What is the most effective way to collect contact information from your church’s guests? One of the larger churches that uses GuestView to manage their guest follow-up ministry has a membership of over 3,000. In this case study we’ll observe some changes they made to collecting guest information and use GuestView’s trend display to analyze the effectiveness.

From late 2004 through early 2007, this church collected guest information by asking guests to raise their hands during the service, handing out guest welcome packets to them, and asking them to fill out an information card in the welcome packet and place it in the offering plate. For this entire time period, the church averaged 23 response cards per week. GuestView’s trends page shows the last few weeks of this time period:

Trend 1

In early 2007, the church’s pastors decided that handing out visitor welcome packets was taking too much precious meeting time for a church with multiple morning services. So they changed their strategy to invite guests to a reception after the service, handing out welcome packets and response cards at that reception. As you might guess, some guests were unable or unwilling to attend the guest reception, so the guest card response rate went down significantly. For four months the church averaged a response rate of only 4.3 guest response cards per week:

Trend 2

While discussing this with the church’s guest follow-up ministry team, we suggested that they consider including a guest response card within the bulletin that guests receive when they enter the service, and invite guests to fill out the card and leave it in the offering plate. The church’s pastors decided to make this change, while still inviting guests to a reception after the service. After making this change, the church’s guest card response rate shot up; over the next several months they averaged 35 guest response cards returned per week:

Trend 3

This is the highest response rate of all three cases. More people will raise their hand in the service than will attend a guest reception. And still more people will fill out a guest response card in their bulletin than are willing to raise their hand in the service.

Based on this case study, we recommend the following:

  1. If you have a Sunday bulletin, include your guest response card in the bulletin and ask guests to place the card in the offering plate. The response card can be a loose bulletin insert, or it can be a tear-off section or tab on the bulletin itself. We have observed that this produces the highest rate of card return.
  2. If you have time during your service, consider handing out a welcome packet to your guests. This could include a pamphlet of information on your church and pastors, a gift card to your bookstore, a CD sampling some of your church’s music, etc.
  3. If you have time and resources after your service, consider hosting a reception for your guests. It doesn’t have to be elaborate — a few cookies and a little bit of coffee goes a long way. This provides interested guests an opportunity to get to know pastors and leaders of the church, ask questions, etc.