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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Recent Comments
Yea! You fixed it!
 
— Mr. Troy Reynolds
 
I just discovered this today and am looking forward to exploring the content on here. It looks like it could be very helpful. Just an FYI - in your paragraph on not putting out B+ material you have a typo. A little ironic. :-) The third sentence begins with "You time" not "Your time."
 
— Troy Reynolds
 
I'm lost, to say the least! As a new pastor, taking over a newly started church I have read just about everything there is to learn what I can do to grow the church. I truly beleive that those attending our church are friendly and sincere. So that can't be the issue. I have read all the comments to this article and I feel that most churches will never have a fair chance! We are a VERY small church, so we don't have a children's church (yet). So if a family comes and gets upset that we don't have a children's church for them to put their children into, we lose! We do provide things for their kids to do during the service and even have an option for their kids to be in a different room, if they don't want their kids to sit with them. We are also such a small church that we don't have a worship team/band/etc. Our worship music comes from music videos. The congregation we do have likes it this way, but of course we would love to have a worhsip team. So, if someone comes to our church and is upset that we don't have live music, we lose! The point I am trying to make is that when people come in with preconceived ideas of what a church should be like, they will never find a church home, unless they find a church who's goal is to entertain! Every Sunday our message comes from the Bible, so that can't be a complaint for someone, so instead, people leave the church and never come back because they want more from a church: they don't want friendly people who are following the Word of God; they want a church that give them something (a babysitter for their kid, entertainment, free gifts, etc.) I'm sorry if sound cynical, I truly want everyone to hear the Good News and learn about Christ's love, but if they come in looking for something else, then the church will always lose!
 
— JAG
 

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