Visitors are untapped contacts in most congregations. It is inexcusable for visitors to walk in and walk out without a congregational plan to prospect them. Visitors are the hottest contacts and easiest prospects a congregation can possibly find. They can account for up to 50 percent of your annual conversions when the HTHSOE strategy is followed. For some reason, most congregations are still asking visitors to fill out an attendance card from the back of a pew to record their contact information. This 1950s approach does not work today, and it often results in missed opportunities.
HTHSOE has a potent visitor plan to focus on these precious souls. Congregations enrolled in HTHSOE learned how to treat visitors and create opportunities for Bible studies. It takes intentional effort, proper training, and attention to details. If you are not seeing results in this area, please use the following troubleshooting guide to find the problem and adjust.
- Have you appointed selected families to focus on visitors?
- Have you ensured these families are suitable for the task?
- Naturally friendly
- Good social skills
- Flexible (will sit where needed)
- Early to every assembly
- Do you wait for visitors to sit down before you approach them?
- Have you trained workers to know how to approach visitors and what to say?
- Sit in the pew in front, beside, or behind them.
- Always ask if the person/family is visiting from the community.
- No interrogations! Keep it casual and not nosy.
- Do you have a team of ladies assembling visitor bags?
- Do you give a bag as a gift to each local visitor/family?
- Do you have contact cards ready to fill out to record visitor information immediately following the gift?
- Do you immediately pass this information on to the preacher, an elder, or the church office so the contact can be added to the congregational contact list?
- Do you make sure every local visitor has a meal invitation?
- Are personal cards sent the same week to every local visitor?
Visitors do not require a knock on a door or any other outreach. They sit in our pews and are some of the ripest fruits in our local churches. Although useful, welcome wagons, foyer kiosks, and door greeters are not the whole (or best) answer. Every congregation should have trained members waiting for potential converts. “Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers, who have borne witness of your love before the church. If you send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God, you will do well” (3 John 1:5-6).
Northern Oaks church of Christ, San Antonio, Texas: We welcome my home congregation to the House to House/Heart to Heart School of Evangelism. It was surreal to return to the place where it all started, and where Mel Hutzler serves as the preacher and an elder. This congregation has made incredible advances over the past ten years and is ready to teach the gospel to the lost.
East Ridge church of Christ, Chattanooga, Tennessee: Charles Cochran (preacher) reports, “Hi bro. Rob. Hope all is well and your seminars are going good. We are continuing our efforts here. We sent a total of 337 compassion cards in September and October. Some are contacts from our door knocking efforts last month. We had a neighbor of one of our elders visit our worship services a couple weeks ago. We are following up on her. Our ladies Bible class on Tuesday nights has at least two ladies coming who are not members of the Church. We received an encouraging letter from a prisoner in Florida. He was given a copy of House to House/Heart to Heart. He requested sone Bible materials. He also wants to receive House to House. I sent him a Bible Correspondence Course. We receive Bible Correspondence Courses nearly every week. We had a Fall Festival on a Saturday in October. We had many visitors come. We met them and invited them to services. Many said we were so friendly. We knocked on doors in front of our building to invite them to come to the Fall Festival. We information about the Church to visitors who came. We keep sowing the Seed! God is good. We appreciate all you do bro. Whitacre. Give your family our love. Keep up the great work. You are a blessing.”
Warner Robins church of Christ, Georgia: Daniel Stearsman (preacher) reports, “God is at work and we are getting traction! Yesterday we kicked off presenting book 1, part 1 to the congregation. Visitors are coming and seeing the purity of connecting with God through the Bible. I must tip my hat to our elders. They are putting in the hours, working diligently behind the scenes with poise, persistence, and patience. The machine is moving, and they keep oiling the gears. We have hit the ground running. We are praying for our contacts. Visitation Team 2 met last night. Contacts, prospects, meals, and studies are going on. Visitors are sitting in the pews listening to Back to the Bible (BTTB). We emphasize their connection with God through the word. Two teenagers completed all three books of BTTB in two days with their grandma. A visitor says she has found her home. In addition, we had a baptism today! We welcome our new sister, Carol Murphy, into the body. These moments are some of my favorites in all of ministry (Philippians 1:27).”
Dave Domingue (elder) reports, “The excitement continues as the congregation was introduced to Back to the Bible lesson 1, our evangelism table cover arrived, our first Visitation Team met to write Compassion Cards, and our first New Mover’s Basket was delivered. Thus far, there are four on-going Bible studies, including one resulting from our recent door knocking event.”
University church of Christ, Montgomery, Alabama: Austin Faris (elder) reports,
1. “We are moving forward with the New Movers Ministry. Welcome buckets are being assembled so that we may visit the families that have just moved into the 36109 area.
2. “We are removing the printed material from the boxes, organizing the material so that we may access the printed material easily.
3. “We have a new card rack so that we can have easy access to all the cards.
4. “Tucker Presley, our youth minister, delivered an outstanding sermon this Sunday morning on Back to the Bible book two, part one.
5. “We understand that our youth minister invited his Pest Control man over for dinner. The gentleman is single and has talked frequently with Tucker and Haley about the Bible. A great relationship has been established with this gentleman. So when Tucker and Haley asked the pest control man over for dinner, he asked, ‘We are going to have a Bible study when I come over, aren’t we?’ Of course, Tucker said yes. They will start Back to the Bible, book one, this Friday night. Please pray for this effort.
6. “A former Faulkner football player and Faulkner graduate who attends our congregation has set up a Bible study with a fellow worker. Also pray for this effort.”
Oak Hill church of Christ, Covington, Georgia: Tate Sutton (preacher) reports, “We met and have established our card writing groups. We had two baptisms this weekend; one was a result of a Does It Matter study, and another was a product of a mother teaching her child. I will begin preaching this week about Jesus in John 4. We will be doing our bookmarks for our list of people of potential prospects. We have our group set up to take visitors out to eat.”
Coldwater church of Christ, Kentucky: Luke Puckett (preacher) reports, “This past Saturday we had our Thanksgiving giveaway. We had bags made with the church’s info on them, and they were filled with canned goods and boxed items for Thanksgiving. We also included a $15 Walmart gift card that can only be used for a turkey, ham, or produce. We gave out some 25 bags; from this effort, we got contact information with six of those saying they wanted to know more about the church. These six will be sent cards over the next couple weeks, and then members from the congregation will visit and invite them to services personally. We have one goal from this giveaway and that is to set up Bible studies.
“I finished book 2 PowerPoint on Sunday, and we will begin book 3 next week. One of our deacons is starting book 2 with someone who visited us this past Sunday. We are praying book 3 will be successful. This week, we sent cards to six prospects. One of those is 43-years-old, and he found out he has cancer. I visited him and his wife last week, and I am going back this week. I am building a relationship with them, and it seems promising that we will start a Bible study soon with them.”
Chase Park church of Christ, Huntsville, AL: Pat Cowden (preacher) reports, “We had several visitors from the community this past week, and one of them is very interested in learning more about the Bible. We will begin a Bible study with him this week, Lord willing. We deliver New Movers baskets to two more homes. Several folks have received Compassion Cards, and we have had some positive feedback from those on our prospect list. We had one study last week, and we are most of the way through with that study. The prospect we are nearest the end of our study with has had two grandparents pass away in the last two weeks and was unable to meet for our scheduled study, but he was here for both services and Bible study on Sunday. We are pressing forward with confidence that God will see a good work through to the end, and we are praying that these studies result in people obeying the gospel. One of our newer converts taught the New Convert class a week ago and did a fantastic job. We are so proud of him and his growth and evangelistic zeal!”
Beattie Road church of Christ, New Albany, Georgia: Charles Harris (preacher) reports, “Terri Ann Horton met us after reading our weekly articles in the local newspaper. We met at the church building Wednesday and studied Does It Matter? She appreciated the authority of the Scriptures section and the fact that we are to worship as God’s Word directs. The sections on the organization and name of the church made an impact upon her as well. She realized her Catholic baptism was wrong immediately and knows she needs to be baptized scripturally. Please pray for her, as she does not have the best living situation.”
Peninsula church of Christ, Hampton, Virginia: Ben Phillips reports, “This past Saturday we went door knocking again in our community where we made 13 new contacts (out of about 120 doors!) and followed up with previous contacts. One of our follow-up contacts has asked us to come back and visit again. This is encouraging to us as we have been praying for these opportunities. We have also started sending cards to members we have not seen in a while. Over the last few Sundays, two of these members have been present for morning worship again.
We have three ongoing Bible studies in the congregation and are praying for these to be willing to obey the gospel. Our classes, announcements, prayers, works, and conversations all reflect a tremendous cultural shift since the evangelism seminar in September. We are continuing to put in place all of the pieces and trusting that God will bless the work to His glory.”
Deerfoot church of Christ, Birmingham, Alabama: Richard Harp (preacher) reports, “Donna Evans is set to begin a Bible study with her son and daughter-in-law and has almost completed the study with another daughter-in-law. Please pray for her efforts. Richard will begin a Bible study on Saturday with a young couple (Devin and Amber). Please pray for this effort as this is a huge opportunity. Richard is also trying to begin the third book, but his new job caused a change in schedule. We also interviewed a potential outreach minister on Sunday to help us facilitate further evangelism. Joe Hanson has not missed a service and has continued to question and grow. His continued study has been inspirational.”
Corinth church of Christ, Tennessee: James Parker (elder) reports, “We have had two families visiting the last couple of weeks. Cards have been sent to those two families! They have been there the last three weeks. We lost one of our faithful members at Corinth. Bonnie Ausbrooks had been sick for a few years, but in the last few months became very seriously ill. She departed this life on Wednesday. We had her memorial service Saturday and then fed the family at the building at Corinth. A week ago Saturday, I performed a wedding for a couple, and I will visit them this week.”
North Jefferson church of Christ, Mt. Pleasant, Texas: Kris Groda (preacher) reports, “We have four ongoing Bible studies. Sister Tia said, ‘I have just got Angelique in book 1 of Believe the Bible. I have not gotten Debbie to commit to another study yet. Angelique seems much more interested than Heavenly and Lanessa, so far. Derrick talked about baptism finally—I see a study in his future soon. I am hoping he and Davin will bond and do that.’ Please keep these studies in your prayers.”
Siwell Roach church of Christ, Mississippi: Derek Broome (associate preacher) reports, “Things have been going great the past few weeks. We have been reaching out to a lot of new contacts. Several people in the congregation have made a strong effort lately to reach the lost through personal contacts, benevolence, and our card ministry. We have some Bible studies that are continuing right now, and we have some new studies set up. This week we will be delivering our November New Movers Baskets. We are looking and praying for open doors.”
Jacksonville church of Christ, Alabama: Keith Ritchie (preacher) reports, “I am supposed to have at least one study this week at an assisted living facility with a visitor. Another Bible study has been set up with a bringer (Zach Glenn), but no date on that one yet. One of our new converts, Robin, has been putting New Movers baskets together. Robin said this was his domain. He loves putting these together. Clarene Dinkins is doing a wonderful job with the visitor bags. I will send pics when the Bible studies take place.”
Coweta church of Christ, Oklahoma: Keno Shrum (preacher/elder) reports, “We put together New Movers baskets and will hand them out on Saturday. Tomorrow evening Jamie and I are having dinner with a couple, and we hope to get a Bible study. They started attending a few weeks ago at our congregation but have limited knowledge of the church. It is our prayer that they will respond to a Bible study. I will let you know next week how it goes with the New Movers baskets!”
Riverbend church of Christ, Georgia: Austin Fowler (member) reports, “Last Sunday, we handed out the bookmarks and got our members to fill them out. Sunday night, we had a sermon on how to reach the lost and reviewed HTHSOE strategies to help us reach those on our bookmark. We are really working on step 4 (promote) and step 5 (produce) of the congregation plan.”
East Homer church of Christ, Alaska: Steve Canon (member) reports, “We had a guest speaker today named Tony Cloud who provided three really good lessons. We are finalizing the gift baskets for House to House and will be delivering them this week.”
Smithville church of Christ, Tennessee: Andrew Wynne (preacher) reports, “I hope all is well with y’all. I wanted to share some good news that happened this morning. One of the elders and I made a visit to one of his friends he has known for some time. She is 86 and a Baptist. After we talked and visited for a little while, the elder asked her if she would be interested in a Bible study with us. She agreed! We are planning on going back a week from today in the morning hours. PLEASE be praying for this study. She seems very open and we are hopeful this will be a conversion. Her name is Mary Bradshaw.”