important to pray for the callers. Whether they are calling once a year or on a weekly basis, they always face a number of unknowns: Will they be put on the spot with questions they cannot answer? Will someone be angry at them for interrupting a quiet evening at home? Will they be made to feel like fools? Will they
conduct themselves as worthy representatives of Jesus Christ! It is only as such fears are laid to rest before the God of all grace that courage returns.

Prayer for the people on whom the church calls is also important. In most cases they will not know beforehand that they are to have visitors. They are often unprepared to be invited to a church activity, to give information about themselves, or to consider the direction of their lives. Only God can prepare
their hearts and arrange for a “divine appointment” so that afterward they say, “Those people came at exactly the right time.” Experienced evangelism callers have often found that they called on a person just when that person needed such a visit. This is the Holy Spirit’s work in answer to prayer.

Prayer restores perspective. There are always more things to be done in the church than there is time to do them.  Frequently this means that members’ needs will be met while unbelievers’ needs are neglected. When the church asks, “Lord,  hat would you have us do?” God calls the church back to its priorities-one of which is to love one’s neighbors and invite them to the heart and home of God. Prayer gives the church new
vision for this great task and thus enables callers to do their work with renewed energy and the confidence that they are doing the work of God.

Finally, prayer enables callers to make their visits with a positive, expectant attitude. God will answer; the work will bear fruit! The callers can affirm with Paul, “God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord” (2 Timothy 1:7-8). Those who go out in such a spirit will often be surprised at what God has in store for them and will return from their visits with thanksgiving and praise. A church demonstrates its emphasis on prayer in the  following ways:

* The devotional practices of members engaged in evangelism calling will be urgent, fervent, and frequent.

* Congregational prayers from the pulpit will regularly mention the work of missions and evangelism.

* Prayer groups in the church will remember the evangelism callers by name as well as those on whom they call.

* Every evangelism caller will have one or more prayer partners who hear regular reports and pray for the specific needs of the person with whom they are in partnership.

* Whenever possible, callers will give a brief report after each calling period. Together they will join in thanksgiving to God for his grace and strength.

Purpose

A calling program or a single visitation drive needs a definite objective. The church should decide in advance why it is doing this calling, what results it expects, and what it is going to do with the results. When specific objectives are set, the church will know afterwards whether or not it has been successful. If the objective has been reached, celebrate and thank God! If the objective has not been reached, the church
should still celebrate and give thanks for what has been accomplished and carefully analyze what happened and why, so that on a future occasion corrections can be made.

Once a church sets the objective it should write an action plan, make assignments, and recruit people. It is much easier to recruit and train people when everyone knows what is expected of them, what the objectives are, and how much time the assignment will require.

Following is an example of clear objectives and a well-planned program.

Fellowship Church has an active Coffee Break and Story Hour program (evangelistic Bible study for women with a children’s program). In addition, the church wants to start one or more Men’s Life groups  (evangelistic Bible study for men). Several women have dropped out of the Coffee Break program, leading the church to decide it needs a major effort to recruit new participants. Its objectives, therefore, are to recruit at least ten new Coffee Break participants and five Men’s Life participants. The objective is to be accomplished by a visit to every home in a designated area with an invitation.

The action plan calls for thirty teams of callers to visit homes in the community on the Sunday afternoon before Coffee Break and Men’s Life begin. A small committee is appointed to design and print doorknob hangers, map out the blocks to be visited, and recruit the callers. Each assignment has a deadline. The
recruitment is accomplished by means of an information sheet that describes the need and the responsibility of each calling team. Members can sign up by signing a sheet posted in an appropriate place
in the church or by calling a designated coordinator.

When the Sunday for calling approaches, members offer prayers from the pulpit and again in the afternoon when the calling teams come together. Teams receive last-minute instructions and assignments; they are to ring doorbells and extend a personal invitation along with the printed one. If no one is at home, the callers are to leave printed information on the doorknob. In the Sunday evening service, the pastor thanks the callers and offers prayer for those who received the invitations.

The above is an example of what actually happened in one congregation. As a result, ten new women and some children came the following Wednesday morning. No new participants came to the Men’s Life group, however. This confirmed previous indications that women who are at home during the day can be recruited by means of a visitation program, but men are usually recruited only by personal invitation from someone they already know.

Fellowship Church set objectives, planned and prepared well, and contacted well over 1,000 homes. The church slipped, however, when the following week’s Sunday bulletin did not thank those who came out or report the results.

A church can write similar objectives and action plans for a community survey, new resident visitation, worship visitor follow-up, and so on.

An Accepting Attitude

This is one of the most difficult lessons to learn. Many believers find it difficult to adopt an attitude that does not judge those on whom they call for their sins and weaknesses, but instead empathizes with people and announces good news. People are responsible for the moral decisions they make, but until they become Christians they have few standards to go by and no power to choose what is right and pleasing to God. The Holy Spirit-not human persuasion convicts people of sin and leads them in obedient listening to God’s Word.

Evangelistic callers sometimes encounter situations and circumstances of which they cannot approve. They must learn, however, to look beyond the circumstances to the person and minister with love and concern to that person. Frequently such persons will already feel guilty; there is no need for the visitor to add to that guilt. Instead, effective visitors think of themselves as bearers of the good news of Jesus Christ, who
can deliver people from darkness. The temptation to “tell unbelievers like it is” should be replaced by the urge to tell what life could be like when Christ is at the center and grace triumphs over sin.

A Conviction that People Need the Gospel

There are many things that motivate the church to share with others the good news of Jesus Christ: the grace experienced through Jesus’ death and resurrection, daily gratitude, and the growth that the Master expects. Common to all these is the conviction that people need the gospel. They need to hear it, see it in action, believe it, and experience its power in their own lives. The only way to life is through the gospel, for “it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).

As gospel stewards, believers possess an infallible instrument that can deliver all who hear and believe. To deny one’s neighbor the privilege of hearing this gospel and seeing it in action is to withhold the greatest solution to their needs. Love and obedience spur the church on to use every possible means to reach the lost.

These convictions must be engraved on the hearts and minds of church visitors. This will give urgency to their task and help them overlook the disappointments and frustrations that may be a part of any calling program. Where such convictions are lacking, churches will find it difficult to recruit church members for visitation and the calling that does take place will lack the edge of genuine concern.

Caring

The caller who has adopted a positive and accepting attitude toward people and who longs to share with them the good news has taken the fundamental steps toward caring about people in a Christian way. From this base the church goes on to see people as entire persons who experience a variety of needs. Longtime believers sometimes take for granted that the church is a community of believers that often cares for its members in such a complete way that all their basic needs are met. But the unchurched do not have such a caring network and therefore have many unmet needs.

Psychologist Abraham Maslow summarized basic human needs in what is often called Maslow’s hierarchy of motivational values. At the bottom of this hierarchy are physical needs: bread on the table, a roof over one’s head, and a basic level of health. People will direct all their energies to meeting these needs when they are evident. Next are safety needs: people look for security, for freedom from fear, anxiety, and chaos. A person in danger of being shot will look for cover before thinking about the soul’s eternal welfare.

These two basic levels of need are taken care of in the fellowship of believers as people care for one  another, help one another, and pray for one another. Sometimes the church’s deacons will be involved. The early church recognized the importance of meeting these needs when it appointed the first deacons (Acts
6). The church’s mission program has frequently included food programs, medical help, and community development. God cares for the whole person, and gospel communication includes practical demonstration of this care.

A third level of human need is for love and belonging: people need a group where they belong and feel comfortable. Human beings were not created to live alone but in community, in which love and affection can be given and received. There is much hatred, sadness, and hurt in the world; but these can be at least partially eased by belonging to a group in which one feels at home. The fourth level of human need is for esteem: people need to receive recognition from others. They want to feel significant and needed. That is why most people object to being identified by a number or simply by race or nationality. This human need for individual recognition motivates people to achieve something or to be competent in at least one area.

The gospel speaks to these two levels of need. God loves even sinners and places them in the fellowship of the church. He gives them at least one spiritual gift so that they can excel in some ministry. In Jesus Christ, God bestows high honor: believers are ordained as prophets, priests, and kings.

Maslow’s highest level of human need is self-actualization: people working to realize their inner potential, destiny, and purpose. A Christian perspective sees this as grace working its daily miracles in the lives of believers so that they rise above their fallen nature and, living in the assurance of forgiveness, express their
new nature as the royal sons and daughters of the King.

Others have pointed out that parallel with the need of self-actualization are two other needs: the need to know and understand ourselves and the world we live in plus the need for order and beauty. Believers satisfy the need to understand through the sermons they hear and the educational ministries of the church. The need for order and beauty is at least partially satisfied in worship services that take place in a pleasant sanctuary and a carefully planned liturgy in which music has a prominent role.

Why is an understanding of these human needs important to evangelism and to evangelistic visitation in particular? George Hunter (The Contagious Congregation) says that “effective communication of the gospel begins with a demonstration of its relevance. Human beings have many motives, but Christianity is armed with a multi-faceted gospel, and every basic human need or motive is matched by some distinguishable facet of the gospel-which is one of the reasons why the gospel is good news.”

Therefore the church must keep human needs in mind when designing its evangelistic strategy. Evangelistic callers make sure they are ready to talk to people in terms of their desires. This means being sensitive to people as human beings with unique problems and desires. Visitors work hard at getting to know those on whom they call. Visitation is never a matter of barging in with the gospel but of seeking to help people and minister to them. It involves the church’s entire resources-material as well as spiritual-so that people can hear the gospel in the context of love for the whole person.

Listening

It is often said that in evangelistic conversation the ear is more important than the mouth. Research has demonstrated that the caller who comes across as a teacher will have few converts; the caller who comes across as a salesperson will have more converts, but many of these will not pursue the confession they have made. The caller who comes across as a friend, however, will have converts who maintain their new profession. One of the chief characteristics of the friendship conversation is sympathetic listening, focusing on the other person in order to discover what makes the good news good for that person.

Listening is a skill that can be learned with a little practice. A caller’s ability and willingness to listen may mean the difference between a visit in which no relationship is established and one in which relationship is established and an opportunity presented to explain the good news on this or a subsequent visit. The basic skill in listening is to determine the feelings expressed in a statement and to respond to the feeling in a way that encourages further explanation.

In evangelistic visitation, visitors will meet all kinds of circumstances and problems that require careful,
nonjudgmental Listening: marital breakup, alcoholism, drug abuse, depression, bitterness toward the church, and so on.  A person may say,  I went to church one time. What a ridiculous sermon! He
talked about some guy who was swallowed by a big fish. Church is a big joke.  Or,  You’re from the church? I’m not interested. My brother-in-law is a church member, but he’s too good to come here because my
boyfriend and I live together.

The temptation to defend, preach, warn, advise, lecture, judge, or humor will be strong. What is needed, however, is a response that communicates openness to further conversation without prejudging anyone or any situation.

Listening requires that the visitor try to stand in the shoes of the other person. Can you think like that person! Enter into that person’s world with all its pain and emotion?

Careful listeners will sometimes discover circumstances and needs that are beyond their ability to deal with. In such cases they will seek to bring someone else into the picture if there is openness for a return visit, or refer the person to another source of help.

An excellent initial training program in effective listening is the three-hour workshop Stop! Love and Listen (available from Church Development Resources).

Responding

After the callers have listened carefully and tried to discern the needs of the people they are visiting, they will need to respond. Of course, the visitors will have made comments during the discussion, but at the end of the discussion they must decide what message to leave at that point in the relationship. Perhaps the time is right to begin an explanation of the gospel; more often, however, the callers will offer to help in some concrete way or suggest a church program that may be helpful. Sometimes it may be appropriate to refer the person to another church or agency. Or the caller may offer to research the resources that are available and return for a second visit with the information. Even saying “I don’t know how to respond” can be an honest way to advance the relationship. There are times when the most appropriate response is a simple “Thank you.” This especially happens when the visit is simply to elicit information or when the visitors discover that those they call on are already believers and active members of a congregation. In such cases no return visit is necessary.

The temptation is to bring a message-to preach. On the first visit, however, the primary “message” to bring is that the church and its members are genuinely interested in their neighbors. Experienced and sensitive visitors soon learn to discern when it is appropriate to give a step-by-step gospel presentation.

An important principle to observe here is that the caller’s response should be phrased in such a way that the door of this home remains open to the caller and, hopefully, to the church. One of the most significant things a visit accomplishes is an open door to continue the conversation in the future.

Inviting

The gospel is a declaration of what God has done in Jesus Christ and, at the same time, an invitation to new life. Even where the situation is not ripe for a formal explanation of the gospel, the caller can usually give some kind of invitation. If the visitation is simply to elicit information or to complete a survey, the caller can offer an invitation to visit the worship services of the church. At other times the entire purpose of the visitation may be to invite people to a particular activity.

Sometimes the invitation may be spoken; at other times it may come in the form of a written pamphlet about the church and its ministry, a gospel pamphlet, or a complete gospel presentation. Whatever form it takes, an invitation of some kind can be a part of every visit.

Thanking

All evangelistic visitation should be marked by an unfailing courtesy and cheerfulness. Visitors represent Jesus Christ; they should remember that a person may judge Christ and the church by the impression they leave. Callers should thank even the person who expresses no interest at all in the church and its message. A brief but courteous conversation may lead to further interest in the church.

This same rule of unfailing courtesy precludes arguing with people. Though visitors may be sorely tempted in some occasions, they do well to suppress that urge. Guests do not argue with their host. Even if they win the argument, the door will be closed more firmly than ever before.

In conclusion, characteristics of an effective visit are the following:

* Brevity – especially when the visit is unannounced. In some cultures it would be impolite to pay only a brief visit. In North America, however, only very good friends can expect to drop in and stay a while. If the initial visit is brief, the possibility of future visits is greater.

* Courtesy. Visitors do not engage in arguments; they avoid excessive familiarity or probing into personal circumstances.

* Bridge building. The gospel is heard best when presented in terms of the hearers’ needs and in a relationship of mutual trust.

* An open door for a return visit. Since friendship is a key to gospel communication, a visit is successful when another visit is welcomed. The return visit can be arranged in advance or left open.

* Genuine concern. The focus of the visit is the person’s needs rather than church’s or the caller’s needs. In other words, the church asks, “Is there something we can do for you?”

Equipping

Every kind of visitation requires training. Sometimes the training is very simple. For example, recruiting children for vacation Bible school requires only a pamphlet, a clear description of the area each person is to cover, and a couple of role plays. In fact, this kind of calling seems so easy that leaders may offer no preparation at all. That would be a mistake, however, since everyone feels more at ease with at least some instruction. People also volunteer more willingly if they are promised clear instructions and training.

Other kinds of calling require extensive training. Programs such as Evangelism Explosion, Congregational Evangelism Training, and Night of Caring require up to sixteen weeks of training while visitation is going on. Such training is valuable not only for harpening one’s evangelistic skills but also for spiritual growth. One disadvantage of such a program is that callers may feel compelled to make as many gospel  presentations as possible for the sake of learning the presentation. One strength, however, is that training takes place not only in a classroom setting but also while doing the calling: trainees always go out with an experienced caller who demonstrates how it is done. This is excellent training for any kind of evangelistic
visitation.

This manual can be put to good use in training sessions where the calling group spends forty-five minutes to an hour systematically going through each chapter. Frequent role-playing will strengthen such classroom training and produce skilled callers, who in turn can train others.

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Visitor Follow-Up Training

VISITOR FOLLOW UP TRAINING

By: Bro. Leon

Four points of V.F.U.:

1) Phone Call
2) Letter from Pastor
3) A personal visit
4) Receive church bulletin each month for 1 year

Assignments will be handed out on Bible Study Night or Prayer Meeting night, to be returned the following Sunday. Staff will visit on their own schedule.

Two main purposes of the visit:

1) To establish contact, be friendly and invite back
2) Obtain a HOME BIBLE STUDY (this is the main purpose)

Visits are to be completed within given time period.

New Converts are to receive at least two drop-in visits each month.

Visitors are our best prospects for the following reasons:

1) Ninety percent know somebody within the church.

2) They are searching for something or they would not have come.

3) They have felt the power of God in our service.

4) Most important, the Word of God has been planted in their heart by the power of preaching.

5) Most people that receive the Holy Ghost in our services have come more than one time.

We do not want to neglect our visitors but we want to roll out the red carpet, so to speak, for them.

A Personal Visit – The visit is the most important part of V.F.U. V.F.U. personnel must not be pushy or offensive in any way; should present themselves properly and be kind and polite; should introduce the Home Bible Study and explain in a way that the visitor would want to accept one.

Research has shown that most people come to God as a result of a crisis. (Death in family, marital problems, sickness, financial difficulties, etc.) A person cannot be forced to live for God, they must want to. Therefore, V.F.U. ministry must not try to push a person or pressure them into a Home Bible Study; it should simply express our sincere love and concern for them as a person. Then, when they go through a crisis, they will be aware of who to contact and where to go in their time of need.

(The original publisher of the above material is unknown.)

Making An Effective Follow-up Visit

By: Kennon L. Callahan

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 causal. 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 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 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 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 present itself, “Have you heard about out 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 have 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 appeared in Twelve Keys To An Effective Church.)

SAMPLE TELEPHONE CONVERSATION

Visitor Follow-up Procedures

Hello, is this the _______________________residence?

This is ____________________from _____________________. Pastor ____________
asked me to call and express his appreciation for your coming to our ______________this past weekend.

(Let them reply)

Well, we are so glad you enjoyed it! If we can help you in any other way, please let us know.

(Let them reply)

Oh, one more thing. Pastor _________ wanted to send all of our guests a letter of appreciation. Let me be sure I have your Name and address correct.

(Double check NAME, ADDRESS, CITY, AND ZIP)

Well, the Lord bless you. You are always welcome at ____________________!

THEY SHOULD “HEAR” YOU SMILE!!

(The original source and/or publisher of the above material is unknown.)

Christian Information Network

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Touch Seven Visitor Follow-Up Program

TOUCH SEVEN VISITOR FOLLOW-UP PROGRAM
BY RICH LYONS

Touch #1 (Phone call to visitor on Sunday Afternoon — 4p.m.)

Attempt to accomplish the following four things through this phone call:

1. Determine whether they are a receptive or responsive person or not. You will take notes on the conversation and establish a file on them if they are receptive. If they are not responsive — do not establish a file.

2. You should offer our/your personal ministry and services to them. You may determine what type of ministry/service they might require through the conversation. If you do arrange a service for them, he sure
that you record what you plan to provide. Then return to your file and record the results.

3. You should express a desire to visit their home and present to them a Friendship Packet from the church

4. You should close the conversation by telling them that someone will be contacting them to make an appointment for us to deliver the Friendship Packet to them.

Please be sure that you fill out the “Seven-Touch Program” work sheet as fully as you can.

Also, we must insure that the log Book is being filled out totally so that this program can be a success. If there is no information provided, we cannot function in this program!

Touch #2 (A personal letter from the pastor)

Dear

Let me personally thank you for visiting First Church; it was wonderful to have you worship with us! Because of the confusion that abounds in the world today, one needs the strength and peace that comes from a time of worship and fellowship with believers in the house of God.

At a time convenient for you, I would like to bring a Friendship Packet to your home. This packet of free material will help you to become acquainted with the various ministries of First Pentecostal Church. It
is our sincere desire to minister the Love of Christ.

Someone will telephone your home to determine the best time for a brief visit.

Again, thank you for worshipping with us, and may God’s best be yours.

Christian Love,

Touch #3 (Phone call to schedule appointment for visit)

This call should be made on Monday or Tuesday!

The secretary will make a phone call to the visitor to make an appointment for the visit in the home to deliver their Friendship Packet.

Indicate that you have several visits to make so the visit will be brief and will not take much of their time. They are more likely to be receptive if they know that the visit will be short.

In the phone call, friendliness is and should be overly emphasized. Cheerfulness throughout the conversation, no matter the outcome, is important. If you feel they desire to talk a little, then by all means
respond and be inquisitive to show concern.

Do not forget the major reason for your call is to schedule a good time to visit. The day, time and correct address should be confirmed. Be sure not to schedule anyone during a church service.

Do not be discouraged if they are not receptive — stay cheerful, and by all means, PRAY AS YOU CALL!!!

Touch #4 (Letter reminding of Friendship Packet visit)

Dear

Lasting friendships must be cultivated. For this reason (time of Apt) on (Day of Apt.) is an important time for both of us. Thank you for making this appointment to receive your Friendship Packet. My assistant
is excited about personally bringing it to you.

Thank you in advance for your hospitality. We Look forward to seeing you again soon.

Christian love,

Pastor’s Name

Touch #5 (The Friendship Packet visit)

Insure that your Friendship Packet is all there. Go through the Packet and go over in your mind what you want to say.

Go to the home, and when invited in, sit down and ask how they are doing and compliment them on the house, or yard, a piece of furniture you might find interesting, ask the ages of children that are there,
etc. , to break the ice.

Open your packet, and one-by-one go through it and explain each item which may ignite conversation. Salvation may occur during the visit.

Close out by shaking hands and offer them any help in counseling, Bible Studies or maybe they want prayer for themselves or their homes, etc.

Do not emphasize a now-or-never” salvation, but rather, offer them the opportunity to become a member of the Church. Let the Spirit lead.

After you leave, take notes on the results to be transferred to their personal file in the church office.

Touch #6 (Personal letter from the pastor)

Dear

We have enjoyed having you attend First Church and becoming better acquainted with you. The church is a haven of refuge from the complexities of modern life; we draw strength and encouragement from Christ and the people of Cod when we attend regularly. It is not only enjoyable — it is spiritual survival!

If you have enjoyed our fellowship and the Presence of God, we would like for you and your family to become part of our church family. First Church is a very special place! Here people from all walks of life find new life in Jesus Christ. We want you to join us! Please come along as we walk toward the gates of Heaven; you’ll be glad you did because Heaves is forever!

May God bless you! We would love to see and hear from you soon.

Christian Love,

Pastor’s Name

Touch #7 (Saturday phone call to remind them of service)

Call the visitor to remind them of the Sunday services and times.

Inquire of their well-being and offer any help they might need! If they can not make the service, remind them of Wednesday, or next week, or maybe a Bible Study they may be involved in. Again, record the results in their personal file.

THIS MATERIAL WAS UPLOADED TO THE AIS DATABASE BY BRO. LYONS ON 01-11-97 BRO. LYONS PASTORS IN MARSHALL, TX AND IS A UPCI MINISTER.

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Getting Visitor Information

Getting Visitor Information

Getting the names and addresses of first-time worship visitors is crucial. Without names and addresses, it becomes impossible to respond to their visit with a phone call, a letter from the pastor, and a home visit by laypersons. Without these responses, return rates of first-time visitors the following Sunday decrease significantly.

The average worship attendance at Colonial Hills United Methodist Church in San Antonio, Texas, grew from 431 — in 1980 to 846 in 1989. Yet, the congregation obtains the names of worship visitors with a procedure that seems to violate standard rules for success in this matter. In the typical congregation, registration pads are passed along the pews. This is ordinarily an excellent procedure, whereas the registration card system (with cards in the pew racks) rarely gets more than 60 percent of visitor names. But Colonial Hills places in the pew racks a yellow “Visitor Registration” slip and a blue “Member Registration” slip and gets almost 100 percent of visitor names and addresses.

How can this system possibly work, when what looks like the same procedure fails else where? Three factors make the Colonial Hills procedure quite different:

1) When the pastor calls for everyone to fill out the slips, nothing else happens in the service for several minutes. The positive peer pressure in a situation where everyone is asked to do this together significantly increases the likelihood that everyone will participate–provided that singing a hymn or something else is not going on at the same time.

(2) When the pastor announces this registration-slip procedure in the service, he indicates that “When we are finished filling out the forms, we will pass them down to the end of each pew and the ushers will come forward to pick them up.” This process, in contrast to those where the cards are placed in the offering plates, makes it likely that everyone will feel the need to participate.

(3) Both the members and the visitors fill out a slip. This “everyone is doing it” process increases the likelihood that everyone will fill out a slip. If only the visitors are asked to fill out something, many of them will disregard the procedure. Other advantages:

• Immediately after the sermon, volunteers in the church office enter the data from the yellow visitor cards into computers and make assignments for friendly contacts with these visitors, expressing appreciation for their presence in the worship service.

• With this system, members and visitors can write personal notes to the staff, make prayer requests, or send other signals of concern. This kind of communication could not happen on registration pads that pass along the pews, because of the lack of privacy inherent in that system.

What looks like a violation of successful principles is actually an application of those principles in a new way. As — is so often the case in the science of evangelism, what works does not always look like it will work–especially by leaders who have never practiced and perfected that particular procedure.

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First Contact

FIRST CONTACT
BY CHARLES ARN

Helping visitors move from being observers to participants takes a well-defined plan of action. Check out how these five principles can help your church become more effective in visitor follow-up.

Recently a pastor from a well-established church said he was surprised at how their approach to following up on visitors has changed over the last few years. They realized they had to be more intentional in their approach to newcomers. Here are five simple but very important principles that will help you increase the number of visitors who eventually become members of your church family. The more of these principles you practice, the more visitors will return.

Time Principle

Contact visitors within 48 hours of their visit. The first two days provide your best window for a follow-up contact with visitors. It need not be an unannounced visit to the home; in most communities a stranger knocking at the front door creates anxiety. The risk of offending your recent guest with an unannounced visit is far greater than any benefit of a face-to-face contact. The telephone is the medium of choice.

The caller should introduce who they are and explain that they called to thank the person for attending and answer any questions about the church. The caller can briefly share the theme of next week’s service and invite the guest to return. A best-case scenario involves the person making the call to plan on meeting the visitor at a prearranged place the following Sunday and sit with them during the service. The caller should also comment on some particularly outstanding part of the church’s ministry that relates to the visitors
interest.

The goal of follow-up contact is to see newcomers return. In average churches, 10 percent to 20 percent of first-time visitors become active within a year In growing churches about 20 percent of first-time visitors become active. Also, the more often people visit, the more likely they’ll remain.

Visitor Retention Principle

Retention rate is the percentage of people who visit a church and are still regularly attending the same church one-year following that visit. (See “Retention Rate” on page 26.)

This information shouts loud and clear that the chance of a visitor becoming a regular attendee essentially doubles every time they return. A person who attends your service two times in several months is twice as likely to end up attending regularly as a person who visits only once. And a person who attends three times in a short span is even more likely to be active.

Unfortunately many churches make the mistake of trying to make “evangelistic calls” instead of “follow-up cars.” They mistakenly assume that once someone visits their service they now have permission to intrude into their lives with an uninvited call giving unsolicited answers to unasked questions. Such an approach has been shown to be counter-productive to effective disciple-making. The goal of your follow-up contact should be nothing more and nothing less than to see guests return the following week

Personnel Principle

Visitors’ return rate to your service will double when a lay person makes the follow-up contact. An equally statement, though somewhat more humbling for many clergy, says that when the pastor makes the call, the return rate drops by half

Why would more guests return when invited by a layperson than by a staff member? A pastor once answered this question in one of my seminars by musing, “Preachers are paid to be good; laypeople are good for nothing!” In a sense, he was right. When newcomers are contacted for follow-up by the pastor, they know the pastor’s being paid, and part of his or her job includes calling on visitors. In contrast, when
a guest receives a visit by a layperson, the experience is processed by the newcomer as considerably more “believable.”

How can you find such a large number of laypeople willing to serve as either hosts or follow-up callers? The secret lies in asking for help infrequently Most churches request that members serve lengthy terms as greeters or phone callers. A better approach is to ask every member to serve as a host or caller for a short time during the year Members can select the dates they would like to host or call, even trading with other members if a conflict arises. The process involves many members, and is a minimal duty to expect from anyone who’s part of the church.

Entry Path Principle

Two similar but different terms that have come out of the church-growth movement are entry event and entry path. Entry events are high-visibility activities sponsored by the church for the purpose of inviting and attracting newcomers. A good church outreach strategy includes a variety of entry events (community festivals, parenting seminars, Christmas cantatas, vacation Bible schools, divorce recovery seminars, and health fairs.)

But entry events do not, by themselves, grow churches. Entry events introduce the church to new people, but if that’s all the church offers for newcomers, they generally remain observers. You also need a way for people to be involved in ongoing activities where they can begin feeling comfortable in church sponsored activities and start building relationships others in the church. These are called entry paths. An entry path is a small group, a special class, or an ongoing activity in which people feel like participants, not just observers. Entry paths assimilate people into active church fellowship most easily. Entry events are the “doors” into your church; entry paths are the “rooms” where people meet.

“Most people who end up as active Christians and responsible church members have heard the gospel more than once from more than one source prior to making their decision for Christ,” says Win Arn. The more exposures your newcomers have to God’s message and God’s people, the more likely they’ll become comfortable and eventually assimilated. An entry path in your church will be based on the needs and interests of those who attend by providing appropriate opportunities for people to get involved in areas that are important to them.

An important result of newcomers’ participation in entry paths is the friendships that develop with others in the church. Research indicates that 75 percent to 90 percent of people join a church because of a friend or relative already in the church. The more friends unchurched people make in your church, the more comfortable they’ll be there.

Infrastructure Principle

The more small groups you provide, the more newcomers will get involved. Small groups are the best entry path you can create for newcomers to become active, responsible members. They supplement spiritual growth and build the relationships that are key to assimilation. But most churches need more small groups than they presently have to effectively assimilate newcomers. Do you have enough?

Small groups: 7-to-100. For every 100 active members, a church should have seven small groups.

Newcomer involvement 8 out of IQ Eighty percent of all new members should be involved in a small group within six months. They’re more willing to join a group than long-term members, and it’s important that they do to nurture new relationships in the church.

New Groups I out of 5. Twenty percent of the groups in your church should’ve been started within the last two years, because nine of every 10 groups lose their ability to incorporate new people after two years.

Being good stewards of the men, women, and children that God brings into your church’s sphere of influence demands the same caring and intentional priority that Jesus, himself, gave to those people who
came into his path. In the process, you’ll be an active participant in Christ’s command to “go and make disciples.”

Charles Arn is the president of Church Growth, Inc. in Monrovia, California, and the author of six books.

FIRST THINGS FIRST

Most visitors are afraid of someone showing up on their doorstep after they’ve filled out a registration card. Be open with visitors and put them at ease about the purpose of getting their names and addresses.

Most churches average between 15 percent and 35 percent of their first-time visitors voluntarily identifying themselves and giving out their names and addresses. So while any church will benefit from a good
visitor follow-up system, it’s hard to put one into place if you can’t get in touch with them.

Here’s a suggested monologue for the pastor to give in your service as you welcome newcomers.

Good morning. My name is pastor________. On behalf of the family here at_____, I’d like to welcome you this morning If you’re visiting today, we want you to know that you’re our guest and its our privilege
to have you here. And we want you to know that you’re welcome to come back.

If you’re here for the first time, we know that you probably have more questions than answers. To help answer some of your questions, we’ve prepared a special guest packet of information just for you. If you’ll identify yourself to the closest host or hostess, he or she will give you a packet. Inside you’ll find a brochure that tells you a little about our church and a letter from me telling you what we’re about and how glad we are that you’re with us.

You’ll also find a guess registration card and a pencil. Before ask you to fill that out, I want to assure you that no one will show up on your doorstep unannounced. What we’d like to do is put you on our
mailing list so you can get more information about our church. A church member will be calling in the next day or two to answer any questions and see if we can be of further assistance to you.

The # I fear unchurched people have in filling out a registration card is that they’re going to get an unannounced visit Practice the principle of disclosure with your guests, being forthright about what will be done with the information And then do what you say You’ll find that guests are far more willing to share their life with you than you might expect.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

When visiting a church, guests’ first impressions play a large part in whether or not they’ll visit again.

Few people join a church without first visiting. Yet my experience shows that churches don’t put much thought into the first impressions they give newcomers. Here are some suggestions on extending a more
cordial welcome to the people God brings to your church.

Don’t Call Them Visitors

Refer to newcomers as guests. Introduce this term into the church vocabulary as you describe those attending for the first, second, and third time. Seeing newcomers as guests rather than visitors becomes the
first step toward extending to them the honor and importance they deserve.

Who Greets Your Guests?

Most churches station greeters near the front door of the church or by the sanctuary entrance. A nice gesture, but not very contributory to seeing guests return. Try using a new term that implies an entirely
different role and relationship–hosts.

What Do Hosts Do?

During their first visit, guests are asking, “Is this a friendly church?” And the primary way they determine that is through the number of people who initiate a conversation with them.

First impressions begin the moment your guests drive into your parking lot, so I encourage churches to deploy parking hosts. On rainy days parking hosts should have umbrellas to distribute and should escort those who need help. They should be well acquainted with Sunday school classrooms, nurseries, restrooms, and general directions. A printed map of the church campus should be given to every newcomer.

Once your guests are inside the building, another group should be ready to extend the welcome mat–entry hosts. They take coats or umbrellas and may escort a child to a classroom or a mother to the nursery.

Service Hosts

Service hosts are stationed every fifth row at the end of each row. Their task involves greeting everyone who sits in their block of seats. They welcome guests, engage them in conversation, and introduce them to others sitting nearby Immediately following the service they’re the first ones to go to the visitors, thank them for coming, and encourage them to come back.

After the Service

Interviews we’ve conducted indicate there’s a 10-minute window immediately following the service when newcomers are most or least impressed with the church’s friendliness. If people in the church seem
friendly and caring at this time, research tells us that it makes a significant impression on newcomers, particularly if they’ve come alone.

Coffee and Refreshments

The hallowed moment in the Sunday morning schedule when people congregate after the service for coffee and refreshments can be one of the most effective moments in extending a welcome to newcomers. Consequently, I suggest you have another set of hosts following your service–coffee hosts. They stay in the coffee area, and are constantly looking for newcomers standing alone. They engage these people in conversation and introduce the guests to others.

An intentional plan for welcoming guests doesn’t mean your welcome appears artificial. It means you care enough about extending a welcome to newcomers that you have a plan to see it happen.

THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY VITAL MINISTRY, JANUARY/FEBRUARY, 1999, PAGES 25-27. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.

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Visitor Information Booklet

VISITORS INFORMATION BOOKLET BY PARKWAY APOSTOLIC CHURCH

GETTING TO KNOW US

Who We Are

We are a gathering of people committed to God and experiencing the reality of His presence in our lives. We believe you will find us to be a warm and friendly people willing to demonstrate our love by providing care and concern for your needs. We truly attempt to express the heart of God by bringing healing and wholeness to lives. Living out our Christianity by actively seeking to serve one another is our objective.

We believe in the absolute truth of the Bible and seek to live by its principles. It is our desire not to judge others for their beliefs, but to demonstrate the truth of God’s Word by becoming living examples. We openly express our faith and commitment to Christ and encourage all of those attending Parkway to be a light in the world today.

History

Parkway began as a small group of people who had a desire to begin a fellowship in the South-East area of our city. The first service took place in the basement of a home in South Milwaukee in May of 1972. In the same year, Parkway purchased a vacant church building at our present location. Since that time, the church has become one of the fastest growing and largest churches in the area.

In 1975, the church’s membership felt a need to provide an education for their children in a Christian setting. Parkway began a K-12 school with the purpose of instructing children in an atmosphere that would also be conducive to their spiritual development. Parkway Christian Academy has produced solid young Christians, many of which have gone on to higher education to receive college degrees.

Throughout the years, Parkway has purchased additional land and constructed buildings to facilitate the needs of the expanding membership. Currently the church complex consists of two sanctuaries, an office complex, a school, a gymnasium, and a cafeteria resting on more than 20 acres of land.

Along with numerical growth, Parkway has expanded its ministries to accomplish God’s purpose by supporting numerous foreign and home missionaries, producing Christian literature, sending out individuals and groups to minister at home and overseas, starting several new churches, opening an emergency food pantry, and a number of other church related endeavors.

We are trusting that God will continue to bless Parkway with growth to accomplish His purpose with people like yourself.

PASTORAL CARE

We at Parkway want to make sure that every person attending our church is cared for. We seek to meet this challenge by dividing the counties we live in into segments so that each area has a member of our pastoral staff (Zone Minister) to oversee it.

We encourage individuals to find ongoing care in our home group environment. We believe that most of our basic needs will be met by God through one another ministering in a small group context. Home
Friendship Groups are most effective at providing care by fellow believers.

Our Pastors’ primary role is to provide support to small group leaders and help them maintain quality interaction and communication in their groups. Our pastors strive to train people for ministry and help
them reach a level of Christ-like spiritual maturity. The pastors are also available to provide care in times of crisis and for special events. They are available for funerals and weddings, and will also do a limited amount of personal counseling.

For more information about Home Friendship Groups, read the section titled SMALL GROUPS.

Our Pastoral Staff

Frank & Angeline Tamel, Senior Pastors
Anthony & Diane Tamel, Pastors
Robert & Eileen Falkey, District Pastors
Tom & Sue Holzer, District Supervisors
Robert Kurz, Minister of Education
Orrin Maki, Resident Minister
Peter and Lorene Fobia, Ministers of Music

SMALL GROUPS

Coming together as a congregation is only part of what the early church did according to the Scriptures. The people went to the temple and from house to house. The reason is evident when we consider that
there is no time to share either your greatest joy or your deepest sorrow during a corporate worship service held in the church building. When Christians meet in homes, their faith comes alive as they participate in the lives of others.

Home Friendship Groups

Home Friendship Groups consist of 5-15 people who gather together for fellowship and mutual encouragement. These groups combine fun and friendship with a relevant discussion of God’s Word in a comfortable setting of a living or family room of a home Home Friendship Groups, for adults and teens 13 years of age and older, take place in communities throughout the area every week on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays in the mornings or evenings.

What Are They ?

They discuss the Scriptures as they relate to life, yet they arc not a Bible study.

Prayer is made for the needs of those who attend, yet they arc not a prayer meeting.

Encouragement is given, yet they are not a support group.

Everyone has a good time, yet they arc not a social event.

True friendships are developed, yet they are not a friendship club. God is present, yet they are not a church service in a home.

Who Can Join?

Anyone can become a member of a Home Friendship Group. If you wish to attend one of our groups and meet friends who share a desire to know God in a more meaningful way, you can. Information can be found in the foyer at our Home Friendship Group display, or you can call our office at 571-2680.

WORSHIP

Why We Worship

At Parkway, we have found worship of God, according to the Scriptures, to be a most beautiful and fulfilling experience. To worship means to ascribe worth or value to another, and God is ultimately worthy of all our adoration and service. He deserves our worship.

Jesus said that our Heavenly Father is seeking people to worship Him in spirit and truth. As we worship God, our primary emphasis is on rendering our hearts to Him in sincerity and honesty.

We also know God is pleased with our worship of Him and Scriptures reveal that He makes our praise a habitation for His presence. When we worship Him, as she Scriptures demonstrate, God can truly be felt.

The Bible Model For Worship

In the Bible, the words praise, worship, and rejoicing are action verbs with reference to physical movements. God rejoices when His people express their love and devotion to Him in singing, dancing, and
raising of hands.

The Bible describes a full range of expression ill the believer’s acts of worship, from responding joyfully to God with festive shouts to silently waiting upon the Lord. We may worship in many ways: dancing or
kneeling, clapping or with hands lifted up to Him, standing still before Him or even joyously moving about.

Musical Instruments For Worship

The Bible tells us to praise the Lord with instruments. Many instruments have been used throughout time to worship God and will even be found in heaven for the purpose of giving Him glory.

You Are Welcome to Join Us

Please do not feel it is necessary that you be a member of Parkway to worship with us. As our guest, we invite you to praise the Lord with us, for He is worthy of all of our praise.

CHILDREN’S CHURCH SCHOOL

We take the training of children very seriously. The purpose of Children’s Church School is to give Bible instruction to every child who can be taught. Even our nursery provides a nurturing environment. Our ministry staff consists of teachers and voluntary parental care to provide a safe and enjoyable atmosphere for children to worship the Lord and be taught God’s Word.

The following classes are available during Sunday morning services:

Children Infant Nursery (newborn to 12 months) Toddler Nursery (12 to 24 months) Pre-School (2-3 years & 4-5 years) Middle School (6-7 years, 8-9 years, 10-11 years,)

Teen Ministry

Groups 12-13 years and 14-17 years are involved in activities geared to teenager’s special needs during both of our Sunday morning service times.

In addition to Sunday morning classes, Infant and Toddler Nurseries meet on Sunday Evenings during the adult service.

PARKWAY CHRISTIAN ACADEMY

Parkway Christian Academy is a 4K through 12th grade school. We teach a full curriculum of subjects to prepare students to further their education at the college level. Along with these basics, students will participate in daily devotions which instill biblical principles that develop morally sound values in their life.

In addition to the education that takes place in the classroom, Parkway Christian Academy is a member of the SWISS (Southern Wisconsin Small Schools) conference and participates in Boys’ Soccer and Basketball as well as Girls’ Volleyball and Basketball. Competition takes place at the middle school and high school level in most sports.

Our tuition is competitive with other private or Christian Schools in the area and the cost of educating a child at the Academy is further reduced with a tuition credit if parents are supporting members of the church. (See Church Membership)

SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT

We believe all Christians grow in grace and knowledge of God’s plan and purpose for their lives. This is a spiritual process of development. We have several programs designed to help Christians reach their potential
Home Bible Studies

The Bible is God’s Word and the basis of our faith as Christians. To lay a solid foundation Parkway provides Bible Studies that can take you through the entire Bible in just 12 weeks. This course is not only
designed to give you a general knowledge of the scriptures, but it will teach you how to use the scriptures in your everyday life.

It is not necessary to be a member of Parkway to join a class or have a private class taught in the privacy of your own home. Call the Church office if you are interested in a Home Bible Study at 571-2680.

New life Discipleship Course

After completing a Home Bible Study, Parkway provides a discipleship course that is designed to teach you what it means to be a true follower of Jesus Christ. These classes describe the principles of serving God and give insight into disciplines that make living for God easier. The 20 lessons can be completed by attending classes for 12 weeks at the church on Sunday mornings or a home with the help of a mentor.

Ministry Discovery Course

The mature Christian desires to use the gifts God has given to him for His glory. Periodically the Ministry Discovery Course is taught to help students to find their gifts, and determine where they are best suited to serve in the ministries of the Church. The four classes, followed by a personal consultation, take place in the church on Sunday mornings. Announcements will be made a few weeks in advance of the next Ministry Discovery Course. We encourage anyone who has been through our Home Bible Study and Discipleship Course to attend.

MARRIAGE MINISTRY

We believe that God instituted marriage. Parkway provides couples with tools to help them grow stronger in their relationship with each other. God’s Word is a foundation to help us see marriage from God’s
view and to build the relationship according to His plan.

Before You Say I Do

Couples anticipating marriage can take this special six-week class dealing with the ingredients that make marriage work. After several couples sign up, announcements are made as to the date that the class will begin.

After You Say I Do

Prom time to time we offer this special class to couples that desire to enhance their marriage. Principles are given to move the couple toward a richer and more meaningful relationship with one another.
Gary Smalley Tape Series

At least once a year, Parkway shows the complete series of Gary Smalley’s tapes at the church. This series has benefited scores of couples desiring to bring wholeness and health to their marriage.

Marriage Counseling

We are committed to helping couples who have special or unique problems with their marriage. Counseling is offered on a limited basis by members of our pastoral staff Please contact the Church office for information at 571-2680.

Missions

At Parkway, we believe in the “Great Commission” to spread the gospel throughout all the world. While it is for everyone everyone go to the mission field, we support local and foreign mission endeavors both financially and with human resources.

MINISTRIES OF PARKWAY

Seminars and Special Events

Parkway has reached out to the public with the hope of bringing people into a deeper relationship with God through the use of seminars. In addition to this, Parkway conducts an Easter passion play and a Friend Day when we invite our friends to a service followed by a free brunch. We also have a special Christmas program, along with other special services throughout the year.

Manna Ministries

Manna Ministries is the name given to our bookstore, and audio and video tape ministries. You may purchase books and tapes in our bookstore which is located in the foyer of our main auditorium. The
bookstore is open after each of our Sunday services.

Youth On A Mission

Youth On A Mission is a choir of young people aging from 13 to 25 years. Youth On A Mission has performed at community events such as singing the National Anthem for the Milwaukee Brewers on opening day, as well as singing at festivals and churches throughout the area. Wherever they go, they have touched hearts for the cause of Christ.

The Ministry of Prayer

Prayer has always been an essential pare of Parkway’s ministries. Our prayer life reflects our commitment and desire to see the will of God and His Kingdom established on earth. Moreover, prayer produces in
us a greater spiritual perception and sensitivity to God’s heart.

Organized prayer meetings, sponsored by Home Friendship Groups in specific geographic areas, take place throughout the year at the church on Friday evenings. Anyone may attend these meetings. We also have
half-night prayer meetings periodically for the entire church. At any of our prayer meetings and church services, prayer for specific needs may take place including prayer for the sick and intercession. If you
desire pray for a specific need, please call our church office at 571-2680.

Parkway Church also has an intercessory prayer group called Mothers On a Mission (MOMS) that meet on Thursday mornings to pray for our children and families.

Special Group Events

Periodically there are special events sponsored at Parkway for the purpose of instruction or simply having fun. The activity may involve members over 50 years of age going out to eat, a women’s breakfast with a special speaker or singles coming together for an evening of fun. These events are always a source of growth toward God and one another.

Service Ministries

Parkway has over 50 miniseries for members who are at various levels of spiritual maturity. These fulfilling miniseries cover a full range of services from Beaching children to serving in our Bookstore. If you wish to serve in a ministry of the Church, please contact the office at 571-2680 or fill out a ministry application found outside the church office.

Communion Service

The ordinance of communion is a ministry of the heart for every believer. It is a time of commemoration of the Lord’s passion and a time of self-examination. Parkway conducts a communion service every three months during our Sunday Evening Service. Communion can be received by all baptized believers.

Baptismal Ministry

Anyone who desires to be baptized may do so after our Sunday evening service, providing they have been counseled about baptism and have viewed the short video presentation explaining baptism from the
scriptures before being baptized.

Children’s Dedication

As an infant, Jesus’ parents had him dedicated to the God of Israel according to the Mosaic Law. While we do not observe the Jewish Ceremonial Law, we do allow parents to dedicate their children to the Lord. Children’s Dedication requires that parents make a commitment before God and the congregation to train up their children in the ways of God. We do not believe this ceremony is necessary for the salvation of our children, but places a responsibility on parents to teach their children to have a relationship with God from a young age.

Emergency Food Pantry

Jesus said there is no need to be overly concerned about where our next meal will come from because our Heavenly Father will take care of those who put His Kingdom first. Our food pantry is there to provide
essentials in the event there is a temporary need for food.

CHURCH MEMBERSHIP

Parkway is a growing church made up of people from various ethnic, social, and religious backgrounds. Clearly, when a person is “born again,” they are born into the Kingdom of God and become members
of the body of believers called the Church. It is also clear that belonging to a local fellowship is important if we are to support one another through encouragement and help.

The commitment to a church is a very personal and completely voluntary decision. Commitment at any deep level can only be the work of the Holy Spirit. We do not maintain a formal membership roster, yet
we recognize members as individuals who are at various commitment levels.

Functional Membership

At Parkway, people are considered members when they are involved in the life of the church. This concept is called functional membership. We have sought to create a church structure that will allow everyone, regardless of their specific gifting or maturity, to find a satisfying place of involvement in the life and ministry of the church.

Membership is also expressed in part by regular financial support of the church. Since the practice of tithing predates the Mosaic Law, we believe in the principle of tithing as a basis for our individual
participation. Likewise, the New Testament also calls for our financial giving to be willing, regular, and joyful.

Voting Membership

At Parkway’s annual business meeting, the church elects trustees who have fiscal responsibility for the operation of the church. Also, decisions pertaining to the capital assets of the church may require a
vote. Voting members are “born again” supporting members who have been at Parkway for at least six months.

Information Network

If you wish to be on our mailing list and be a part of our information network, please complete the Information Card included with this book, and place it in the offering bag at your next opportunity.

If you would like to talk with one of our pastors about anything regarding the church, mark the appropriate box on the Information Card and place it in the offering bag.

If you wish to contact the office for any reason, call 571-2680. Our office is open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

FINANCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY

We want to avoid any criticism of the my we administer this liberal gift, for we arc taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men. (II Corinthians 8:20-21)

We are committed to fiscal integrity through reputable accounting practices and to legal compliance. Our financial records are audited by an outside accounting firm annually and our books are open for members’
inspection. An oral financial report is displayed and read during our annual business meeting held in January of each year.

STATEMENT OF FAITH

I. WE BELIEVE that the HOLY SCRIPTURE of the Old and New Testaments are the inspired Word of God. The scriptures are inerrant, infallible and the final authority for faith and life. The 66 books of the HOLY BIBLE arc the complete and divine revelation of God to humanity.

II. WE BELIEVE in ONE TRUE GOD, the eternal Spirit who created all things for His pleasure. He is absolute in power, infinite in wisdom, Holy in nature, attributes and purpose, possessing total deity. He
concerns Himself mercifully in the affairs of humanity; that He hears and answers prayer, and that He saves from sin and death all who believe according to His Word.

God has revealed Himself as FATHER (in giving life in creation), as SON (in reconciliation of humanity), and as HOLY SPIRIT (in regeneration of lives).

III. WE BELIEVE in JESUS CHRIST, who is both God and man. He is God incarnate; the image of the invisible God; God manifested in the flesh thee is God’s only begotten son. We believe thee as a son he was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, and performed miracles, and taught with authority. He died for the sins of all humanity, had a bodily resurrection, ascended into heaven, and will return again.

IV. WE BELIEVE that all PEOPLE are sinners by nature and have become alienated from God. They are totally sinful and unable to remedy their lost condition. Humanity is reconciled to God only by God’s grace
received through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

V. WE BELIEVE that SALVATION is a gift of God given to humanity by grace and received by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith is more than mental assent, intellectual acceptance or verbal profession. It
includes trust, reliance, and commitment. We cannot separate saving faith from obedience. A person is saved by the gospel that is applied to his life. This takes place when they repent from their sin, are
baptized in the Name of Jesus for the remission of their sins, and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

VI. WE BELIEVE the CHURCH is the living, spiritual body of believers of which the Lord Jesus Christ is the head. The church functions as Christ would function in the earth, seeking to find lost souls for the purpose of bringing them to salvation; and that signs and wonders, including divine healing, follow them.

VI. WE BELIEVE there is ETERNAL LIFE in a place God has prepared for those who accept God’s grace and receive His gift of salvation and there is eternal destruction of those who reject His grace and refuse
His gift.

THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY THE PARKWAY APOSTOLIC CHURCH, 10940 S. NICHOLSON RD, OAK CREEK, WI 53154, PH. (414) 571-2680 FAX (414) 571-2690. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.

Posted in AIS File Library, VF - Visitor Followup Ministry0 Comments

Special Purpose Visitation

SPECIAL PURPOSE VISITATION

PROGRAM INVITATION CALLING

Consider the following possibilities:

* annual vacation Bible school
* summertime backyard Bible Clubs
* a film series such as the Dobson series on the family
* musical programs such as a Christian band to attract youth, an organ concert, organ and choir concert, a concert featuring a well-known soloist, and so on
* an accredited speaker or workshop leader on a topic that meets a known community need such as marriage and family concerns, budgeting and other financial concerns, aging, nutrition, and so on
* a three-, six-, or twelve-week seminar such as the Family Life Series published by Church Development Resources.
* three or four days of crusade-type meetings culminating on a Sunday

In addition, a church may have ongoing activities that are geared to the community or to both the community and the church:

* Sunday school
* boys’ and girls’ clubs
* small-group Bible study such as Coffee Break and Men’s Life
* week-day program for preschool children such as Story Hour
* support groups for single parents, divorced people, the widowed, parents experiencing tough problems with teenagers, Alcoholics Anonymous or Al Anon, and so on
* Parents’ Night Out-offering babysitting one night a week to enable parents to go shopping, see a movie, and so on
* Family Night-a light supper, followed by activities and classes appropriate to various age groups

Churches that begin such activities may find that initially the church has enough contacts to bring out people without a great deal of advertising or visitation. Sooner or later, however, attendance at such activities tends to decrease. At that point the church must ask, “Do we continue this program?” Programs come and go, and no church should continue an activity just because it is always been there or because it was successful at one time. If the program still meets a need in the community, it is time to ask how best to promote the program.  Here are some promotion ideas:

* Advertise in the newspaper
* Advertise in the weekly shopper
* Place an advertising insert in the weekly shopper
* Prepare a mailing to the church’s mailing list
* Prepare a mailing and have a mailing service send it to  a certain area, zip code or postal code
* Put up notices on supermarket and shopping center bulletin  boards’
* Use radio and/or television advertising
* Take advantage of free community events listings in the  local newspaper or on radio and television
* Prepare a news story for the local paper and bring it in  yourself. It helps if the church has established a good  relationship with the newspaper and brings in human interest  stories regularly
* Prepare an attractive flyer and make personal visits  in the church’s parish area
* Distribute flyers on cars at a nearby shopping center
* Organize a parade with a band and placards. This is  especially effective for vacation Bible school in a neighborhood  with many children
* Encourage members to bring friends or give names of  potential contacts to the appropriate people

Sometimes a visit to promote a certain program will entail registering interested people in the program. Visitors should have a clipboard with registration forms, for example, when the program is the annual vacation Bible school. Even if the parent is not sure that his or her children will be able or willing to attend, try to make a provisional registration and promise to remind them via letter or telephone a few days before the event.  Following are suggested ways to introduce yourself after the door opens:

“Good afternoon, I am Diane Stevens from Fellowship  Church. We’re letting the neighborhood know that our vacation  Bible school starts on Monday, July 12. We’ll be having classes  for all children from ages 4 through 12. Would that be of  interest to you?”

“Hi, I am Harold Faber from Fellowship Church. We’re  having a film series on family life on Sunday evenings and would  like to invite you to attend.”

“Hello, I am Sue and this is Carol. We’re from  Fellowship Church and want to let you know our Wednesday morning  program for women is starting again in a couple of weeks. The  complete information is in this pamphlet. We’d be glad to have  you.”

When a person expresses interest, explain the program as completely as you can and point to explanations in the pamphlet. If the person intends to participate, stress that a friend or relative can come along. If the event is more than two weeks away, offer to call or write with a reminder (you’ll need to obtain the name and telephone number). If transportation seems to be a problem, offer to provide it. Whenever possible, leave a pamphlet. (Whatever the program is, the pamphlet should stress that the church is willing at any time to talk with people.) Listen carefully to people’s responses to discover whether you or the church can be of help in some way that is quite different from the particular program.  This kind of calling is not difficult to do and sometimes whets people’s appetites for a more intensive calling program.

PROGRAM FOLLOW-UP CALLING

Programs that attract the unchurched and the unbelieving must also build relationships. People will be attracted to a program or activity because it fills a need in their lives, but they will keep coming after the need has been filled if they have established satisfying relationships that meet deeper, sometimes unacknowledged needs.

Building relationships should be part of each program. People should be registered at the beginning of the activity and wear name tags so they can address each other by name. If the activity is a film series, for example, those who stand by the door to register people should wear a name tag, along with everyone else in the room, members and guests alike.  During refreshments, members should seek out guests and
become acquainted with them. Again, if the activity is a film series, include a short discussion period afterward in which the people disperse into small groups led by a trained member of the church. The leader should seek to draw everyone into the discussion without forcing or embarrassing them. Welcome opinions; don’t make anyone’s contributions sound stupid or outrageous.

This kind of relationship-building may lead a guest not only to return for the remainder of the series but also to attend worship. People are more likely to come to church if during the film series they have become acquainted with a church member who extends an invitation to worship.

A follow-up visit is in order for all those who attend a special program. People should be trained for this visit, even if the training is simple. It is best if the caller is someone who was at the activity and who met the guest. Then the follow-up visit can be seen as a continuation of the relationship started earlier.

The first visit should concentrate on getting to know the person and discovering ways the church may care for that person.

The second visit should reach deeper, exploring the person’s spiritual background. Where possible, begin to explain the Christian faith by talking about the church’s beliefs or by giving personal testimony.

The third visit may include a specific invitation to become a child of the heavenly Father by faith in Jesus Christ.

The fourth visit can explore the meaning of a faith commitment and the call to Christian service.
It is possible to cover all these items in a first visit if there is unusual openness and receptivity. Callers should keep in mind that their aim is to build friendship-first with the caller, then with Christ. A series of shorter visits is usually more effective than one or two long visits. Experienced visitors learn to read the signs that make the longer visits possible.

A helpful guide on visitation of this kind is found in
Kennon L. Callahan’s Twelve Keys to an Effective Church (Harper
& Row, 1983), pages 11-23.

NEW RESIDENT VISITATION

People become receptive to the gospel and the church when they  experience life’s transitions-those events that upset normal living patterns and cause people to feel a sense of loss or to ponder the meaning of life. Such transitions come with the loss of a spouse by death or divorce, loss of one’s job, the birth of a child, the last child leaving the home, and so on.  One such transition is the move to a different neighborhood or a different city. Such moves often come with other transitional events such as the birth of a child, a job
promotion, divorce, or retirement. Whether the move is traumatic or relatively routine, people experience a loss of roots and of the familiar routines of life. Frequently, moving means finding a new circle of friends. All of this means that such people may be very open to a friendly visit from the church that offers caring, understanding, and the potential for new relationships.  How many people move each year? Currently, people move on the average every five years. This is an average! In some neighborhoods the rate of transition is much higher, in others lower. But the number of people who move each year is so large that entire industries have sprung up around this phenomenon. It is big business and presents a significant opportunity to the church.  Some denominations do not have an effective method of transferring members from one congregation to another. This means the church in the new location may never hear about the
person who moved and therefore cannot make an effort to welcome this person as a transfer member. In addition, nearly all churches have felt the loss in denominational loyalty. Members who move to a different community no longer automatically search out their denomination but instead look for a church that meets
their needs. A vital and healthy congregation is likely to attract transfer members from a variety of denominational backgrounds.

Research also shows that many church members who move become church dropouts. They may have every intention of finding a church, but in the busyness of moving and getting settled they never get around to it. Sometimes they visit one or two churches, find they are not warmly received, and decide to stay away or become part of the electronic church. People who move after their last child has finished high school are particularly prone to drop out of church in this way.  All denominations experience problems of this kind; the larger the denomination, the greater the problem. The largest Protestant denomination in the U.S. is the Southern Baptist Church. This denomination reports that 29 percent of its membership (over 4 million members) are non-resident members who have moved and apparently never joined elsewhere. In a religious census such people will probably identify themselves as Southern Baptist even though they no longer attend or attend only very sporadically.

All of this indicates that visiting new residents is a potentially fruitful work that not only adds to the kingdom harvest but preserves the harvest as well. Churches beginning a new visitation program do well to start here.

How to Find New Residents

You may have to explore a variety of ways to discover who the new residents in your community are.
In some towns and cities anyone can ask the local utility company for a list of recent utility hook-ups. A monthly visit to the utility company keeps a new resident visitation program amply supplied with new contacts.  In other places this may not be possible. You may have to purchase a list of names from a company that specializes in this. Two such companies in the U.S. are:

Dataman Information Services Group Reaching the Newcomer
1140 Hammond Dr., Suite B. 2140 B.F. Productions, P.O.. Box 640
Atlanta, GA 30328 Grapevine, TX 76051
(404) 395-0694 (817) 488-8535

A member of the church who runs a business may be able to provide a list of new residents for the church. A local realtor may be willing to share such a list of names. A business such as Welcome Wagon may be willing to add the church’s literature to its welcome packet, though it appears in most places that this is not possible.  Whatever your situation, digging for a source of these names is well worth the effort!

How to Contact New Residents

There are three ways to contact new residents: by mail, by phone, and in person. Some churches use all three methods. Timing is a very important factor, however, since the church looks inept when it contacts a person six or more months after the move. Because it usually takes a little while before the names of new residents appear on various lists, contact should be made soon as possible.  It is a good idea to start with a letter that welcomes the people to the community and invites them to become acquainted with the congregation. The letter should not dwell heavily on doctrinal beliefs but on the relational benefits of
belonging to a church. You might also enclose a pamphlet describing the church.

Next, try to telephone new residents. Remind them of the letter that was sent and ask if they have any questions about the church or its activities. The purpose of the telephone call is primarily to determine whether a visit is indicated. Be sure to ask if a visit would be welcome; you can make a specific appointment or keep the time purposely vague. Suggest, for example, “We usually visit on Wednesday evenings-would that be convenient for you in the next couple of weeks?”

With a large list of new residents every week or every month (some communities have hundreds of new residents every month), the above method may be the most efficient.  In some cases the church intends to visit every new resident but precedes the visit with a letter which says, “In the next few weeks we expect to stop by and get acquainted personally. We hope you’ll give us the privilege of a few minutes of conversation.” Or, “Fellowship Church would like to present you with a little gift to welcome you to our community. We hope to stop by soon and get acquainted.”

Be sure you deliver what you’ve promised. If the letter indicates a visit of “a few minutes,” be prepared to stay no longer than ten minutes; use that opportunity to demonstrate care and concern and to inquire about church background. If the letter indicates a gift, give it-even if the new resident is not interested in the church at this time. One church gives a little praying hands statue for this purpose and puts the name of the church with address and telephone number on a sticker. Other churches give a city map with the location, address, and telephone number of the church prominently indicated. The most personal visit is from a member in the immediate neighborhood who comes along with a trained caller. The best gift in such a case is a food item.

The First Visit

The first visit is, in many ways, the most important visit, since first impressions can be given only once. The
callers should identify themselves and their church and remind the householder of the letter he or she received. They can ask, “Would this be a good time for us to come in?” or “Could you spare ten minutes of your time to talk with us?” Once the person indicates that this is a good time, focus the conversation on
their concerns: “Welcome to Oakview Heights-I want to assure you we don’t have weather like this all the time. How is the move coming?” Or, `Are you getting settled all right? It’s hard to find everything in a new neighborhood, isn’t it?” Then listen and respond with caring concern.  Somewhat later in the conversation ask, “Did you attend a church before you moved here?” If the person was an active member of another denomination, it is certainly appropriate to suggest where a church of that denomination can be found. Be
familiar with the church scene in your own community. At the same time, it is not inappropriate to invite such a person to your own church. Be sure to at least leave written information about your congregation.

The Second Visit

The nature of the second visit depends on what the callers have learned during the first visit. An accurate record of that first visit is important, especially if the caller promised to respond to a particular need or question. Sometimes it’s more effective if the second visit is made by someone who has several things in common with the new resident. At this time, the caller can highlight some of the church’s activities
and give a specific invitation to attend one of these activities, accompanied by someone from the congregation. The visitor can offer, “Would it be convenient for me to pick you up?” or “I’ll wait for you by the entrance right off the parking lot. We can sit together.”

The Third Visit

Again, follow up on anything that may have been said or promised during the second visit. This time the visit may include conversation regarding your own or the new resident’s spiritual journey. Visitors trained in Evangelism Explosion, Congregational Evangelism Training, or Night of Caring may want to use one of these methods, provided the relationship has progressed sufficiently to permit a conversation based on
friendship, not on sales technique.

Record Keeping

New residents may decide to visit a Sunday worship service without telling the people who have been doing the calling. Callers should keep an eye out for familiar faces in the worship services. If the church does a good job of identifying worship visitors, the “prospect card” (a better name would be “friendship record”) will note that this person has already received a visit from church members. A new team of callers would be embarrassed to call on this person without knowing he or she had previously been visited.

Using the Mail Effectively

If you send a letter to each new resident, avoid sending form letters. Type out each letter individually if at all possible and have the pastor sign it personally. The letter is more likely to be read and taken seriously if handwritten by a member who signs it and who also writes out the envelope and places a commemorative stamp on the envelope.

MAILING FOLLOW-UP CALLING

One effective way to reach a large segment of your community is to send out a church mailing. A regular mailing, done at least quarterly, communicates a caring attitude, maintains contact and a positive image, gives visibility to the church, and reaches people in crisis.  You can choose several kinds of mailing-from a single sheet prepared by the church to an elaborate eight-page tabloid prepared by an outside agency. For a full description of mailing pieces, how to send them, and to whom, see “Reaching Your Community by Mail” published by Church Development Resources.  A mailing program cannot stand on its own as an
evangelistic effort. It is intended as part of a more elaborate strategy to reach as many people as possible in as many ways as possible. Mailings should usually include some kind of follow-up. One way to follow up is to insert a response card in the mailing, preferably with the church’s name pre-printed and the return postage paid. The card might include responses such as

I would like to know more about Fellowship Church.
I would like a visit from the church.
I would like to have a Bible.
I would like to enroll in a free Bible correspondence course.
I need transportation to come to church.

Response cards could be included in each mailing or at less frequent intervals.
Another way to follow up is to call on homes that receive the mailing. Though a church can hardly follow up a mailing of 25,000 pieces with personal visits, it can follow-up a small mailing of 500 to 1,000 in this way, even if it takes two years of systematic calling on one Sunday afternoon a month. Church members should carry a sample of the mailing as a conversation starter: “Hello, I am Evelyn and this is Al. We’re from Fellowship Church and send you this paper every other month. Do you remember receiving it?” Or “Do you read our mailing?” “Is there anything you’d like to know about the church?” “Is there anything we could do for you or your family?” The callers should also carry pamphlets with information about the church; if possible, they should offer a free Bible as well.  The purpose of such visits is not first of all to present the gospel but to determine people’s receptivity. If the opportunity arises to present the gospel, that is wonderful. But if church members discover that the persons they are talking to are open to further conversation, they might arrange a return visit for some serious conversation or offer to pick them up for
church the next Sunday or for a weekday Bible study or other activity. In some cases they should feel free to ask, “Would you appreciate a visit from our pastor?”  Lane Avenue Church in Kansas City, Missouri, sends an eight-page tabloid to nearly 3,000 of its neighbors. Recently four teenagers volunteered their time to assist in the church’s summer program. The pastor trained them to recruit, teach, and follow up on the vacation Bible school. As part of their follow-up, the young people conducted a survey on readers of the
tabloid, which is called “Lane Avenue Perspective.” The survey sheet asked the following questions:

1. Do you read “Lane Avenue Perspective”? If so, what do you like about it?

2. In your opinion, are people basically good or evil?

3. In your opinion, who is Jesus Christ?
(a) Teacher and philosopher (d) Myth
(b) Prophet (e) Philosophical ideal
(c) Son of God (f) Other

4. How do you feel about your personal goals and the direction of your life right now?
(a) Very satisfied (d) Somewhat unsatisfied
(b) Satisfied (e) Very unsatisfied
(c) Undecided

5. Have you come to the place in your spiritual life where you know for sure you have eternal life?

(a) Yes
(b) No
(c) I have doubts.
(d) No one can know for sure.

6. What do you think is the central message of the Bible?

7. Are you an active member of a local church?

8. Whether or not you go to church, at what time would you prefer the Sunday morning worship service to take place!
(a) 9:30
(b) 10:00
(c) 10:30
(d) 11:00

9. What can our church be doing to meet needs in the community?

The pastor reported that about half of the people called on were willing to answer the questions. Of those, 45 percent read “Lane Avenue Perspective.” The team found that the survey led to many interesting conversations, some of which will lead to further visits.

One immediate result of the survey was valuable input for sermon topics and the discovery that there were many single parents in the community. As a result, the next edition of the tabloid will offer a free book on single parenting.

INACTIVE MEMBER VISITATION

Every denomination and nearly every congregation has members who are no loner active in the congregation. Though at one time these members came regularly to Sunday worship and participated in other church activities, they have now dropped out of the church.  In a single congregation the number of such people may be few, but the total number of such members of all denominations in Canada and the U.S. is very large. For example, there are about 15 million inactive Roman Catholics in the U.S. The largest Protestant denomination in the U.S. reports nearly three million inactive resident members-people who have not moved away but who have not been active in the church for twelve successive months. Total figures for inactive members vary; it is safe to estimate, however, that there are at least one hundred million inactive church members in the U.S. and Canada. Such people are often called church dropouts. Add to this number the nominal or marginal church members (people who attend church very sporadically), and it becomes evident that inactive members make up a large group of people who need to be ministered to and, in many cases, evangelized.

Who Are the Dropouts?

Some denominations emphasize teaching the children so that they can be confirmed and become fully participating members. The United Church of Canada frequently confirms children when they enter their teenage years. But the United Church recognizes that all too often this is the point at which the children also drop out of church. The Christian Reformed Church in North America is known for its emphasis on youth activities and catechetical instruction for its young people. A large percentage of these become and remain active members of the church. But the denomination has a hard time holding onto young people who have not become professing members by high school graduation. These young adults drop out of the church’s educational program and, frequently, out of the church altogether.

It is the hope and prayer of parents and churches that such young people will begin to remember their upbringing by the time they marry or have their first child. And indeed some return to church at that time. But others do not.  Many others besides young people become alienated from the church.

In general, dropouts are excluded from Christian service by their response to life disruptions, religious burnout, and church fights. Persons who are prime candidates to drop out of local churches include

* Persons who don’t like their new pastor
* New high school graduates
* Persons who didn’t like the way the last pastor left
* Single youth
* Persons who have recently moved
* Empty-nest couples
* Persons who were wounded in congregational conflicts
* Religious burnout’s
* Persons whose life patterns have been seriously disrupted
* Viewers of the electronic church.

(Robert D. Dale and Delos Miles, Evangelizing the Hard-to- Reach, Broadman Press.)

Some research indicates that nearly half of American church members become inactive at some time during their lifetime. The same research also shows that 80 percent of these dropouts become active members again some time later-even if it is not in the same congregation or denomination where formerly
they were members (see David A. Roozen, “Church Dropouts: Changing Patterns of Disengagement and Re-entry,” Review of Religious Research, 21, Supplement 1980, pp. 427-450).  Even though the rate of disengagement from church is high, the rate of return is an encouragement for the church to remain in pastoral and evangelistic ministry with these people and work consistently to effect their return.

How Members Drop Out

Studies have shown that members who drop out of church frequently rationalize their decision and feel the church is at least as much at fault as they are, since the church has given them permission to drop out. Their stories often follow a common pattern. Here are two hypothetical examples.  Craig and Amanda Donker’s third and last child, Julie, graduated from high school in June and took a summer job to earn
some college money. She moved in with some friends. Craig and Amanda celebrated this new stage in their life by taking most of the summer off for travel and vacation. During the entire summer it never seemed convenient to attend church. When September came around they drove Julie to college and resumed their normal working lives. Somehow the initiative to get up for church on Sunday morning was gone, and for several weeks they didn’t even discuss it. When finally they did talk about it, Amanda said, “This may sound strange, but I haven’t even missed church. We’ve been so busy and it seems nice to have the Sunday just for ourselves.” Craig replied that he thought the pastor or someone else from the church should have called on them by now. “After all the work we’ve done for the church over the past years, you’d think they would miss us. But nobody has even made a phone  all.” Before long, resentment over the church’s negligence set in, and three months later the Donkers were firmly settled in their churchless life-style.

Paul and Cynthia Greene both grew up in Christian families and had been active participants in the church for many years. They had two children who were involved in youth clubs and religious education at their church. Paul and Cynthia were good friends of the pastor and his wife. The church, unfortunately, was divided on the direction the church was taking, and the pastor was at the center of the controversy. Before long the issue was no longer the church’s direction but the pastor’s leadership or lack of leadership. As a result, the pastor left. Paul and Cynthia were upset and discouraged and decided they needed some  breathing room. Instead of attending church, they watched their favorite television preacher. At first they send the children to Sunday school, but before long the children too became “members” of the electronic church. The whole family enjoyed the ritual of a leisurely Sunday morning together, part of it in the den in front of the television. The elders of the church noted the family’s absence but agreed that, indeed, some breathing room was probably the best thing. Besides, they were busy unifying the church and calling a new pastor. Before anyone realized it, the Greenes had not been in church for over a year and no one had talked to them about it. Paul and Cynthia decided it was probably best for everyone’s peace of mind not to return to church at all. They blamed the church for ruining the pastoral career of a friend and found they could do without the hassles of active membership.

Preventing Dropouts

The best solution to the dropout problem is prevention.
Such prevention may be practiced in three areas.
1. A majority of North American Christians feel a Christian need not be a member of any particular church. Christianity has become a private religion: “I can be a good Christian and not go to church. As long as I believe and try to be as good as the next person, I don’t need organized religion.” Such people do not necessarily quarrel with the church; they are, in fact, often members of a congregation. They agree that the church is useful and may be necessary for some people. It just is not necessary for them.

The Bible, however, knows nothing of such a solitary position. Central to the Christian faith is one’s relationship with both Jesus Christ and his body. Christ and the church are inseparable. The church is part of God’s design for the new creation. Believers who choose not to be actively involved with Christ’s body are practicing a distortion. The Belgic Confession, to which many Reformed churches throughout the world
subscribe, says of the church,

We believe that  since this holy assembly and congregation is the  gathering of those who are saved and there is no salvation  apart from it,  no one ought to withdraw from it,  content to be by himself,  regardless of his status or condition.  But all people are obliged  to join and unite with it,  keeping the unity of the church  by submitting to its instruction and discipline,  by bending their necks under the yoke of Jesus Christ,  and by serving to build up one another,  according to the gifts God has given them  as members of each other  in the same body.  And so,  all who withdraw from the church  or do not join it  act contrary to God’s ordinance.  One way to prevent dropouts is to frequently teach and  demonstrate the corporate nature of the Christian faith.

2. A second means of preventing church dropouts is to stress the importance of small-group activity in the congregation. Every member should consider it not only a joy to attend worship services but also  to belong to at least one small group, where more intimate fellowship and mutual caring can take place.  This is becoming increasingly important, since along with the North American trend to individualism comes the trend to large churches. The large church has many advantages, but its members remain largely anonymous in large Sunday crowds. The larger the church, the more important a good small-group
ministry is. Small groups can meet for fellowship or Bible study or a specific ministry. But all small-group members, including those in the choir and church school classes, should be trained by the leadership to exercise mutual care, pray for one another (especially during times of need), and encourage one another. At the first sign of a member’s dropping out, the small-group ministry is crucial in helping that member experience the full power of the communion of the saints.
3. Finally, members in process of dropping out should be visited within the first six weeks. Research by LEAD Consultants has shown that the best time to reclaim disaffected members is within six to eight weeks. During this time the potential dropouts are in fact waiting for the church to pay attention to them so that they can talk about whatever is bothering them. After this initial two-month period it is much more difficult to re-involve such members.

Visiting Dropouts

Visiting inactive members requires patient listening and loving care. The church must be careful to avoid attitudes and language that say, “You ought to know better” or “You are being unfaithful to your promises” or “If only you had said something, we would have visited sooner.” These members often feel guilty
as it is; making them feel more guilty will make them angry or more hopeless. Frequently such members have gone through conflicts and feel considerable pain at having lost the fellowship of the church. But they will rarely share their true feelings upon a first (or even second and third) visit. The church must be prepared, therefore, to establish considerable trust before it can discover the real issues.  Some people who have visited inactive members have had to listen to considerable anger and accusations against the church. It takes maturity and love not to accuse in return but to remain calm and non-defensive and admit that the church frequently must still learn to live by the law of love it preaches.

Sometimes callers assume that members who have dropped out of church have also dropped out of the faith. However, most inactive members testify that they are still believers. Callers should respect such people’s position and treat them as fellow believers who need to be ministered to, rather than as unbelievers who need to be evangelized. It is important to stifle the urge to tell church dropouts that the faith of inactive members is frequently weak. Church dropouts are more likely to be won back by faith that issues in love than by preaching that demands faith as a response.  What about drop-outs from other congregations? Churches that are active in their neighborhoods will often come across inactive members of other congregations. Such people should be treated with the same respect and patience as members of your
own congregation. It is not helpful to agree with accusations against another church or to compare your church to another. [f after one or more visits it becomes apparent that the inactive members are ready to enter a church fellowship again, feel free to invite them to your own church after asking whether they would like to return to their former congregation. This is not “sheep stealing,” but rather winning back a wandering sheep into what is ultimately the one flock of our Lord. Sometimes an inactive member will
feel more comfortable in an entirely new congregation. And most congregations will be happy to hear that an inactive member has again become established in another Christian congregation.

Posted in AIS File Library, VF - Visitor Followup Ministry0 Comments

Following Up On Worship Service Visitors

FOLLOWING UP ON WORSHIP SERVICE VISITORS

Ruch Kennee

Probably the people most receptive to the gospel are those who have a good experience on their first visit to the church’s worship service and who are visited shortly afterwards.

Reasons for worship attendance may vary considerably. People may be “church shopping” because of dissatisfaction with their home church; they may be new residents who are looking for a church home; they may have dropped out of church some years ago and are now looking for a new relationship with Christ and the church; they may have received an invitation to worship from friends or neighbors; they may be a divorced woman and her children who are looking for a church home; they may be searching for meaning or ending a period of rebellion; they may come because of the witness of a co-worker who attends a
different church altogether; they may be attracted by the reputation of a pastor; they may be a couple who belong to different denominations and are looking for yet another denomination as a solution to their differences. The reasons are as varied as the people who come.

If, on the visit, people find a warm and accepting atmosphere, a cordial greeting, and a life-related message that is positive, challenging, and uplifting, they may return. Or they may not!

There is no substitute for home visits, especially on first-time worship attenders. Research in the United Methodist Church indicates that 85 percent of laypersons visited in their homes within the first thirty-six hours after worship attendance will return; 60 percent of those visited within seventy-two hours will return, and 15 percent of those visited within one week will return. Each of these percentages is cut in half if the pastor, rather than a layperson, does the visiting. (Net Results, January 1986).

Some churches have many worship visitors each week. Others have only one or two. In each case, follow-up is essential if the church has a harvest mentality. Churches that have only occasional visitors sometimes assume that follow-up on church attenders is for the fast-growing churches with a reputation for exciting worship services. Fast-growing churches, however, often start by concentrating on winning every
possible person in every possible way. Though today they may have dozens of first-time visitors every Sunday, at first they had only a few. However, they visited these potential new members, and when these first-time visitors became members, they were enthusiastic about the church. They in turn brought in more
first-time visitors, and the pattern of growth continued.

The church can only follow up on visitors if it learns their names and addresses. The entire congregation’s cooperation is needed, since this often requires changes in the worship service. How can a church learn visitor’s names and addresses!

Here are some suggestions:

* Instead of appointing worship greeters in alphabetical rotation, train a few greeters with the gift of hospitality or encouragement to be permanent greeters. These greeters should know all or most of the
members of the congregation. Before each service they should concentrate on greeting visitors and making them feel at home while obtaining their names and addresses. After the service, the greeters should make an effort to introduce visitors to the pastor.

* Set up a clearly identified visitor center in the church narthex. Members and greeters can bring visitors to the visitor center to sign the guest register and receive a packet of information about the church. Appoint one or more members to staff the visitor center.

* Incorporate a “friendship ritual” in each worship service, where the pastor welcomes both the congregation and visitors and where all worshipers-members and visitors alike-register their names on a
pad passed down each pew. When the pad is passed back to where it started, people can learn the names of visitors in the same pew and greet them after the service. The registration sheet on the pad may be called by a name such as “Faces in the Pew” or “Let’s Get Acquainted” or “There’s a Place for You at Fellowship Church.”

* In the hymnal rack, provide cards that register people and record needs or prayer requests. During the worship service ask both members and visitors to fill in a card-usually just before the offering, so that the card can be dropped in the offering plate. Again, both members and regular visitors should participate, since few first-time visitors will sign a pad or fill in a card unless the members also do so.

* Some churches welcome first-time visitors and then ask them to stand briefly while the ushers distribute visitor packets to each one. In the visitor packet is a card, which visitors are asked to fill out and either mail or drop into the offering plate. The congregation may then applaud the new visitors as a way of saying, “Great! We’re glad you are here.” Make the visitor packet too large to put in a purse or pocket, so that
members can easily identify visitors after the service and engage them in conversation.

* Some churches have a special tear-off section on the bulletin that visitors are urged to fill out and place in the offering plate.

* Some larger churches with many first-time visitors welcome them to a brief visitors’ reception following the service. At the reception, visitors are served simple refreshments and offered an information packet. The pastor tries to personally meet as many of the visitors as possible.

* Other large churches have a Sunday school class that has the same lesson and procedure each Sunday, in which visitors are introduced and information packets are distributed. The teacher presents the gospel
and explains how to become a member of church. This method works best when Sunday school comes after the morning worship service.

Churches can develop their own methods and take a good look at how to make visitors feel at home by using the EVANGELISM AND WORSHIP workshop available from Church Development Resources. They can also order a separate section of the workshop material, “Guidelines for Ushers and Greeters.”

Do We Call on All First-Time Visitors?

Every church that does this kind of calling learns to exclude some people from its list. Obviously, out-of-town visitors are not called on. Members of other congregations may be excluded (you will have to learn this by trial and error). If visitors are relatives of members, it may be best to call the members and ask if their relatives would appreciate a visit. Those visitors whose names are not given to follow up callers
should nonetheless be sent a letter or postcard thanking them for their visit and cordially inviting them to come again. A postcard with a picture of the church is ideal for this purpose. The pastor’s personal signature adds to this gesture of hospitality.

Is an Immediate Visit Best?

The research done by the United Methodist Church indicates that visits made on Monday and Tuesday are most effective. (Some churches even visit that Sunday.) Some congregations with a large volume of visitors use a different procedure: First-time visitors receive a phone call and/or a letter from the church. Second-time visitors receive a visit from a calling team.

Is It Best to Phone Ahead?

An article on this subject in Net Results (January 1985) indicates that most churches have found it best not to call ahead. The article reports that experienced visitors find it more effective to stop by without an appointment. The article suggests calling on ten first-time attenders without an appointment and trying to make an appointment with another ten. Churches that engage regularly in this kind of calling soon find
that answers to practical questions are answered by experience.

As in all calling programs, the church should be ready to adjust its strategy to fit local circumstances.

Who Should Do This Calling?

In small and beginning congregations, the pastor usually takes the leadership in this. If at all possible, he takes at least one other person along. In this way the work of visitation is accomplished and another person is equipped for this task. As the church grows, the pastor and the trainee do their calling separately, each taking along another person. After some time the pastor can drop out of the calling, except for daytime calls or those in which the first-time attender specifically requests a call from the pastor. When teams of members undertake the calling the pastor may decide to accompany them from time to time; and calling teams should ask each home they visit, “Would you like a call from our pastor?” Some research indicates that calls from member teams are more effective than calls from the pastor. Some churches, however, experience the exact opposite. It is important to discover the most effective approach for your community. If calls by the pastor are most effective, he ought to be relieved of other tasks if he is expected to make many follow-up calls of this kind.

The Call Itself

The primary aim of the first visit to first-time attenders is to listen, to assess needs, and to establish
relationship. Thank the people for coming to church and ask if they were made to feel at home. Did they enjoy the service? Are there any questions about the church or the worship service? What is their religious background? If they received an information packet about the church on Sunday, ask if you can explain or elaborate on some items. Review congregational activities or groups the people might be interested in, and be sure to issue an invitation for next Sunday.

Above all, however, listen. Try to stand in the shoes of the people you are visiting; be as helpful as you can.

If it becomes apparent that the host is a searching person who has never had an adult relationship with the church or is a church dropout on the way back, determine whether this first visit is the time to share the gospel or at least your personal testimony.

Evangelism Explosion, Congregational Evangelism Training, and Night of Caring have been especially successful where most of the calls are made on first-time church attenders. Other gospel explanations such as the Bridge to New Life may also be used. Callers, however, should make sure that they have built sufficient bridges to make a gospel presentation. The visit will be successful if the door is open to a second visit and the host returns to church the next Sunday.

As always, keep good records.

After the First Visit

Determine when the next visit should be scheduled and whether that visit should be by appointment (if one has not already been made) or unexpected in the regular routine of calling. It can also be very helpful if in the week following the visit someone will call to say, “We were delighted to have you at church this past Sunday. Would it be convenient for you to have lunch with us following this Sunday’s service?” The person who makes this call should be one of the follow-up callers or a church member who has several things in common with the prospective member.

Place the names of everyone visited on the church’s mailing list and issue a written invitation for the next
pastor’s class (known in some congregation as Discovery Class, Belonging Class, or Inquirers’ Class). The written invitation may be followed by a personal invitation, either in person or by telephone.

The Crestview Church in Boulder, Colorado, has developed the following form for visitor follow up. Note that the church has organized a Body Life Committee to make calls on worship visitors.

(front side)
NEWCOMER’S INFORMATION SHEET  BODY LIFE MINISTRY COMMITTEE  CRESTVIEW CHURCH

Date of Visit____________
NAME(S) _____________________________ ________________________________

ADDRESS _____________________________ City________________ Zip________

PHONE _____________________________

Children Living at Home:
_____________________________ Birthdate __________ Grade _____
_____________________________ __________ _____
_____________________________ __________ _____

INITIAL CALL

Prior Place of residence:

Prior Church Affiliation:

Current Occupation/Place of Employment:

Interests and Hobbies:

Involvement in Prior Church:

Situation of married or single children not at Home:
(Grandchildren?)

Additional special interest items and/or concerns:

What questions did the newcomer ask about Crestview?

(back side)

What intent was expressed with regard to future participation in Crestview’s ministry?
____Strongly interested ____Mildly interested ____Not interested

I left the following information with this individual/family?
_____Church Directory _____Heidelberg Catechism
_____Belonging Booklet _____Time/Talent Survey Sheet

FOLLOW-UP

I contacted the following persons regarding this individual/family’s interest and talents:
_____Pastor ______Chairperson of Deacons
_____Education Director ______Campus Pastor
_____Choir Director ______Body Life Ministry Leader

I explained the following ministry opportunities to this individual/family:
_____Worship Services (A.M. & P.M.) _____Women’s Bible Study
_____House Church _____Moms & Tots
_____Adult Education _____Men’s Study Group
_____Church School _____Men’s Fellowship Breakfast
_____Children’s Worship _____Summer Program
_____Choir _____Crestview Camp
_____Koinonia _____Inter-Varsity
_____Calvinettes _____Graduate Bible Study
_____Cadets _____Community Service Programs
_____Pastor’s Class (Household Connections, Emergency Shelter, St. Tom’s Food Bank, Echo House)

I called to personally invite this individual/family to a particular program on the following date(s):

Date of Call: _______________________ Program: _______________________
Date of Call: _______________________ Program: _______________________
Date of Call: _______________________ Program: _______________________

The following person has agreed to serve as a “Partner” for this individual/family for the next 6 months:______________________________

Report submitted by:

_________________________________
Body Life Ministry Member

Churches should consider at least one annual program or activity especially designed to attract unchurched and unbelieving people in the community. Consider the following possibilities:
* annual vacation Bible school
* summertime backyard Bible Clubs
* a film series such as the Dobson series on the family
* musical programs such as a Christian band to attract  youth, an organ concert, organ and choir concert, a concert  featuring a well-known soloist, and so on
* an accredited speaker or workshop leader on a topic  that meets a known community need such as marriage and family  concerns, budgeting and other financial concerns, aging,  nutrition, and so on
* a three-, six-, or twelve-week seminar such as the  Family Life Series published by Church Development Resources.
* three or four days of crusade-type meetings culminating on a  Sunday

In addition, a church may have ongoing activities that are
geared to the community or to both the community and the church:
* Sunday school
* boys’ and girls’ clubs
* small-group Bible study such as Coffee Break and Men’s Life
* week-day program for preschool children such as Story Hour
* support groups for single parents, divorced people,  the widowed, parents experiencing tough problems with teenagers,  Alcoholics Anonymous or Al Anon, and so on
* Parents’ Night Out-offering babysitting one night a  week to enable parents to go shopping, see a movie, and so on
* Family Night-a light supper, followed by activities  and classes appropriate to various age groups

RECORD KEEPING

Some forms of visitation require little or no record keeping. Distributing flyers to invite people to church, for example, requires merely that caller keep a record of significant conversations or a promise of a return visit.

Most forms of visitation, however, require excellent record keeping so that the church can effectively follow up on those who are receptive to the gospel and to further visits.

In an excellent chapter on visitation in Twelve Keys to an Effective Church (Harper & Row), Kennon L. Callahan observes that people are more likely to drive to a church that lies in the same direction as their work and major shopping centers. He also notes, “It will take possibly five visits to reach a household where the traffic direction pattern and the location of the church are compatible. It may take nine or more visits to reach a household if you are inviting them to go to church in a direction different from their normal traffic pattern” (p. 17). Herb Miller, editor of the evangelism newsletter New Results, writes that
“repetitive personal contact between nonmembers and members is the most important single factor in church growth” (Tools for Active Christians, Bethany Press). Miller suggests that a first-time worship visitor or other prospect should receive “a total of four calls during four consecutive weeks,” with the
pastor making a fifth “decision” call. In addition, Miller suggests that after new people have joined the church, they be contacted in three consecutive weekly visits by people involved in programs in which the new members or their children could be interested (pp. 83-84).

All of this suggests that careful records are very important for any organized visitation strategy. If the church adopts a plan in which different people visit the same home for a number of weeks or even if the same members return to the same home, callers should keep a record of the dates of those visits and some indication of what happened in the visit. In some instances the person visited will indicate that he or she is
definitely not interested in further contact. Continued contact would mean a serious intrusion in their lives. In other instances there may be unresolved questions that should be taken up in the next visit. A written record will note these things.

The church should have a card for each home or person it has contacted. “The holiest object in my church was a battered wooden box,” writes George Sweazey. “The congregation would not have been pleased to have it on the Communion table. It was not displayed among the symbols of our faith, but nothing in the
church was more symbolic, for in that box was our file of prospective members. This exaltation of a prospect list does not confuse the church with a sales agency. That list was our mission field” (The Church as Evangelist, p. 91).

One person should be in charge of the record box and make assignments from it. Never take cards from the church; instead, issue duplicates to callers, who should enter their comments and return the duplicate to the person in charge, who can transfer the remarks to the original. The evangelism committee should regularly review the cards and decide on the next steps.

Sweazey reports that his congregation placed the cards in the following categories:
to See seem interested
for cultivation
for commitment
will join
not much chance

“Moving cards around in the file . . . was a drama,” he writes. “A drama with vaulting hopes and crushing disappointment.”

Soon after Meadowvale Community Church was founded in Mississauga, Ontario, the church set up an ambitious visitation program and trained callers in Congregational Evangelism Training. A key to the program’s success was the carefully administered “result cards.” The chairman of the evangelism
committee kept and organized these cards and color-coded them in categories such as
return immediately
pastoral call requested
continue to call as there is opportunity
call again in three months
call again in one year

Beginning an effective record system is easy. Start the record by listing all those with whom the church is currently in touch. Consider the following:
community children in youth programs
Sunday school contacts
vacation Bible school contacts
unchurched friends and associates of members
unchurched relatives of members
people on the church’s mailing list
recent worship visitors
new residents in the church’s parish area
people who have used the church’s food pantry
crusade follow-up requests

The church should regularly encourage members to add the list. In addition, the church may develop programs and activities that meet its neighbors’ needs and put it in contact with more people. Door-to-door calling may also generate new contacts. Such calling should be seen, however, as an exercise in sorting resistant people from receptive people.

A church may design its own cards or purchase cards from suppliers.

Posted in AIS File Library, VF - Visitor Followup Ministry0 Comments

Evangelism: The Visitor Follow-Up

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.

IN CONCLUSION

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

Name_______________________________________________ Date________________

Address____________________________________ City________________________

Two Major Cross Streets_________________________________________________

Telephone_______________________________________________________________

Friends/Relatives in Church_____________________________________________

Church Affiliation______________________________________________________

Married?_______________________________________Approx. Age______________

Comments________________________________________________________________

————————————————————————

Assignment Card BACK
————————————————————————

First Contact Date______________ Your Name(s)___________________________

Results__________________________________________________ HBS?__________

Second Contact Date_____________ Your Name(s)___________________________

Results__________________________________________________ HBS?__________

Third Contact Date______________ Your Name(s)___________________________

Results__________________________________________________ HBS?__________

Fourth Contact Date_____________ Your Name(s)___________________________

Results__________________________________________________ HBS?__________
Final Analysis

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
————————————————————————

Prospective
Home Bible Study Contacts

Prospect’s Name______________________________________________________
Prospect’s Address___________________________________________________
Prospect’s Phone_____________________________________________________
Study is for: Group_______________ Single Individual_________________
Best: Day___________________________ Time____________________________
========================================================================

Your Name____________________________________________________________
Your Phone___________________________________________________________
Prospect’s interest is:
________________Definite
________________Interested
________________Slight
**Do YOU wish to teach this study?_______________

============================For Office Use Only=========================
Teacher Assigned______________________________________________________
Starting Date_____________ Day______________ Time_____________________
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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

Tom Smith
3837 Keystone Ave.
Woodland, CA 95695

Dear Tom:

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:

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Revival Follow-Up Questionnaire

REVIVAL FOLLOW-UP QUESTIONNAIRE

1. Which of the services did you attend?

___ Tuesday, film Wonderman
___ Wednesday, What’s Behind Rock Music
___ Thursday, Mark of the Beast

2. How did you hear about these services?

___ newspaper ___ radio ___ word of mouth
___ sign in store ___ sign at church ___ handout

3. What influenced you most to come, someone asking you, interest in subjects presented or other?

___________________________________________________________________

4. If you attended more than one service, which did you enjoy most and why?

___________________________________________________________________

5. How many people shook your hand, said “Hello, we’re glad you are here,” or in any way made you feel welcome?

____________________________________________________________________

6. Were the ushers quick and kind in finding you a seat? ___ Yes ___ No

Was you seat comfortable? ___ Yes ___ No

Could you see and hear well  enough? ___ Yes ___ No

7. What was your reaction to the music?

_____________________________________________________________________
(suggested answers–too loud, not loud enough, too fast, dragging,  uplifting, lively, inappropriate for church, different from what  you’re used to, foot-tapping, enjoyable, boring, etc.)

8. What if anything was said or done by any individual which may have  offended you?

_____________________________________________________________________

9. What was your reaction to the slides or film presentations?

_____________________________________________________________________
(suggested answers–boring, kept me on edge of seat, felt immediate  need to get right with God, too long, hard to believe, believed every  word, proved the point, wanted to see more, etc.)

10. During the altar service, how many people asked you if you would  like to pray?

____________________________________________________________________

11. How many people invited you to come back?

____________________________________________________________________

12. Would you consider visiting our church again?

____________________________________________________________________

13. Would you mind if we put your name on our mailing list to inform you  when we have special services?

____________________________________________________________________

14. Have you ever thought you might want to be filled with the Holy  Ghost?

____________________________________________________________________

15. Would you be interested in studying the Bible in you home?

____________________________________________________________________

16. Would you be willing to let one of the families from our church  visit you?

____________________________________________________________________

______________________________
Name of Visitor

______________________________
Date

______________________________
Name of Interviewer

(The above material was a sample form prepared by the Church of Jesus Christ in Springville, IN.)

Christian Information Network

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