Pastor Talbot Davis from Good Shepherd UMC in Charlotte recently shared on Facebook the top five elements of First-Time Guest Follow Up at his church. Since his is one of the largest, fastest growing UMCs in the nation, who better to give an account?

Here’s what he said:

Because we take our guests seriously at Good Shepherd, and we do what we can to ensure they come back.

Here’s our process:

1. Obtain Connection Cards — These days, getting people to fill out a Connection Card and then drop it in the Giving Basket is not as easy as it sounds. So I’ve taken to letting people know there’s a gift we want to get to them — promising an iPad or flat screen TV seems to work well — and we need their information in order to get it to them.

2. Mug. That’s right. All our first time guests (at least the ones who fill out the card) get mugged. As in a Good Shepherd coffee mug delivered to their door on Sunday afternoon by church volunteers. Back in the day, we’d send our volunteers out with maps. These days, of course, all people need as an address and they’re off. We instruct muggers: 1) to leave their car door open so the muggees will know it’s a brief visit; 2) not to enter the house; 3) to tell people thanks for coming to Good Shepherd & we hope you’ll come back; and 4) if no one is at home, leave the mug at the front door.

3. Hand Written Note. This is how I spend my Sunday evenings. It might seem like a drag after a day of preaching and LifeGroup leading, but I love it. How can I not? An opportunity to connect with new people and to do so in the lost medium of hand written communication? The great thing is that Chris Thayer does the same for our Zoar Road guests and Sammy Gonzalez for our Spanish speaking community.

4. Pray Over The Note. Yep. I place my palms on the note before placing the note in the envelope and pray the recipient really will feel God’s love through the communication.

5. Saturday Evening Phone Calls. All note recipients get a phone call at about 6 p.m. the next Saturday evening. I generally make the calls. It’s an opportunity for me to find out more about our guests and for them to do the same with me. And I frequently receive some life-giving feedback like the guy who told me recently that coming to Moss Road made him “feel whole for the first time in awhile.”

Talbot also told me that a prayer team meets at the church early on Sunday morning to do a prayer walk through the entire building touching and praying over each chair for the person who will occupy it that morning. It is pretty stunning to sit down in worship and hear that someone prayed for you that morning as the person God would lead to sit in that chair.

How does this compare with the way you respond to first-time guests?