I’ve previously written about ways that churches have greeted our “spies”/guests over the years. I’ve also written about surprising things that church members said to guests. Both posts included some unfortunate (even embarrassing) reminders that church folks aren’t always as sensitive as we need to be with guests. Others have written about the best ways to connect with guests or secrets to getting guests to fill out information cards.
That said – and fully recognizing that nobody wants to be embarrassed as a guest – I still think it’s important to work to secure contact information from guests. Here’s why:
- It’s difficult to follow up with people if you don’t know who they are. I realize that’s an obvious reality—but some churches somehow hope they can follow up well without ever securing this information.
- Even if people don’t want to be put on the spot, that doesn’t always mean they’re unwilling to identify themselves. They’ve chosen to come to your church, and something has led them to make that choice. It’s not that they don’t want anyone to know their name; they just don’t want to be embarrassed or harassed.
- You can learn a lot from contact information. Depending on what information you request—and I argue for less rather than more—you can still learn: the best means to contact someone, the number of guests who are visiting from out of town, the guests who are seeking a local church home, prayer concerns that people carry, those who might welcome a visit, etc.
- Guest numbers can give you a hint at what’s happening in the church. Here, I’m talking more about actual numbers of guests than about contact information—but it seems to me that both overlap. For example, churches in growing areas might assume more first-time guests, but they also need to monitor whether those guests return for second and third visits. If few people return, something might be amiss. Or, churches in the midst of conflict tend to have fewer first-time guests and certainly fewer return guests; not only do church members stop inviting friends when the church is a mess, but guests also often quickly sense the negative in the atmosphere. On the other hand, churches on the move tend to record growing numbers of guests who return. Thus, to never secure this information is to miss one way to evaluate the health of a church.
- You can pray better for your community. Make sure that your contact card provides a place to share prayer concerns – and then be sure to pray. When you’ve genuinely prayed, you can also then follow up again simply because you’ve taken those needs to the Father. Frankly, I think you’ll love your community better if you pray more for folks who visit your church.
What other reasons would you add to this list?