How To Connect with Visitors using Planning Center Online

April 18, 2022

Guest Post from PCO Guru: Well, you made it. It’s the week after Easter, and God did INCREDIBLE things as we celebrated the victory of Jesus last Sunday! We also likely had A LOT of new faces come around. If you’re anything like me, then there’s only one question on your mind: HOW DO WE GET THESE FOLKS CONNECTED?!? Fortunately for you, you’re using Planning Center - a powerhouse of a ChMS that gives you all the tools you need to not just get these new Easter people connected but will help you to create systems to keep this up all year long. A key tool we’ll be talking about today are Workflows - which are essentially PROCESSES. More specifically, they are typically a DIGITAL representation of a PHYSICAL process you’re already doing! I want to give you 3 practical things you can do TODAY to sure up your ability to get people connected at your church using a Workflow.

  1. Welcome, then Invite

Whether they filed out a Connection Card (paper or a Form you created), you want to make sure each and every person feels welcomed. While you can automate this step in a lot of different ways, I think the best way to do this is person-to-person.

At our church, we feed ANY new people (New Parents Checking-in Kids, New Connection Cards, etc) into a Workflow called “New to (ENTER CHURCH NAME HERE)”. The very first step of this Workflow has our main admin as the default assignee. She understands that her job isn’t to carry out the first step, but rather to assign the right pastor/staff member to follow up with them.

From there, the beginning of this process is a two-step combo: First, we send them a handwritten note; Then, we call/text/email them letting them know we’d love to connect with them next Sunday. I know what you’re thinking - a HANDWRITTEN note for every new person? Yep, and it’s definitely work for the staff, but it’s worth it. It shows the individual that we see them and are excited about them being around.

The 2nd step - Making Contact - is snoozed a few days to allow delivery of the note, and is coupled with a VERY important addition - Record Interaction. We want our staff making notes on their conversations so that the whole team can use that information (appropriately as privacy is a priority) to better connect with these folks. I call this turning Individual Information into Organizational Knowledge - you leverage a single conversation into great information for the staff to better understand these folks.

Finally, once they feel welcome, our next step is to Invite them to whatever is next for them. We have a saying around our church - “Don’t say someone’s NO for them!”. Essentially, don’t assume someone wouldn’t want to jump in - ask them to come along with you. Make them feel welcomed, and then invite them into what’s next.

Speaking of what’s next . . .

  1. Give Them Next Steps

We should always be thinking and helping our people to be thinking about what is next. When people don’t see a clear way forward (and this is true for anything - work, teams, etc) they tend to just get stuck.

There is a certain momentum that comes from novelty or something being new. We want to capitalize on that innate momentum and help propel our people forward into what God has next for them.

When we coach our teams, we say it like this - you should go into EVERY conversation with an expectation of what’s next for that person. You don’t need to know everything, but you and your team should be equipped to think through how the church is ready to help our people take steps of faith!

Maybe they’re new in their faith and need to ask more questions - invite them to the New Believers class. Maybe they want more information about joining the church - ask them to join you at the next Membership gathering. Maybe they are ready to get baptized or to join a group - no matter what that next step is, you should know HOW to keep them moving in the right direction.

BONUS TIP - You should have a workflow for EACH of these Next Steps, including:

  1. Follow Up on Their Activity

Once people take a step, we can’t just leave them there. While they will have others they will connect with in the various areas they jump into, we don’t want to just assume that they kept up with everything on their own.

I don’t know about your people, but our folks can easily get distracted or lose steam when transitioning to another process. That’s why I think the most important step of this initial workflow is the last one: FOLLOW UP!

That’s right, and I know it sounds simple. However, if we don’t check in and follow up with our folks, then we’re not doing all we can to help these people take steps towards getting connected at our church.

This may sound like a TON of work, but I wanna give you the shortcut to seeing how people have taken steps at our church - otherwise referred to as their activity. Before you follow up with someone you want to check these areas, in order:

  1. Workflow Tab on their Profile - Go to their profile and select the Workflow tab on the left side of the profile. From there, you’ll see any workflow they are in, have been in, or have been removed from. You don’t even need to go into their workflow cards, as you can see what step their on and how long they’ve been in the workflow.
  2. Activity Tab on their Profile - Go to their profile and select the Activity tab on the left side of the profile. From there, you’ll see any of their activity across PCO that you have access to. You can see when they’ve checked their kids into Check-Ins, when they’ve joined a Group or team in Services, anything across PCO. This is the secret sauce to see if they’ve done anything since you’ve last chatted with them.
  3. Notes Tab on their Profile - Go to their profile and select the Notes tab on the left side of the profile. From there, you’ll see any notes that have been created on their profile. This is why it’s SO important to train your team to use the Notes as a central point to organize the engagements we have with individuals - again, with privacy being the most important factor. This information will help give context to any of their other activity.

Armed with that information, you’ll be able to have a conversation with them where they feel like you’re familiar with them, rather than some random staff member. This will lead you to have higher quality interactions with people to help them continue towards steps of growth at your church.

To give you a framework to copy, here’s the basic outline of our “New to CHURCH” Workflow that you can build out today:

Step 1: Send Handwritten Note

Step 2: Make Contact (Text, Call, Email) & Record Interaction [3 Day Snooze]

Step 3: Invite to . . . [1 Week Snooze]

Step 4: Follow Up [2 Week Snooze]

If you have any questions about how to help people at your church get connected using PCO, head over to PCOGuru’s FB page (https://www.facebook.com/pcoguru) and leave a comment. You can also check out Planning Center’s Facebook Page - Planning Center Community - as a great source of community and information.

Finally, if you could use help transitioning to, optimizing, or training your staff on PCO, we’d love to help you at PCOGuru! Head over to PCOGuru.com and get more information with a 100% free consultation to learn more about how we can help you. Mention this post and get 10% your project through the end of May 2022!

Chris Denning | Chief Guru