A young family is new in town and they found your Easter Mass times online. When Easter morning comes around, they arrive at your doors and are greeted warmly by your hospitality team. They look around to see the flowers and decorations. They are inspired by the music and dynamic homily. They’re moved by the joyful reverence of the liturgy. The family wants to become parishioners. Are you ready?
If someone has decided to become a new member of your parish family and is ready to sign up now, what will the registration experience be like? Is your form easy to find, easy to access, and available in multiple locations 24/7? With an influx of new visitors in a few short weeks, it might be time to reassess your new parishioner registration from. Here are a few ideas to remove any barriers to completion.
1. Make it easy to find on your website.
Use a callout like “I’m New” or “Become a Parishioner” or “Join Now” page on your home page ideally in the menu bar or near the top of the home page. This is where someone can gather information about Mass times, children’s programs, parking, becoming Catholic, procedures for Mass, joining a ministry, serving opportunities, plus any additional information you would want a visitor to know about. Your website becomes the 24/7 resource providing families information about your parish community and an easy place to register when it is convenient.
2. Keep it short and simple.
If you are like most parishes, you likely have a large form someone is required to complete to become a member. Have you ever been on a website where you began filling out a form that seemed endless, then decided to click that red X in the upper corner of your screen because they seemed to want too much information? Keep it simple by only requiring the most basic information to get people involved in your parish family. Five questions will provide enough information for your office staff to start the registration process: first name, last name, phone number, email, are you baptized/Catholic (yes, no, unsure). That should five enough information for a parish staff member to follow up.
3. Embed the form on your website page.
Note that an online form that is embedded on your website page is a much better way to welcome a new parishioner than asking them to download a PDF, print the PDF, fill out the paper copy, mail or scan in the paper copy, then send to the church in an envelope or email. An embedded form on your website page eliminates the multi-step process from a PDF form, providing a simpler, more convenient process for registration.
4. Create a mobile-friendly form.
In today’s world, the smartphone is becoming the online device of choice. Creating a mobile-friendly registration form provides yet another convenient option for people to register when and where it’s convenient for them.
5. Take it to social media.
Add your “Become a Parishioner” website link to all your social media channels, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. By providing additional choices for potential new members to find your website, you will widen your audience and reach in your community.
6. Tell them what to expect.
Make sure you let people know when they can expect to hear back from you by adding a statement below the form. For example, “Someone from the church will contact you within the next three days to schedule an appointment so Father can personally welcome you to our parish family.” This ensures no one will have to wonder when and who will be contacting them after submitting the form. It’s important to set clear guidelines for your staff to follow up within the promised timeframe.
7. Provide contact options.
Since most people are looking for choices, always provide at least one alternative way to contact the church to register as a parishioner. You can add a “Contact us” link below the form that goes to your website contact page featuring your parish office hours, phone number, and email.
This Easter season, be prepared to grow your parish family! Welcome new visitors from the pulpit, and make sure to inform people of the easy, convenient registration from if they are interested in joining the parish. With online parishioner registration, you are eliminating the hurdles to having to print a form, bring it to the office when it’s open, and maybe even an uneasy feeling of having to admit it’s been a long time since they belonged to a church. Make it easy to welcome more parishioners into your community.