6 Ways to Close the Backdoor Through Follow-Up

The church of 150 in attendance averaged two first-time guests a week, or 100 a year. How many joined the church? Only three.

The church had no follow-up in place for guests.

The church of 225 in attendance had a high attendance day of 360, with 75 guests attending that single day. How many of the 75 eventually joined the church? Only two.

The church had no follow-up in place for guests.

The church of 550 in attendance has had a Christmas event the past ten years that draws 1,500 people each year. That’s 15,000 in ten years. How many new members can the church trace to the Christmas event? Zero. None. Nada.

The church had no follow-up in place for guests.

So what’s going on? Why are so many of our churches lousy at follow-up? I can point to at least six clear reasons.

  1. The church has no plan in place for follow-up. Follow-up does not just happen. A Great Commission church will know exactly what it’s supposed to do and who is supposed to do it every time a guest visits the church.
  2. Follow-up takes place outside the walls, a place of discomfort for many church members. A church’s follow-up ministry team needs to have the most outwardly focused members doing the ministry. Too many church members fear connecting with people outside the comfort of the walls of the church building.
  3. Follow-up ministry is not as splashy as other ministries. It often goes without encouragement or recognition.
  4. Follow-up ministry can become discouraging. Most of the time we focus on the five who expressed no desire to connect with our church rather than the one who did. We need to celebrate our follow-up ministries more.
  5. Follow-up ministry is not emphasized or recognized by leadership. That which is rewarded by leadership often gets the attention of the rest of the church. Not many leaders recognize or reward this ministry.
  6. Follow-up ministry is not even considered a ministry in many churches. Go to the websites of a number of churches. See how many of them mention some type of follow-up ministry as one of the ministries of the church. For many church members, that ministry simply does not appear to exist.

If our churches and their leaders would begin to elevate the importance of follow-up ministries incrementally, we would likely see a disproportionately positive response. It’s an incredible opportunity most churches are missing.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources.  Prior to LifeWay, he served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for twelve years where he was the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism.  He is a 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama and earned his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition to speaking in hundreds of venues over the past 20 years, Rainer led Rainer Group, a church and denominational consulting firm, from 1990 to 2005. The firm provided church health insights to over 500 churches and other organizations over that period. Rainer and his wife, Nellie Jo, have three grown sons: Sam, Art and Jess, who are married to Erin, Sarah and Rachel respectively.  The Rainers have six grandchildren: Canon, Maggie, Nathaniel, Will (with the Lord), Harper, and Bren. He is the author of twenty-four books, including Breakout Churches, Simple Life, Simple Church, Raising Dad, The Millennials, and Essential Church.  His latest book, Autopsy of a Deceased Church, was released in 2014 by B&H Publishing Group.

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COMMENTS

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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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