It is essential to try to connect with guests during their visit and truly see coffee hour as a ministry opportunity. The next step is to have an action plan for follow-up. Research shows that following up with guests within two days of their visit significantly increases the likelihood that they will return to your parish. Here are some ideas to consider as part of your plan:
- Welcome Packet – instead of handing guests a packet on Sunday, some parishes mail them a 9×5 envelope filled with similar materials the week after their visit. The contents may include a cover letter or handwritten note, the current newsletter, introductory brochures about Orthodox Christianity and the parish, and fliers for upcoming events.
- Postcards – have a stack of postcards and postage ready to send to visitors on Monday morning, acknowledging their visit and inviting them to connect with the parish. You may consider offering some specific things to invite them to do, such as attend Bible Study, participate in an almsgiving activity or make an appointment to talk more with the priest. Make sure to include a handwritten note, even if the main text is pre-printed.
- Welcome E-mail – many guests leave an email, though not their street address. Have an email ready to send with content similar to that which would be on the postcard. Ask guests’ permission before subscribing them to the parish listserv.
- Phone Call – either the priest or a dedicated parishioner volunteer can start their Monday morning by calling all guests that offered a phone number in the guest book.