I believe in healthy church growth that seeks out non-believers, invites them to Jesus and the church, encourages them to attend a local body, and then follows up with them for ministry and conversation. To do all these things, I realize you must get contact information from folks. So, I understand when a church asks me as a guest to fill out a visitor’s card.
At the same time, I seriously wrestle with whether to complete the card. In fact, I may choose not to. Here’s why:
- I’m highly introverted. You know this information if you’re a regular reader. I don’t want to be singled out once you have my name. You may never intend to do that – that’s not the way your church greets guests – but I don’t know that when you give me a card. I feel safer when I can control my space.
- Your process puts me on the spot before I ever get a card. If I have to raise my hand in order for someone to give me a card, I’m probably not going to do it. You might as well turn a spotlight on me and interrogate me.
- I don’t know what you’re going to do to me. Seriously. I don’t know what you’ll expect of me after you get my card. I’ve been asked to stand. To give some information about me and my family. To tell where I live in the community. To come forward. To raise my hand so they’ll see my hand waving in a crowd of hundreds. Again, you probably don’t do these things, but I don’t know that as a guest.
- My email inbox is already too full. If I give you my email address, that just means more emails to respond to (or delete). And, when I’ve given my address in the past, it’s not just one “welcome and thank you” email I receive. It’s apparently seemingly every email the church sends out.
- I’m afraid you’ll be knocking on my door each week. Please hear me on this one: I still believe door-to-door visitation and evangelism works in many setttings, and I’m not arguing against that approach. I just know that I’m often traveling during the week, and I don’t want strangers coming to our door when my wife is alone. Call us, and let’s set up a time to meet if that’s the next best step.
- I’m not looking for a church home. That’s most often my situation. I’m visiting as a church consultant, or I’m there to spend time with a friend. I have my church home. Filling out a card might imply more than I want to imply – or it might put into motion a follow up system that really doesn’t apply to me.
- You haven’t given me time to complete the card and/or told me what I should do with it. If I have only a few minutes to fill out the card, I’ll still be deciding whether to do it when the opportunity passes. And, if you haven’t told me what to do with the card if I do complete it (or, if your directions are for me to find someone to give it to), I will see no reason to do it.
So, how can you help people like me? Primarily, tell me up front what you will do with my information. If you tell me you’re not going to embarrass me or hound me, I’ll be more inclined to start a conversation with you. Then, keep your word.
What thoughts would you want to add?