The No. 1 problem most churches don’t know they have is a follow-up problem. Far too many people come through the front doors of our churches and leave weeks or months later out the back doors. Sadly, many churches are stunting their own growth and outreach by ignoring people. They let people slip through the cracks.
For a guest or lapsed member, it is painful to feel ignored and forgotten by your church. You can solve a lot of your ministry outreach problems just by keeping records and faithfully following-up on people in your membership and visitor database.
Keeping a data base is one of the best tools that you can use in ministry. With it, you can track ministry information that will help you when planning ministry outreach events.
If your church does not keep records of visitors, then start doing so immediately. Keeping good records is good stewardship. Recording the people who visit your church and documenting your church follow-up actions, provides you with an understanding of what your current strategy is and how effective it is at reaching the unchurched in your area.
A database is a collection of information that you can use to make decisions. How you create this database is up to you. It could simply be a list of names in a notebook, or just a card file in a box. Or, use one of a variety of computer database programs on the market. It doesn’t have to be a sophisticated program.
Whatever you choose, the trick is to use it. Keep accurate records and refer back to them when making key decisions. Keep track of visitors’ names, addresses, ages and children’s names and addresses. Log any correspondence sent to them, visits made, and even observations of contacts with the visitors. Then use this information.
With accurate records, you will be better able to plan outreach and follow through on your church’s communications. A follow-up plan or system can be designed to make sure nobody slips through the cracks in your ministry. Keeping track of communication with the people you want to reach will help you develop a deeper understanding of them.
Unfortunately, many churches are more adept at keeping track of every penny that comes through the church than they are of every person who comes through. Why is that? It’s because laws keep churches accountable for their money. We don’t know of any churches that don’t keep financial records. We meet many who say they can’t afford a membership database, yet they have sophisticated church accounting software. Churches know they should hold themselves financially accountable to be good managers of the church’s money. After all it really is the Lord’s money.
Why not lead your church to use the same stewardship standards for people as is does for money? To become accountable in outreach in your community, start using a database by tracking your activities and the responses of the people who come to your ministries. You’ll see how it improves your ministry marketing.
Use your database to create a list of birthdays of those involved in your ministry so you can send out birthday greetings and pray for people. If you don’t have a database then your action point is to create a filing system that you can use to track information about the people involved in your ministry.
Chris Forbes is the founder of MinistryMarketingCoach.com and also serves as the Marketing Evangelism Specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. He has served as the Interactive Media Specialist for PurposeDriven™ Ministries and as Media Strategist for the International Mission Board, SBC.