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Ten ideas for visitation

Visitation is a key ingredient to church growth. However, effective visitation is determined to a great extent by the local culture. What will work in an urban area may not work in a rural area. Visitation means making regular caring contact with regular attendees, adherents, and prospects.

Some research shows that 76 percent of the churches that have an active visitation ministry are growing. Ninety-eight percent of churches that maintain and work an active list of prospects are growing.1

In the Church Growth Spiral, visitation is vital to building a strong church. Each week a church should be contacting at least 50 percent of its enrollment figure. If it has 100 people enrolled, each week it should be making contact with at least 50 people. Of these 20 percent (or 10 people) should be new prospects.

The following list of visitation ideas can help you to plan and implement a visitation ministry:

1. Care Group Leaders
Divide classes into groups of four to six people with a care group leader for each group. The leader makes a different type of contact with each person in his group every week. The first week, he can mail a card, note, or letter. The second week, he can make a phone contact. The third week, he can make a personal contact. The fourth week, he specifically prays for and encourages the members of the group.

A variation of this is to ask each group to identify and actively seek to enroll unchurched friends, neighbors, and relatives.

2. Love PATS
Each person has gifts and abilities. Some do not feel comfortable making outreach visits or doing weekly visitation. Still, we can provide different opportunities for people to be involved. Love PATS (Prayer, Absentees, Telephone, Soul-winning visits) is one way to do this.

Some people are great prayer intercessors. They can pray for those who are visiting and being visited. Other class members are uncomfortable visiting people they don't know, but they will call on ones they know. These people can be enlisted to make contact with the absentees each week.

Some people will be good at making telephone contacts. Enlist them to call absentees, newcomers, and prospects. They can follow-up on contacts someone else has made.

Members who have been trained and enjoy sharing the gospel usually enjoy sharing their faith and generally see results from their efforts. They can visit with those who are seeking to know more about spiritual matters or about the church.

3. PIE Night
Fellowship and refreshments seem to go together. PIE (People In Evangelism) is a fun way to reach prospects and encourage visitation. You can use either of two approaches. You can deliver a special dessert to each prospective member and family and invite them to your church or special event. The Sunday School classes can take turns providing the desserts each month.

The other approach is to have your visitation team work on the same night. Afterward, take time to fellowship around refreshments and share visitation reports and victories. Conclude with prayer for each person visited and for others on the prospect list.

4. Bakers for Men
This is a good method for following up on guests. Enlist people to make cookies or desserts for guests. Then deliver the baked goods to the guests at their homes. Thank them for attending the church, give them additional information about the church, and build a friendship bridge with them.

5. Grow
This plan involves each class member in visitation once every 4 weeks. Divide your class or Sunday School into four teams: Green, Red, Orange, and White. The first week, the Green team makes the contacts with members, adherents, absentees, and prospects. The second week the Red team does this, and so forth.

This method involves everyone and ensures that visitation is being done each week. A variation is to promote a contest to see which team can enroll the most people or increase attendance by personal visitation and invitation to prospects.

6. Designated Visitor
Each class enlists a different person(s) to make the contacts and visits each week. The class evangelism coordinator can spearhead this. The names of absentees, guests, and prospects are assigned to them for contact. A variation is to enlist three people each week. One person makes contacts with absentees only. A second person follows up on guests, and a third contacts prospects.

7. Sunday Morning Volunteer
The evangelism coordinator keeps an active list of prospects. Every Sunday morning he lists two or three names on a Prospect Assignment Card, asks for volunteers to contact the persons listed on the card. They later return the card with a written report of the visit.

8. Literature Visit
Enlist a group of volunteers to canvass a neighborhood and distribute door hangers and information about the church and its ministries. This is a great way to make contact with your prospect list a week or two before the beginning of a new quarter or series of lessons. Order extra materials, and deliver them to each home to encourage involvement in Bible study.

Have literature available for every age group. It is also a good idea to include needs-centered pieces that address current issues.

9. Family Fellowship Groups
Ask people to volunteer for a once-a-month fellowship. This can follow an evening service or be done at some other convenient time. Each group consists of 6 to 12 persons. The group is to invite unchurched friends, relatives, and neighbors so your members can establish friendships outside the church setting. Provide appropriate activities and a comfortable environment.

10. Visitation Blitz
The idea is to contact a large number of people in a short time. Involve as many members as possible to make a one-time visit to prospects and members. Offer breakfast on a Saturday morning, and spend the morning making visits. Afterward assemble to give reports and pray for the harvest.


1 C. Kirk Hadaway. Church Growth Principles, Fact or Fiction; Broadman: Nashville, 1991.

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