A first-rate welcome packet is an important part of the new visitor experience. Done correctly, a packet can help to draw someone back to your church again, by informing them of opportunities to connect with other members while also reminding them of the personality and mission of your church. Let’s evaluate this tool and explore how to create an effective welcome packet with limited effort while saving money.
Every welcome packet has 2 basic components: the outer shell, and the internal materials. Some churches start with the outer shell and then decide what to put in it. Others choose what they want to give to attendees, and then choose an appropriate container for those resources. Either way works; just find what works best for your team.
The outside of a welcome packet can take many forms. Some churches opt for putting literature inside a mug; others use bags or fancy printed boxes. But the most common approach is the presentation folder, which offers a low-cost way to present information to your new attendees. The challenge with folders is that they can lack personality. Linen folders with gold embossed lettering, the norm at many traditional churches, may say that you are classy, but not necessarily friendly.
To increase the personality of your packets, try using full-color printing to add warmth and character. Full-color printing can often cost less than customizing those older linen folders, and offer a lot more flexibility with the design. You can add your name, your logo, your mission statement, even a Bible verse, all in the context of a beautiful image that represents your church.
If you decide to utilize a more exotic outer wrap, then make sure it fits at least one of these three criteria to maximize the effort.
It helps create a consistent theme. For example, a brown lunch bag says, “We’re casual.”
It offers something useable, such as a mug or water bottle.
It focuses on a unique aspect of your church. For example, a media-savvy church might include the materials along with a DVD in a plastic DVD case.
Whether your church decides on using presentation folders, mugs, or a different shell for your kits, make sure the outside of your packet intrigues the newcomer into opening it up and reading the materials inside.
The inside resources are even more varied than the different outer shells. I have seen kitchen magnets, pens, pencils, and other promotional materials added to different forms of printed resources. There are DVD’s, CD’s, and probably MP3’s you can deliver as well.
Don’t go overboard, though. Limit the amount of promotional materials used in any welcome packet. We live in a day and age where people are given promotional materials from every business in their neighborhood. Promotional materials are designed for organizations that are saying “when you need _______ service or product, then give us a call.” As churches we are not waiting for people to need us for their spiritual fix. Our goal is to show attendees the value in participating with a community of people growing together in the understanding of Christ. What people want is personality. They want warmth. They want community.
A welcome packet is just a corporate packet or a trade-show gift if it doesn’t offer up a real sense of the community that your church embraces. Every church is different, but I recommend starting with the idea of using bright colors, smiling faces, and personal touches to create a sense of what your church is really about. Forget about the chotchkies.
By example, one church we worked with recently combined a full-color folder with colorful 4″ x 6″ postcard-sized inserts for each ministry. The kit was warm and energetic, while offering a lot of information about the church. One card was a personal invitation from the pastor, and in the business card slot of the folder they placed a few invitation style cards. This allowed the new attendee to have an easy reminder of church times, with a few extras to share with friends.
Adding something of value is always a nice touch, especially when it ties to your congregation’s sense of community. Although a pencil is nice, a coupon to the in-church coffee shop, bookstore, or gift at the information area is a better way to entice people to come back again. If you do go for the promotional items, choose something they are likely to use. A quality water bottle, mug, or keychain light can all be effective. Just remember that quality promotional gifts cost more, so don’t plan for those items unless you have the budget to do it right.
Once you have a great looking welcome packet, make sure they get in to the hands of your guests. Remember, you don’t want to embarrass the guest by making them acknowledge themselves in a big crowd. Set aside an area in the foyer that says “For New Guests” or “First Time Visitor?” then have a friendly face greeting them and asking about their experience. A friendly conversation at the end of the service is worth more than any welcome packet can offer.
With some thought and focus you can turn the traditional welcome packet into an effective communication tool for your ministry. Remember, a welcome packet is not just a chance to be creative. It is an opportunity to be effective at reminding a newcomer how valuable they are to God and to your church. That, in the end, is what will bring them back again.