My best friend, when church hunting, was surprised to find that the preacher called very soon after his family’s visit. Some of those leaflets stuck inside the pew holder can indicate “Visit Desired” or something to that effect. But mostly these slips of paper or cardstock succumb to the onslaught of toddlers’ crayons, the crumpled results of mistaken identity (mistakenly identified for some hymnal or other) or because of years of being ignored and stressed by various bodies resting against pew backs.
Can anything save the waning age of the guest register, a register that so often stands in the back of the church in the opposite direction of the way to the fellowship hall, to which congregational conclave visitors are eagerly pressed by well-meaning congregants? Probably not, but you can, for the time being, before your guest register rides off into the sunset never to be seen again, like the All-American cowboy, stave off this unhappy departure and make it more useful in the interim.
How can you do this? You can do so by purchasing a new guest register (one that doesn’t sadly show how few visitors have visited – or rather taken the time to sign [not quite the same thing] – the guest register since 1984.) Can the home visit ever go out of fashion? Not completely. It is always sophisticated when done well. Can the note thanking a visitor for gracing your church go out of fashion? Never! But you can, as the business world says, “increase your email capture” with the new (2011) Guest Register from Franklin X. McCormick, Inc. out of Milwaukee.
Not only is it noticeably different – and thus more likely to draw the “church shopper’s” eye, the shopper who has been so used to seeing the same register time and again - it is new, period. So many guest registers have been worn out from years of use, or lack thereof. I highly recommend this gold-lettered edition, complete with scripture verses at the bottom and the email slot clearly marked before the address line. Why? This is because so many will more likely share an email address, while remaining concerned about an address, not least of which because it might lead to a visit. Of course, if they should like a visit or wouldn’t mind one, they can always share their address. At least it shows that a church is aware that the internet age is upon us, whether that is to our pleasure or woe. Is it the answer to all church outreach issues? No. But evangelism is all about the little things.
While you’re at it, it is always nice to make sure that the pen is of a dignified make, such as one sees at the guest register at the funeral home. And, when somebody inevitably steals that pen to write a lovely check with, replace it with yet another dignified make and model. Furthermore, have you thought of how wonderful it is if you have the email address? It means that you can keep that potential parishioner/congregant “in the loop” on various matters. You can send him a lovely pdf version of your newsletter (which, incidentally, you can send to a great deal of parishioners and save on stamp and paper and ink). Yes, I think that this leads to a lot of good things.
You may see the reviewed guest register here.