Local visitors present local opportunities for the local christian mysticism. The local church has an open opportunity for both outreach and follow-up through its visitors. Churches are limited by limited resources, but these same churches may utilize their internal resources to optimize their opportunities.
The local church entertains visitors Sunday by Sunday, depending on the evangelism and outreach conducted by the congregation within its local community. The church has a calling to go and make disciples, adhering to the parting words of the resurrected Jesus Christ. This is oftentimes referred as the Great Commission. This typically manifests in interactions between believers and unbelievers through collective and individual activities conducted within the community. Such evangelism efforts produce visitors.
Visitors come from all sorts of places. The church should pay careful attention to how it encounters its visitors, offering an environment that exudes with the love of Christ. The environment can make visitors feel right at home or ready to hit the door as soon as possible. The clergy and laity of the congregation may never become aware of what turned some people away from their church.
Visitors also come from all walks of life. There will be some who are familiar with the liturgy and protocol of church conduct based upon Christian experience, while others will come with no idea of what to expect out of a church’s worship service except for what may have been shared with them by others. The church needs to be in a ready position to receive a wide variety of people from all sorts of walks of life.
Once visitors arrive at the church, they present an open opportunity for the clergy and congregation to win them over. In the recent seeker-friendly movement among Christian churches, this has been summed up into how much a church can woo and wow its visitors with the bells and whistles of its worship services and programs. Unfortunately, the wow factor of a two-hour worship service may be a short-lived experience once the benediction has been given from the pulpit.
While visitors are in the church and at the worship service, the local church needs to include measures for visitors to offer immediate feedback. Some local churches incorporate registration cards for visitors upon entry into the church at a visitors station usually located in the vestibule, foyer or lobby of the church building. Others use a guest book for visitors to sign in and leave their information. Some progressive, forward-thinking churches even offer visitor registration at electronic kiosks. These mechanisms allow the church to capture visitor contact information such as name, address, telephone number and email address. Although other information may be captured by the church’s visitor registration, the aforementioned information is the most critical information for contact and follow-up actions.
Also, the local church can also survey visitors after the worship service. This may be conducted through a short survey with yes or no answers or a rating system. Make the questions short and clear, limiting each question to a single, straightforward question. Leave room for comments. These should be collected in the offering baskets or plates at the end of worship as the worship leader or pastor encourages visitors to fill out the response cards or surveys prior to leaving the church.
All visitor information should be collected and distributed to one point of contact within the church. It may be delegated to the deacons or elders of the church since these are usually those who handle the offering baskets, and then passed on to the assigned designee for data input into the church’s database by the Monday or Tuesday immediately following the worship service.
That should be the point where the real work on winning over local visitors should continue beyond the worship service.
Typically, the church needs to be in contact with its visitors within the week of the visitation. Some churches utilize a form letter to thank visitors for attending worship services. Others send an email through an email delivery service like Constant Contact or Mail Chimp. The visitor information collected by the church should also include who informed the visitor about the church if it had been by personal contact or how the visitor found out about the church such as Google search, social networks or localized community press advertisements. This information should assist the church’s leadership in determining which methods equating to reaching local visitors within the community.
Additionally, other churches incorporate volunteers from within the congregation who have the spiritual gift of hospitality to telephone visitors, thanking them for their visit and answer any questions that the visitor may have on their mind regarding the church, its belief and its programs. Based upon the visitor’s information on file, the volunteer can share particular programs and upcoming events that may be relevant to the visitor. The volunteer should also ask the direct question if the visitor would be interested in returning to the church in the future. These volunteers should have a script to guide these telephone calls as well as a sheet for recording responses and to maintain a running log of visitor responses to questions throughout the telephone call. This data should be passed on to the pastor or a staff member in charge of evangelism and outreach for future reference and further follow-up activities.