6 Actions for Calling First Time Guests

Phone calls are an important connection point with church guests. Not all guests will give you their phone numbers. For those who do, here are some guidelines to consider.

What to Do When Calling Church Guests

Clearly identify yourself. Make sure you mention your name and the name of your church. It’s easy to forget this step!

Double-check the name of the person you are calling. I tend to make my phone calls in batches. After I’ve made several phone calls, I can lose track who I am calling. When I’m making several phone calls in a row, I’ll write the name of the person on a Post-It Note and have it right in front of me. For each call, I’ll use a fresh Post-It Note.

Ask how you can serve them. You should ask every guest if you can help them. People new to the community need help with local connections. People with life changes often have spiritual questions.

Ask if they have prayer requests. One of the best ways a church can serve a guest is through prayer. Always ask guests how you can pray for them.

Ask if they have any questions about the church. Some guests have questions. Most will not ask unless you prompt them. Encourage guests to ask questions. Through the pattern of questions people ask, you’ll learn something about your guests and your church.

Be kind, be brief, and call at a convenient time. Kindness and brevity are a must. Also, early morning calls and late evening calls are ill-advised.

What Not to Do When Calling Church Guests

Don’t wait to follow-up. Call within the week of a guest’s visit. A Sunday visitor should receive a phone call by Wednesday, Thursday at the latest.

Don’t ask personal questions. There is a time and place for questions like, “Where do you work?” A phone call with a first-time guest is not one of those occasions.

Don’t use pressure as a tactic. With church guests, you’re not closing a deal. Rather, you should look for avenues to serve them. Aggressiveness is unnecessary and will scare away most people.

Don’t attempt to tell jokes. It’s awkward. Not many people can land a good joke over the phone with someone they don’t know.

The phone call is one means of communication with church guests. You should also write a letter and send an email if you have the contact information. My church now asks for social media handles from our guests as well. Contact someone two or three times, spread out over a couple of weeks. With your phone calls, follow this list of things to do and not to do.

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Sam Rainer III

Sam serves as president of Rainer Research. His desire is to provide answers for better church health. He also serves as senior pastor at Stevens Street Baptist Church Cookeville, TN. Sam is the co-author of the book, Essential Church. He is a theological review editor at CrossBooks and regular contributor to Church Executive magazine. He has written dozens of articles on church health for numerous publications, and he is a frequent conference speaker. Before submitting to the call of ministry, Sam worked in a consulting role for Fortune 1000 companies. Sam holds a B.S. in Finance and Marketing from the University of South Carolina and an M.A. in Missiology from Southern Seminary. He is currently working on his Ph.D. in Leadership Studies at Dallas Baptist University.

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Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
— Debra
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
— Laurie
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)

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