Most regular churchgoers disregard the simple visitor’s card tucked away behind church pews and seats. But for one Send Network church plant in Vancouver, Washington, these cards have proven to be the doorway to strong relationships and gospel conversations.
“Our church is deeply engaged in the community, even before the pandemic,” said Ryan Sidhom, pastor of River City Church. “Because of that, there’s a high concentration of non-Christians at our church, and more specifically ‘Nones,’ Buddhists, Wiccans and atheists.”
INTENTIONALITY IN SMALL DETAILS
As their church invested in the community and saw the population of non-Christian visitors grow, they knew they had to be strategic and intentional about every aspect of their Sunday gathering. Even something as simple as a visitor’s card had an instrumental purpose.
“We knew we had to be intentional with our visitor’s cards. Our return rate for our visitor’s card is 85%, and part of the reason is that we use our visitor’s cards as a way to give back to the community — a shared value between us and many of our non-Christian friends who visit our church,” Sidhom explained.
The card asks visitors to describe where they are on their spiritual journey by circling one of five options: not curious, curious, believer, disciple or disciple-maker. And at the bottom of the card, it explains that if they turn the card in, the church will donate to a local charity, and someone from the church would contact them to select the charity.
“I follow up with every visitor to figure out which non-profit they want to give to,” Sidhom said. “We give them six options of nonprofits we’re partnering with. Twenty-five percent of our visitors circle ‘curious,’ which is an automatic open door for me to engage in gospel conversation.”
When he calls, he asks more about their spiritual beliefs and journey and why they circled “curious.” After many of these conversations, he realized he needed a resource he could walk visitors through to help them find answers to what they were seeking. He wanted their decision to be informed, arriving at it with their own determination and conviction. So he wrote a book called Curious: Everything you need to make an informed decision about Jesus that walks through the Gospel of John.
“I ask them to read four pages of Curious a day for 10 weeks,” Sidhom said. “And at the end of every week, I meet up with them, buy them coffee and hear their thoughts and what they’re processing. By the end of the 10 weeks, they’ve read through the entire Gospel of John.”
As he finished Curious, he had several non-Christian friends proofread it.
“One friend of mine who isn’t a believer asked me about the book I was writing,” Sidhom said. “I told her it was about a man named Jesus, and a guy who lived during Jesus’ time and wrote down everything he saw Jesus do. I asked her if she would proofread the book for flow and understanding. She agreed, and since then, we’ve been reading and discussing the Gospel of John.”
FROM CURIOUS TO DISCPLE-MAKER
Curious is one book in a five-book series Sidhom is writing for his church. He is creating this series, in part, to help raise up and send out future planters who are Portland natives.
“Our church has a vision to plant 32 churches in 20 years,” he said. “Some of the church planters we raise up and send out will be Portland natives. If I’m sending out a Portland native in 10 years, where do you think he might be today? He’s likely curious.”
For this church, the visitor’s card isn’t the point, and it’s not a formality. In fact, it has no power in itself. It’s a means to an end to build relationships, dialogue about spiritual beliefs and sharing the good news of Jesus. In the end, Christ can use something as seemingly insignificant as a visitor’s card as a small tool to draw people to Himself.
Published April 19, 2021