Inside the Hillsong call centre targeting new recruits
Megachurch Hillsong relies on increasing congregation numbers to bolster its $100 million in revenue and now, a phone script used to encourage new members and a photo of its call centre show just how it's done.
Hillsong's total revenue in 2018 topped $103.4 million, according to its annual report, with $79.6 million coming from its dedicated flock.
To encourage first-time church goers to stick it out with the church, Hillsong enlists a group of volunteers which make up its 'Follow-up Team'.
These people are responsible for calling those who leave their contact details when signing into a Hillsong service for the first time.
Their goal is to eventually funnel the contacts into volunteering roles, baptisms, Hillsong College and small meeting groups where extra donations are encouraged.
According to Hillsong guidelines unearthed by News Corp, new contacts are allocated to volunteers each Monday in an online platform where notes about previous calls, emails and face-to-face interactions are recorded.
The guideline document contains an image which appears to depict volunteers making phone these calls.
The only clue that would hint the picture was taken in a church as opposed to a call centre, is a bible in the hand of a woman in the foreground.
The goal is to have four "successful" connections with each person over 12-weeks, which is divided into four "time periods"
The guidelines state the first connection should be made in T1 (time period one), less than a week after the person has attended their first Hillsong service.
This is followed by T2, between one and three weeks since their first service, T3, between three and seven weeks, and T4, between seven and 12 weeks.
A script is also doled out to the volunteers, with tips on how to make the potential follower on the other end of the line feel comfortable and open.
The detailed advice tells volunteers to introduce themselves, confirm they have the right person and check that it is a convenient time to talk before stating the purpose of the call.
The script deviates depending on whether the potential new member is a new to Christianity, new to the church or looking to volunteer.
A new Christian who jotted down their details at a service would likely have one of these volunteers ask them: "I understand you made a decision over the weekend, is that right? … Congratulations! Were you able to receive a free Bible?".
A standard new member would be asked: "I understand you're new to our Church, I am calling to see how you are going. How are you settling in? Have you met some of our team?".
Those who received one of these calls and was asked: "Would you like to come sit with me at the service this weekend?", likely got the invite because volunteers are told to ask in the guidelines.
For those who cannot make it to the phone in time, Hillsong gives its follow-up team a text message script to send.
"Hi [Jane], My name is [Anna] & I'm a volunteer at Hillsong Church Sun 7pm. I was just calling to see how you're going & how you're enjoying church lately? Have you had a change to come to any of the 'Sunday Night Lives'?" it reads.
"I will give you a call back another time and hopefully we can chat then, or else feel free to call/SMS me back. Have a brilliant day! [Anna]".
Other strict rules the follow-up team must abide is to only leave a voice message if the person they are trying to call specifies their name in their voicemail machine message.
They are also told to: "Read any previous comments made on online church platform, for the contact you are about to call".
"These comments are the result of any previous calls, emails, or in person meetings with your contact and allow you to speed up the connection process, starting out from where the last contact finished."
Hillsong has been contacted for comment.