For decades, churches have passed around a sign-in book to take attendance and collect contact information from their guests. If you’re one of those churches, you may have wondered whether there is a better method for getting this information. There is. But first, here are three reasons you should ditch your church sign-in book in favor of a more effective alternative (which we’ll discuss in part two of this series).
Why You Should Ditch the Church Sign-In Book
1. People Forget to Pass it Around
This one is pretty obvious, right? Your regulars may simply forget to pass the sign-in book to the person next to them, or they may give up trying to pass it if there’s a large gap between people. Your guests may fill out their information but fail to realize it needs to be passed on to someone else, or they may not know who to give it to next. Also, if the sign-in book isn’t mentioned during your in-service announcements, guests may not have any idea what to do with it. One mystery guest told us:
“There was a sign-in book to be filled out at the end of the pews. I opened it but was unsure what to put in it. I assumed that at some point during the service if I was asked to write my name in it, I would. There was no reference to the book at any time during the service, so I didn’t sign it.”
In all these cases, you’re failing to do the one thing the guest book is meant to do: connect with your visitors in a meaningful way.
2. Everyone can See the Guests’ Contact Info
Many guests skip filling out a sign-in book that gets passed around the entire church because they don’t want everyone to have access to their personal information. Privacy is important for many people and they don’t want to openly share their phone number, email, or home address with the whole congregation. These visitors may only fill out their name, or may skip it entirely, leaving you without any means of connecting with them.
3. Collect Limited Information
We recently had a mystery guest that wanted to leave his contact information with a church he visited but was unable to. He told us,
“I didn’t notice a visitor sign-in book until I was leaving the church. I did sign my name but there was no place to leave any contact information.”
A guest book severely limits the amount of information you can collect. You may only have space to get their name, phone number, and email address, plus a couple other details. What you really need to know, besides their basic contact information, is what interests them about your church. Maybe they want to learn more about your youth ministry or want to participate in a Bible study. Some may be newcomers to the faith and want to learn more about what it means to be a Christian. Without that information, you have no way of knowing what your visitors need from you.
The goal is meaningful connection beyond your Sunday worship, and a church sign-in book severely hinders your ability to do just that. Instead of a guest book, we recommend connection cards. Connection cards more accurately describe the reason you want to collect visitors’ information and has more positive connotations than a “sign-in book” because it indicates a chance to actually connect with the church rather than just writing your name in a book. In the second part of this two-part series, we’ll explore how a connection card can help you connect with guests in more meaningful ways.
At Faith Perceptions, one of the things our mystery guests evaluate when they attend a church is how guest information is collected and whether or not the church ever follows up with them. Our church mystery guest program can help you discover the effectiveness of your sign-in book, among other aspects of your service, such as parking, greeting, and more. If you’re ready to gain an outside, unbiased perspective to pinpoint areas of improvement, contact us today.