How to Follow Up with New People

With the popularity of the Fusion book and all of the other Assimilation resources and training that I get to do, you can imagine how much feedback and how many questions I get about how to best integrate, or “assimilate” new people into your church.

Here’s one of the more common questions:

Since we already email and call (and possibly send a form letter to) all of our first time guests, do I really need to write a handwritten note to each of them?


The handwritten note is MORE important and impactful than either the email or the calls.

The handwritten note shows that you took some actual time writing out a personalized note, rather than simply plugging their name into a database and pressing “send”. On top of that, the handwritten note is more likely to be opened than a form letter (see my ABC Mail video for more about this).

And don’t forget to include a free gift of some sort – a $5.00 gas card or similar is what I recommend in most areas.

A Word of Caution on Phone Calls

If you’re currently calling your church’s guests, I am not sure the calls should come from someone other than the pastor – you might want to find out what kind of response your current callers are getting.

What I hear over and over is that the volunteer caller ‘so wants to please the pastor’ that they fail to tell you how awkward the calls feel or the weird, quick or snippy responses they get from the people they’re calling.

If you really want to test the value of your follow-up phone calls, I would personally take 10 – 12 people over the next month and call them – then decide if you want to continue or not.

Here’s why: In 90% of the areas of the country I work in, phone calls are more likely to ‘push people away’ rather than draw them back – the only exception we’ve found is senior adult communities in Florida, Arizona or California. Unchurched people find it particularly intruding.

That said, if you do call, the best hope is that you get the voice mail – that can work for you if the voice mail is well done, scripted and personal.

If you want to improve first time guest follow-up at your church this week, I suggest you send a brief, handwritten note to each of them with a $5 gas card included. It’s a proven “wow” that goes a long way with new people!

And let me know how it goes.

P.S. To learn everything I’ve learned over the years about assimilating new people into your church, consider investing in The Assimilation Intensive Workshop.

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About Nelson Searcy

Nelson Searcy is an experienced church growth strategist, pastor, church planter and coach, consulting with churches around the world. As founder of Church Leader Insights and the Renegade Pastors Network, he has personally trained more than 3,500 church leaders in over 45 denominations through live events, seminars and monthly coaching. Nelson is also the Founding and Lead Pastor of The Journey Church, with locations across New York City and in Boca Raton, FL. Nelson and his church routinely appear on lists such as “The 50 Most Influential Churches” and “The 25 Most Innovative Leaders.” He is the author of over 100 church growth resources and 18+ books, including The Renegade Pastor: Abandoning Average in Your Life, Ministry and The Difference Maker: Using Your Everyday Life for Eternal Impact, and At the Cross with the People Who Were There. He and his wife, Kelley, have one son, Alexander.

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