This is it!
All over the country, campus ministries are launching their ministry seasons through first-week outreach. They spend loads of hours and energy trying to meet new students that descend on their campuses during the first few weeks of class. Our ministry would spend months before hand prepping and praying for this first week of class.
I remember a few years ago being really excited about the number of students we had met and the amount of contact info that was exchanged. It was the most contacts we had ever gotten, and God was clearly on the move!
…it never really translated to significant growth in our ministry. Week after week of our mid-week gathering went by and we wondered where all of the students we had met had gone. We debated, scratched our heads, and came up empty for explanations.
We knew we had done the follow up with these contacts, but they never panned out. Then we started to ask about the quality of our follow up, and it was like someone switched a light on.
Maybe we hadn’t done as well as we had thought in following up with our list of contacts. We then started to define what good follow up looked like, and trained our leaders about how to do it.
Good follow up is Timely
The best follow up happens the same day. If we receive contact info from someone, our goal is to contact them that same day to invite them to something else we have going on, whether its a small group, social event, church, or to coffee. We found that during the first week of class students are more willing to respond to an invitation right away before they get busy with the rest of the semester. So take advantage of that time!
Good follow up is Personal
At our church, first-time visitors that give us their contact info receive an email from our lead pastor as a welcome and thank-you for coming to the church. While that’s (mostly) appreciated, we found that the most effective follow up is personalized from someone that actually made a connection with the contact. We instituted a rule that if you receive a contact card from someone, the leader or volunteer that received the card puts their own name on the back so they personally can follow up with that person. It makes that person feel more important, and like they aren’t just another number in a system.
Good follow up is Warm
The younger generations are experts at sniffing out when someone is merely going through the motions. It’s one of the things I love about my generation, but it’s also a double-edged sword. “Not being authentic” usually is the quickest way to shut down conversation with a millennial. So we coach our student leaders to be sincere when they follow up with someone. We want to communicate the love Christ has for them, even if it’s just by thanking them for stopping by our involvement fair table, checking out our tie-dye station, or just meeting them.
Good follow up is Pointed
While it is really good to be timely, personal, and warm in our follow up, we need to make sure to finish with an invitation. This is an exercise in trusting God’s provision for us; by inviting the most unlikely student to interact with us again, we are choosing to trust that Jesus’ words are true in Luke 10:2. Jesus says that the “harvest is plentiful, and the workers are few. So ask the Lord of the harvest to send more workers.” By inviting a student to anything, we are living into that promise from Jesus. We found that we need to make it easy for our students to invite by putting all of our events in one place.
What do you think? What makes up good follow up?