Focusing on Follow Up

Follow-up can feel like an inconvenience to ministry but it is not. I recently went for a routine eye exam and the doctor suggested I “follow-up” with another doctor regarding some issues she found. My first thought was, “more time spent at another office when I have other things to do.” However, if there are issues generally, it’s always beneficial to follow up on what the specifics may be. In many ways, that’s what follow-up in the church is like–following up on guests and contacts to get a more specific grasp on how you can best minister to them.

Like many, I have struggled to practice and lead in follow up but am convinced it is a necessary element. I believe many would agree that we unintentionally separate evangelism and discipleship at our own peril. Read what Waylon Moore stated about evangelism, discipleship, and how follow-up is a necessary means in these things:

  • “Follow-up is the conservation, maturation, and multiplication of the fruit of evangelism”
  • “Scriptural evangelism and follow-up are God’s means for keeping, developing, and multiplying the church membership”
  • “Evangelism and Follow-up are the two rails of a train track; a break in either stops forward progress. Like the sowing, watering, and reaping of evangelism, follow-up takes time; it is not an act, but a process. There is no quick way to spiritual maturity and Christlikeness”

I can not, and dare not, improve on these. Among other things, we see that follow-up really is necessary if we are are to capitalize on any outreach effort we undertake within the local church. This would include, but is not limited to things like Door-to-Door outreach, VBS, or special Evangelistic Harvest events.

So…what are some simple, practical areas to consider as you launch out into a follow up strategy for your church’s outreach effort? Let’s consider these:

  1. Organize a “Follow Up” team.

    Who in your previous outreach was a critical part? Who has some of the organizational gifts that could serve well? Who can you recruit that typically isn’t involved in more of the “cold call” kinds of evangelism? Don’t overthink who could be involved, just seek to organize this work like you do many other things, including evangelism outreaches, VBS’s, or Fall Festivals. Consider putting out a sign-up sheet and give folks a few weeks to respond. Promote the next steps accordingly from the platform or pulpit. The ice has been broken by an initial contact, and for some in the church, they may feel more comfortable to take the next steps in conversations. Many involved in follow-up, may not have been on the initial outreach team.

  2. Empower this team–Keep the momentum.

    For a lot of pastors, they will serve on the follow-up team…and probably lead this team! If so, amen!…lead on! Either way, empower your people to use their gifts to divide and conquer. Follow up will be an ongoing “work in progress” strategy until the Lord Jesus comes again. Herein is one aspect that is exciting about the Kentucky Baptist Convention Gospel to Every Home initiative. It has jumpstarted an evangelism strategy that will lead to an evangelistic culture. You don’t have to create anything at this point…because you’ve already gone. KEEP THE MOMENTUM! However, you must build and empower this team. Use letter writing, text messaging, phone calling, and personal visits as a part of this empowerment. Think about the culture and context of your people and empower them. For some churches, meeting in a room together works well. For others, they will respond best by receiving instructions and giving them a timeframe to complete during the week in a timeframe that works best for them. Having the freedom to do the work whenever is most convenient in the week works best for them. I’ve served three congregations and each is beautifully unique. This leads us to the next point:

  3. Provide appropriate resources.

    A simple follow up form to track progress is imperative. You can go hard copy or something electronic. You will also need to make sure you provide simplistic and clear church information; things like service times, address, and any website or social media outlets. You will find it beneficial to collect various discipleship resources to give out or in fact meet with some of those you are following up with. Follow up is more methodical and calculated. Who have you visited that you may actually meet at their home and do a short bible study with? Who could you disciple that is perhaps saved just unchurched? Who could you encourage by providing them some means to grow in the Christian walk. Ask the Lord to give you some folks that are willing to perhaps form a group within reach of your church with the purpose of discipling them.

  4. Calculate your follow-ups.

    A. Salvations: Who got saved during your evangelistic outreach? Now is the time to follow up with them. Among discipling and assimilating them into a local church, as an initial part of your follow up with them, challenge them to seek to win someone they know to Christ. Teach them how to share their testimony (before Christ, how they met Christ, and their life now as a Christian) and then to go share it with a family member or friend. Multiplication doesn’t need to wait 6 months…DO IT NOW! Those that were saved need an immediate follow up.

    B. Unchurched: Undoubtedly you met many unchurched during your outreach, or discovered within your event. These precious folks need the next level of attention. Re-visit them and ask where they are in their church search? What are some challenges they are having? How can you alleviate these challenges? Chances are they need someone to listen to them. You’re that person; you’re that church. This follow up visit is the next level beyond that first touch. Walk them down the road a little farther now.

    C. Special Prayer Request: Chances are you prayed for a lot of people during your outreach. You heard about a lot of needs. You are probably still praying for that one prayer request you heard about and the Lord will not let it slip away from your mind or heart. These follow up visits mean the world to folks–it shows you/church cares for them. Following up with them gives your church a community presence like few other things do. It is personable. It is compassionate. It is thoughtful. It sounds an awful lot like what Jesus would do! These visits give us an opportunity to pull the church outside of the four walls like few other things can. ALSO, these kinds of follow up visits are perfect for those that are a little more introverted perhaps. A relationship has already been started. These folks will remember you came by and talked with them. While the pressure is not completely gone, it is less.

    D. Notable Conversations: This is broadly defined, but there were probably some notable conversations that you had with folks, at length, in your initial visit or outreach. Was it about religion? Was it about a hobby that you shared? Was it about the strangest thing you have ever heard? We’ve all had them, and interestingly enough, most of those conversations were strangely interesting! Following up on these visits gives you another opportunity to connect and the Gospel another opportunity to be shared or clarified more. We are simply casting seeds–God is watering them. What has He watered since your first initial visit? You may not know, unless you go back.

    E. REPEAT! At some level an evangelistic culture is developed when the people begin to understand that you’ll never finish. Our work isn’t finished until Jesus Christ comes back or we draw our final breath. As long as their are lost people in our communities, we are the search and rescue team. No search and rescue team is worth a single penny that shows up for one day…and then never returns again. We have people to reach and follow-up within our ministry is the perpetual ministry that the church embraces.

  5. Time Factor

    One of the more common questions I’ve received is this: “How long should we wait between visits?” I don’t really have a clear-cut answer. Generally one needs to (1) consider the specific contact and decision and (2) seek clarity from the Holy Spirit. Those spiritual conversations where someone is lost and is very interested, yet does not receive Christ on the initial visit, should initiate follow up ASAP. Other follow up, like special prayer request, could be as you’re around their home or within a few months of time. Most prayer request have an answer at some point. The time between visits is hard to inform. I guess one question to ask yourself when thinking about certain areas to re-visit or people to follow up with is, “Can I get them out of my mind and off my heart?” If the Lord is continually placing a certain contact on your heart…go see them!

  6. Database

    Maintain a database of all your potential follow up’s and how they went. Of course in the world we live in now electronically based systems are best because you can search for things within a seconds time. Simple and free options like Google Sheets is an example. Set it up, share it with those necessary, and keep it updated as you go. The main thing is to think forward. Consider where you will be in 6 months or 1 year. Though some have a memory like a bear trap, most of us shouldn’t trust our memory! Record the who, what, when, where, and how of your community and this will greatly help the years of ministry. PLUS, it gives you a reason to celebrate the progress you’ve made and the contacts discovered!


    This is a common refrain for most things in ministry and life…and it’s certainly true for evangelism in the church. Ride the wave of momentum in any evangelistic effort you undertake by incorporating intentional follow up…and persevere. It’s a marathon which means the race is not done by sprinting, but really, by plodding. Think long-term…and know God is working on all those seeds you have scattered. How will you ever know what is really happening if you don’t revisit the field to check on the crop?

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