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Friday, September 2, 2022

How do you welcome new families to your church?


A new family walks into your church on Sunday morning for the first time.  What do you do?  Who approaches them?  Where are they sent?  How are they greeted?  I asked churches 2 questions...

1.  If you hand out a welcome bag to your first time families, what is in them?
2.  Besides giving them a welcome bag, what else do you do?  Do you follow up in any way?  

Here are the answers I received...

Of course everyone needs to include a newsletter and a card with the times of the service along with all contact info.  If it is a family with young kids or youth, then you need to give them info on what is offered for children/youth as well as upcoming events.  One nice thing one of my churches did was to include something special from that area - we were in PA near Lititz where they make Wilbur chocolate.  So they included a few of those :)  Maybe your area is known for something that you could include?  

But apart from mugs and water bottles or color changing cups, what cool swag items do you have in your welcome bag?  

Personalized sunglass visor clips.  I'd never heard of these or seen you may need to include this pic with them so others know what they are for :) But they do look very handy!  And with your church name and website on the outside, they'd see it almost everyday! Here is one I found that you can personalize.

Personalized boxes of crayons for the kiddos - I know it's tempting to put candy in the bags, but as a parent, I ask that you don't.  I have a daughter that has a severe food allergy and a niece that has an extremely strict diet, and having candy pushed at our kids everywhere is very tiresome and stressful.  There are so many other cool things you can give them!  If you buy boxes of crayons during the back-to-school sales, you can get the smaller Crayola ones for as cheap as 25 cents each!  Create your own personalized sticker using labels and stick them on the box!  Easy peasy and very useful :) 
You could do the same thing with small play doh containers, mini notepads, sticky pads, etc.
It looks like this teacher printed off labels to tape around the entire box.  Also a fun idea!
Customized Calendars and magnets - There are many varieties of this.  For calendars, you can do a one page deal with a photo of the church (and all its info) at the top, you could do a small flip desk calendar that has pics from throughout the year, or a small one you can carry around with you.  Personally, I think most people use their phones now for calendars, but you could combine the fridge magnet and calendar idea and do something like this:
It's a mini calendar magnet to put on your fridge.  Useful and also informative - put a pic of your church, their address, social media, email, phone number, etc.

And just a little marketing advice to go along with the magnets - the average person visits their fridge 22 times a day...that means they have 8,030 opportunities a year to see your info ;) lol

Personalized journal and pen - Personally, I would market this is a different way.  A lot of companies hand out little journals and pens, but we are a church.  Instead of calling it a journal, put the church's name, info, etc on the front and then call it a "Sermon journal" or "notes from the Sermon" or "Sermon take-aways", etc.  That would encourage them to use it during the service :) Along the same lines, you could include a customized candle with a sticker encouraging quiet reflection and the Scripture, "Jesus is the light of the World".

I had never thought of this idea and LOVE it :)  Super creative.  I am not a fan of wasteful spending or living.  I don't like the idea of handing out tons of info or crafts or whatever, that will end up in the trash later.  But this is ingenious!  Create your welcome card on "seed paper" so that when the family is done reading the card, instead of putting it in the trash, they plant it!  And they're cute!  You could also make this a bookmark instead of a card.
Books - Perhaps your church has a connection with an author or publishing company and can get discounted books?  Or maybe someone has donated some children's books or adult devotionals?  One church I worked at had 50 religious prek children's books donated by the author.  Something like that with a personalized sticker inside would be a great addition!

Croc swag :) - you can decorate your crocs with charms and one church had some custom made with their church name!  Very creative!

Customized Lip balm balls or chapstick - This would be especially appropriate to give out in colder, drier climates :)  Add your logo and there ya go!

Personalized hand sanitizer bottles - this is certainly a useful thing to provide nowadays!  Buy a lot of bottles in bulk, create your own sticker to put on them, and you have a wonderful promo! 

Customized chargers - this is more costly, but definitely a useful tool to handout.  It would also get a LOT of "views" :)  There are bricks, power banks, and cable sets.  Lots to choose from! 

For your tweens and teens, consider buying some religious vinyl stickers that can be placed on water bottles, devices, notebooks, etc.  You could even personalize these with your youth group or children's ministry logo.  I found a good deal on generic religious ones on amazon.  

Beanies! :) If these are popular where you live, they would also be a fun addition for your tweens and teens.  Put your youth logo on the front!

I looked into getting these when I was putting together a children's welcome bag, but it just wasn't in the budget.  But there are more options now than there were 5 years ago!  Fidgets are very popular and getting customized fidgets would be awesome - for any age!  I know your kids and youth would enjoy them, but as an adult with ADD, I LOVE having something to do with my hands when I'm listening to the service :)  Take a look at fidget pens, fidget bendeez, fidget pops, fidget cubes, and more!

Another great customizable object that would be attractive to tweens, tweens, or adults, are fun pens!  I don't mean your normal ball point pens :)  Think outside the box and do something memorable! (Click the pic to take you to the website where I found them)  Bendy pens, color changing pens, fun topper with stylus, floating sand timer, and squeezy top pens!

Other customizable ideas for kids/youth that were mentioned - frisbee, ball, church logo tattoo, cloth pencil pouches, and popsockets.  For preschoolers - Bubbles with a homemade sticker saying, "Thanks for popping in!" and a reusable snack bag.  If you live in a warm climate, consider sunglasses and a beach ball!

One last fun idea for your kids, tweens, and youth is a customized puzzle!  You could order small jigsaws or mind puzzles.  Here is one that is both!  
Of course, whatever you give out, has to go IN something.  You could give out customized bags, print stickers to go on paper gift bags or boxes, or go to the Dollar Tree and get their small cloth bags (3 for $1 last I checked).  

Apart from info and swag, do you include anything else in your bag?  

Many churches have started giving out "2nd visit" coupons, which is a fun idea.  Inside your goodie bag, is a coupon that explains that when they come back for a second visit, they can turn in their coupon for a "prize".  If you have a cafe, it could be for a hot chocolate or cookie.  Or, it could be one of the above trinkets.  

Another church mentioned giving out special "first time" bracelets to the new children.  If you have a larger church with lots of children, this would be very helpful for volunteers and teachers!

So now that your visitors are in the door and have their goodie what?

Some ideas that I received:

*One church said that for every visitor that fills out an information card in the pew, the church donates $5 to the local food shelter!  They announce it every Sunday when they welcome the visitors.  What a great idea!  

*Drop off cookies/bread sometime the week after, if they left their address.

*Send a personalized postcard to the kids/youth and thank them for visiting.  One church said that while the kids wait for their parents to pick them up on Sunday mornings from Sunday school, they color postcards that are then sent out to children who visit!  Neat idea!

*Send a follow up email or text (or phone call) the next week thanking them for attending and inviting them back.

*If you get a regular amount of visitors consistently, one church said they host a meal every month or so for all new visitors to get to know one another.

Do you have any more ideas to add?   If so, comment below so others can benefit from your creativity! Thanks!

In Christ,

Laurie j