If you haven't already done so, make sure to check out our 5 Keys to Successful Explorer Interactions! But if you're hungry for more tips and best practices we've picked up along the way, this article is the one for you.
Explorers are often wanting to connect with someone who cares and will walk with them through a particular need or topic. We want you to be prepared and confident in making this connection through text messaging. There are nuances to this form of communication that can easily turn the Explorer off from wanting to continue the conversation. Using the best practices below will provide you and your team the greatest opportunity to successfully connect with each Explorer.
Many Explorers responding to these ads often express a felt need. Common topics are: anxiety and fears; stress and depression; relationship challenges, including marriage, dating, children, family and friends; some folks are struggling with finances and unemployment. They want to talk about the current situation they are going through and often they don’t have anyone else to turn to. Sometimes they ask for prayer, oftentimes not. Because of the nature of the He Gets Us ads, you might also receive a connection from an Explorer that is curious or skeptical towards the message of Jesus. Please take your responsibility to these individuals seriously and treat them as you would others seeking assistance or walking into the front door of your church.
Note: In order to help help you interact well with Explorers on topics revolving around mental health, the American Association of Christian Counselors has graciously put together some resources. Check them out in the AACC Hub of your Discover tab!
The goal is simple: create a connection and start a conversation. How well you start that conversation will determine whether the conversation continues. Starting the conversation well–about the Explorer and their need–will help them feel like you’re addressing their need and build trust in the connection you’ve just made.
The following best practices will help guide you no matter what topic the Explorer begins the conversation with.
It’s About the Explorer!
Specifically mentioning Gloo, a campaign, scripture, or your church takes the conversation away from the Explorer and the reason they were connected with you. The Explorer cares more about their needs right now than anything else. Keep the focus on them and nurture the relationship before diving into things like Scripture references and church invites.
Respond in a Timely Manner
Review connections regularly and respond within a quick and timely basis, depending on time of day. Respond to urgent messages as soon as possible. Data shows that Explorer response rates can climb up to 70% when responded to within 15 minutes. Having a team in place allows you to assign days and times to be available to respond, although they are not expected to respond to after hours messages.
Keep it Simple & Friendly
Keep messages short and to the point. Create a friendly tone and consider using an emoji. Be mindful of filler words and church jargon that the Explorer will not understand! Remember that you don't know the Explorer's perspective on church or Christians at the beginning, so word like "scripture," "prayer," "grace," and "Lord" may not land the way you expect them to.
Be the Bridge
If they need crisis resources or professional services, help them find it. You don’t need to be their counselor or therapist. For more on at-risk conversations and resources click here.
Before You Reply, Pray First
Before you respond, take a moment to pray for the Explorer, the situation they’re facing and over your response.
Be the Kind Friend
The best friends are the ones that listen, don’t give their opinion or solve a problem unless asked, and don’t preach. They relate and walk quietly next to you in the hardships of life. Explorers are looking for you to be that person. Be empathetic by trying to understand the pain or need they are going through and relate it back to them.
Take It Slow
We build strong relationships through listening, caring and developing trust over time. When we follow up too soon, bring the conversation to our church or beliefs, or send them unsolicited invitations, we move the tone of the conversation away from the Explorer to ourselves.
Ways to pace the conversation:
Wait for them to ask about you, then gently share something that relates.
Give them space and follow up in a few days.
Only offer to pray with them if they ask.
Ways to break the conversation:
Sign them up for your mailing list without asking.
Push prayer, scripture, or your church on them while ignoring their need.
Relentlessly message them for a response (spamming).
If the Explorer is local to you and the relationship grows in trust, extend an invitation to connect in person. This may take a few text messages (they offer to connect in person) or a few days or weeks of messaging to build trust before extending an invitation. You will need to decide what works best for you both.
Don’t pressure them to meet but occasionally offer to talk further in depth in a public setting.
Pick a neutral location that will be disarming for the Explorer, such as a local coffee shop.
Avoid meeting one-on-one with the opposite sex. If necessary, bring your spouse or a church staff member.