Developing a 4 Week Follow -Up Plan
J. Marcus Merritt
Recently a pastor contacted me for assistance. He reported that last year his church held their most successful fall festival ever-literally hundreds of unchurched people attended. Then he explained his problem. In his words they had “failed miserably” with the follow-up. Unfortunately, this particular church put all of its planning on the front end and failed to realize that when the event is over, the work is only half done. The follow-up must be as carefully planned as the event itself.
No event should ever be held without registering every attendee. Guest Registration is the key to follow-up. Many churches offer door prizes or other incentives to encourage people to fill out a registration card. Those cards are then assigned to the Sunday School class that could best minister to them. After the event is over, a typical four week follow-up plan might look something like this:
Week 1: representatives from the assigned Sunday School class should make an in-home visit. It is always nice to give the person a small gift. This breaks the ice. You might give them a digital photograph made at the event, or a bag of cookies from the church, etc. Always include information about the church: name of church, worship times, phone number, web info, etc. After you leave the home, make a notation on the back of the registration card concerning your visit.
Week 2: A different person from the class might hand-write the attendee a thank you note on church letter head. The writer should include his/her name (and sign your name) and let them know that you are ready to answer any questions they may have about the church. As Jerry Tidwell pointed out, a handwritten note or letter will stand out in the mailbox and will likely be the first thing opened. Don’t forget to make a notation on the back of the registration card that a letter was sent.
Week 3: someone from the class should make a telephone call. After introductions, thank them for attending the event, and let them know that your class has a prayer time each week. Ask if there is anything that your class could pray for them about. That is a very non-threatening question: “Can I pray for you about anything?” Often this question leads to a spiritual discussion, or at least provides opportunity for follow-up calls. Make a notation on the back of the registration card as to the nature of your phone call.
Week 4: a class member can send an email or text message. Also, ask if you can “friend” them on Facebook. Once again, don’t forget to notate your contact on the back of the registration card.
The point is to stay in touch with people but not become a nuisance. By reaching out in a variety of ways (visits, phone calls, letters, emails, etc) people do not feel threatened. If after four or five weeks they still have not come to church, you may want to put them in a “cold case file.” You will not totally forget about them, you are just giving them a little space. But, include them in any future mail-outs for special events (VBS, concerts, revivals, other special events, etc.). With every contact be ready to share the Gospel with them. Just be sensitive to the leadership of the Holy Spirit.For more information about outreach and follow-up, contact the Office of Evangelism Ministries at the Georgia Baptist Convention.