In this post, I’ll detail how I use planning center workflows for first time guests. You may choose to apply these concepts in different ways, or even by means of a different software. I’ll be making some detailed comments about how to do things in Planning Center People, but the general concepts can be transferred to other ChMS (church management software) out there.

Accessing Planning Center Workflows

In Planning Center People (as of 2/2/2018) there is a tab in the top blue bar labelled “workflows.” I’ve written an overview about this feature before. This is where the magic happens! A workflow is a predetermined set of steps that you can take with a specific group of people. Now, let’s dive into the my workflow for first time guests.

You’ll notice that at the time of this screenshot, “workflows” is the third option from the left. When you click on that option you will be taken to a screen that looks similar to the one below, but without my custom workflows built in.

planning center workflows for first time guests 2

Now that we’re on the correct screen, lets talk about what you can do here. You’ll notice on the screenshot that I’ve created several different workflows for separate tasks.

planning center workflows for first time guests

I’ll start with one that is pretty basic. I have one workflow that is labelled “First Time Guests.” So, anyone who turns in a connection card (or checks in a child for the first time on a Sunday) is placed into this workflow. Planning Center workflows for first time guests enable me to track who requested information, and what they have been sent. I’ll start by clicking on the workflow and the screen below is shown:

planning center workflow for first time guests

I have put only one “card” into the workflow for ease of demonstration. A card is a record of actions taken on a person’s record within the workflow. These “cards” are searchable when creating lists later on.

So the first thing I will do is click on Keith’s name, or the blue “view card” button. Then I will see this screen:

planning center workflows for first time guests

At this point I can make a note about something I remember talking with him about (if I met him personally) or whatever. I can also send him an email. In this workflow that is exactly what I want to do.

At this point I will open up a google doc that I have created with pre-composed emails for some of my different workflows. For this particular workflow I have the following email created:

We appreciate your attendance! We hope that everything went smoothly and that your experience at Greenwood was enjoyable. If there is anything we can do to help you out, or answer questions please call us at 817-596-8302. We’re on the web at [](

We would really love to hear what you thought about your time here, so would you do us a favor? Would you answer this short [5 question survey?]( It will give you a chance to let us know if there is anything we can do better.

At Greenwood, we hope that people will attend worship, be a part of a small group, and be a part of sharing God’s love with others. You can find out more about small groups [here]( .

Thanks again for attending!

-[Justin Allison](

Now you will notice that there are some formatting notes in that text (with brackets and parentheses). That is because you can include formatting in the email by using markdown. This allows me to include links within the email for a survey that I send everyone, and our small group directory. You would be surprised how successful these links are (the subject of another blog post).

I copy that text from the google document, then paste it into the email field in Keith’s card in the workflow and add the subject line, like this: “Thanks for Attending at Greenwood”

Then I click the button outlined in blue that says “send email.”

Concluding thoughts about Planning Center Workflows for First Time Guests

Now I have sent my first time guest an email, with information about the church and a survey to see if we are doing our job well.

Caveat: What if I do not have an email address? In that case, if the person is over 50 I’ll usually call them personally. If the person is under 50, I’ll usually send them a brief text message thanking them for their visit. In fact, you can do this from planning center if you use Clearstream, an additional service.

I can still go in and make a note if I need to do so. For example, if they leave an identifying comment on a survey question (I have one that is open ended), then I’ll mark that they said that as a note on their card so I can see that later. Remember, your pastoral care at a large church can be greatly improved if you keep a good database. A workflow like mine using Planning Center Workflows for First Time Guests is easy to create and ensures that all of our guests who want to be contacted will be contacted.


3 comments on “How I Use Planning Center Workflows for First Time Guests

  • Hey Justin!

    I’m just starting to use Workflows in PCO, and notice that when I send an email directly from a person’s card in a workflow, the ‘From’ field when they receive the email says my name (that’s good), but the email is actually ‘[email protected]…” which means I can’t get replies from my visitors!

    Is there a way to fix this? 🙂


    • I had that problem as well. What I started doing was ctrl clicking (or cmd click on a Mac) their name to open their profile in a new window. Then I click them email address and send them an email from that interface. It takes more button pressing but it fixes your issue, and allows you to use saved email templates. Then i go back to the workflow page and Mark them completed, or move them to the next step.

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