Church Visitor Cards: How to Connect & Follow Up

Church Visitor Cards: How to Connect & Follow Up

October 20, 2014 by

Church visitor cards: Check out the book Unwelcome: 50 Ways Churches Drive Away First-Time VisitorsWe’ve been talking a lot about how to welcome church visitors lately because we’re releasing a new book, Unwelcome: 50 Ways Churches Drive Away First-Time Guests by Jonathan Malm. Buy it now or check out a sample chapter.

Every church needs a way to welcome visitors and invite them to become involved. One of the most popular ways to accomplish this is the church visitor card.

Here are some best practices to make those church visitor cards more effective.

“A church visitor card is not a tax return, job application or customer survey.”

What Is a Church Visitor Card?

Church visitor cards were created to provide first-time guests with an opportunity to learn more about your church. Don’t assume visitors already know these cards exist or why. Take time to briefly explain the purpose of visitor cards during every worship service.

Remember that church visitor cards are also a way to keep members involved, too. They can be used to keep track of prayer concerns, worship attendance and volunteer opportunities.

Why Fill It Out?

What happens once guests fill out the church visitor card? What are they getting themselves into? People will be much more comfortable writing their personal information on a card if they know how it will be used.

  • Is a volunteer going to call tomorrow to thank them for visiting?
  • Are they going to be automatically added to the weekly email list?
  • Are you going to start mailing them fliers for the annual pledge campaign?

Give Visitors a Reason

Many churches offer a free gift to first-time guests who fill out a church visitor card. This is a good start because it recognizes that people’s time is valuable and provides them something of value in return.

However, most guests prefer to know what this gift is before taking the time to fill out a card. Is it a T-shirt, book or sticker? Make sure this is something of actual value to guests and not just some junk you are throwing at them in an insincere attempt to make them feel welcome.

“Too many churches challenge visitors to a race between the offering plate and filling out their visitor card.”

Give Them a Way to Fill It Out

Once visitor are willing to complete a card, they should be able to do so. That seems logical, but not all churches take the time to remove barriers and simplify the process.

Church visitor cards should be immediately and easily accessible. Hand them out as people enter, have a stack in each pew or place one near each seat. Guests should be able to fill them out during the service so they don’t forget to do so once the service is over.

Most importantly, provide people with writing utensils. Don’t assume anyone brought their own pen. It’s even better if a hard surface to write on is also available. Clipboards and books are easier to write on than laps and knees.

Easy to Fill Out

A church visitor card is not a tax return, job application or customer survey. Don’t ask so many detailed questions that people lose interest halfway through.

Ask a few basic questions about how to contact them—name, phone number, email. Inquire about their interests. Are they married? Do they have kids? Do they want to be contacted by the church?

It should take no longer than a few minutes to complete and shouldn’t require anything more complicated than remembering their ZIP code. (And you might not even need a ZIP code—Brady Shearer’s research shows that four form fields or less is best.)

How Do You Turn It In?

Turning in the church visitor card should be just as easy as filling it out. Having guests fill out a card does no one any good if guests don’t know how to turn it in. Pick a method of submitting the cards and make sure people understand it.

One of the best collection methods is to prompt guests to drop these cards in the offering plate. But give people enough forewarning before expecting them to be finished. Too many churches challenge visitors to a race between the offering plate and filling out their visitor card.

“You need a system in place to process church visitor cards and follow up with your visitors.”

Not Every Visitor Will Fill Out a Card

Ultimately, the best and most convenient church visitor card won’t get filled out if a guest simply isn’t interested in attending your church.

Don’t try to coerce anyone into filling out a card. Don’t ask them why they didn’t fill out a card. Respect them for their time and thank them for attending.

Remember that the purpose of a church visitor card is for us to provide an opportunity for the visitor to learn more about our church. It’s not just padding your mailing list. If someone has no interest in coming back, filling out the church visitor card might be a waste.

Church Visitor Card Follow Up

After the service you hopefully get a stack of these cards. Now what? You need a system in place to process church visitor cards and follow up with your visitors.

This is crucial. These are people interested in your church and asking for more info. You should have a standard process where you mail them a specific packet or send them an email thanking them for attending. Don’t just add them to your mailing list unless they asked you to.

And let’s be realistic: Some churches don’t get a stack of church visitor cards after every service. Those visitor cards might be as rare as winning lottery tickets. In these cases it’s easy to be slack with your follow-up process since you never have the opportunity to practice it. If that’s your church, this is all the more reason to have a process in place and ready. Visitors are rare and you can’t let them slip through the cracks.


Unwelcome Now Available


Photo by Holy Trinity Lutheran Church.
Post By:

Robert Carnes

Robert Carnes is the managing editor at the Orange Group and also serves as an assistant editor here at Church Marketing Sucks. He's the author of The Original Storyteller: Become a Better Storyteller in 30 Days. Previously, he worked in communications at two United Methodist churches in Metro Atlanta.
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3 Responses to “Church Visitor Cards: How to Connect & Follow Up”

  • Pastor Loh Nicodemus Markson
    June 2, 2015

    Sirs yours is the seminary i should have been attending since. As we prepare to launch any time soon i will be in your school with my small Nokia phone often . I am in Cameroon . Good bless your website

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  • Jay Jones
    January 9, 2016

    I know this is an older article, but I thought I’d share what we’re doing at our church. Instead of paper cards, we use a digital guest card system called and ask our guests to fill it out. When they submit their information, it immediately emails it to the church staff, saves it in a database, and even sends them their welcome email automatically. It helps prevent mis-read information, and illegible names/addresses, etc. Pretty cool!

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    • Paula Smith
      February 15, 2016

      Hi Jay,

      What ChMS system are you using? Does it work with Faith Metrics?

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