By Jonathan Howe
We are routinely asked about the most effective ways to get guests to fill out communication cards or to turn them in. What if your church could get information on guests before they even set foot on campus? With an online registration form on your website, you can.
Whether you utilize this on a “Plan Your Visit” page, the home page, or the kids ministry page on your website, by offering an online guest registration form you are already ahead of the game when it comes to making a good first impression with a guest. Other than that, here are five reasons you should consider using online guest registration forms.
- It shows you expect guests. First and foremost, having an online guest registration form sends the message that you are expecting guests and want to be ready for them. This small detail communicates that your church is a guest-friendly one.
- Sunday mornings are typically hectic for parents. Online registration forms are great for all guests, but especially for those with kids. When my family visits a church for the first time, we dread the paperwork that comes with dropping our kids off in the nursery. We know we have to leave earlier than normal because of how long it will take. And we worry about how our kids will act while we fill out the information forms. Online registration allows parents to breathe easier and not dread the drop-off process. Parents will greatly appreciate the efficiency of an online guest registration form.
- You can prepare your volunteers. If you know to expect two or three extra guests in a toddler class, you can prepare those teachers for the extra kids. Volunteers are less likely to be stressed by larger-than-normal class numbers when they know what to expect ahead of time.
- It allows you to make an impression on kids and parents. On a positive note, knowing whom to expect allows volunteers to add a personal touch to their care. Imagine the impression a teacher can make on a hesitant child if they are able to greet them by name at first sight.
- You are more likely to receive accurate information. When a guest is unhurried to fill out a registration form, they’re more likely to fill it out completely and accurately. Also, handwriting issues are eliminated if forms are filled out electronically.
Does your church use online registration forms for guests? Have you ever visited a church that used them? Would you consider using them in your current church?
We use a “plan your visit” online registration option for people, and it has been really fruitful for us. It allows us to set the stage for a great experience before they come. Excellent post, Jonathan. Thanks for all you do.
Jeremy, thank you for you post. The idea of “Plan Your Visit” is a great idea. Would you mind sharing your website for me to explore? We are getting ready to plant/launch a new church in Kansas City and would like to explore what this looks for our First Impressions/Guest Services teams.
That’s great, Jeremy!
As a church secretary, I say this is a marvelous idea! While we are not at the point of eliminating handwritten cards (will we ever be?) available in the pews, if only a few people use this it would be worth it! Trying to read handwriting, written in pencil (ugh!) is sometimes downright impossible. Getting complete information is challenging, too. While we are not at the pre-register your kids for nursery and junior church, I could see that in the future. We are looking to completely redesign our web presence this fall and this would be worth adding!
Sounds great, Bonnie. Anything that can make a church secretary’s job easier is a good thing.
The moment when you read an awesome article that you’d love to implement in your own church and realize your fellow staff member has already commented on it. 🙂 Let’s do it, Bonnie!
So what does the online registration look like for guest? Are there some churches that are doing it really well that you could recommend?
Check out this link: http://thehighlands.cc/planyourvisit
Is there a particular way that you market this so that people who have never been to, or heard minimally of, your church body that they can be directed to the website to plan their visit?
What are some of the registration programs available, and do you have any recommendations? What do they cost?
Check with your ChMS provider. They might have something ready to use that fully integrated. Or use a Google Form (free), Contact Form 7 (free), or Gravity Forms (minimal cost).
The example from The Highlands is pretty legit!
Love this idea! We will be starting a website, and this will be a component.