If your church didn’t livestream your Sunday morning services a year ago, that opportunity has likely changed by now. In doing so, you have probably noticed that more than just your church members are watching your service. These online guests may be family members or friends of church members or even people who found your church through Google or Facebook. The barriers to attend a service have been stripped away and nearly everyone is looking for hope and a connection with other people.
Let’s not miss this opportunity to share the gospel, usher someone into the kingdom, and bring them into our church family. Here are four ways to follow up with your church’s online guests.
1. Don’t just stream your service; host your service.
Hosting your online service means you’re intentional about creating an environment online that’s welcoming, personal, and initiates an openness to the gospel.Whether you’re using Facebook live or streaming your service on another platform, be sure to have dedicated online greeters in the chat function to make people feel welcomed. Greeting a guest by name and asking them a friendly question or two can go a long way.
2. Be sure you have a simple digital connection card.
Most of us are used to seeing some form of a connection card surface during a worship gathering each Sunday. Your online connection card should be no different. However, the digital version must be simple to get to and to fill out. I suggest reducing the number of fields to fill in on the card to only what is absolutely necessary to follow up like name, email, phone, and three additional drop down boxes.
For the drop down boxes, the first box is to determine if they’re a first-time guest and the second box should be reduced options to indicate what they might be interested in (for example: group Bible study, volunteering, baptism, membership, or having someone contact them). The final box is for someone to identify if they prayed to receive Christ.
3. Have a clear follow-up process in place.
You likely already have some type of follow-up process in place, but you need one that is specific this season of ministry. Personal visits, baskets of fresh-baked bread, meeting for coffee, and other common best practices for follow-up are may not be the best or most welcome options at this time. But while there are limitations, there are opportunities.
The frequency of contact can be greatly increased during this time, so a good rule of thumb is to have three connections in that first week, each with their own focus in mind. Let them know how great it was to have them with you on Sunday with a “Thanks for being with us” email text or call and let them know you are here for their family. Next comes an email seeking to connect them to the church. This is where you give them any information they requested in the connection card but also a great opportunity to invite them to virtual coffee or Bible study. The last contact is at the end of the week and is of an invitational nature letting them know that we “hope to see you again this Sunday.”
4. Have the right people hosting and doing follow-up.
People are carriers of culture. Whomever you choose to host your service and run the follow-up process will be a direct reflection of your church. Many times when your connection process fails it’s not caused by the process itself but by the people running the process.
Don’t only look for tech savvy people. Look for people who “get” hospitality, are good listeners, and love your church. You’re looking for ambassadors for your church who will be warm and caring but will also represent you well and follow through. Give them access to any tools they need and commission these ambassadors to make the calls, send the emails, connect them to groups and ministries, and even have that virtual coffee.
While this season provides unique challenges for engagement in our ministries, it also provides untold chances to engage people in new, innovative ways, meeting them where they are. Let’s steward these opportunities well.