As church ministry staff with some variation of marketing/communication in our title, we spend a good percentage of our time focused on promoting things. We want our people and our visitors to know about all the options available to them so they can feel connected with our church family and grow closer to God.
But with multiple ministries and initiatives competing for attention, the larger question often becomes: How do we keep from overwhelming people—and especially guests—with too much information?
What’s Your Strategy?
Here are some thoughts on how to develop an information strategy for your guests.
Don’t be “Pushy”
I’ve been in churches whose Information Centers looked like the lobby of the Ramada Inn with a giant rack of brochures for local attractions. This typically makes your ministries happy, as they feel equally represented. It’s what I call the “Push” strategy, as in—we push all our information at guests and imagine they will make their own choice to connect with a ministry or opportunity. If we’re honest, this scenario is easier for us, but leaves it to the guest to figure out the differences and significance of all our groups, studies and opportunities, and where to start.
Do Subtly Pull
If a visitor has voluntarily gone to the trouble to find and show up at your church, it’s safe to say they already have some interest in who you are and what you do. What they need now is a very narrow range of information and opportunities you’ve carefully curated for them. A welcome or guest card/brochure is a great place to start.
The Guest Card/Brochure
Many churches use some type of visitor info card—either in the pew rack or included with the bulletin. It asks a guest to provide their information so someone can follow up with them and help them decide what to do next. Although it’s passive—meaning it puts the burden on the guest to initiate the follow-up process—it’s a simple tool that works when framed in a guest welcome that indicates your desire to connect them into your church.
But rather than waiting for guests to opt-in with an info card, what might it look like if you framed the guest card as an invitation, a personalized opportunity? Here are some ways a guest card or brochure can help boost guest engagement:
1. Keep It Short
- This piece could be a two-sided card or a simple tri-fold. Again, your goal isn’t to shoehorn in thorough descriptions and every detail. Consider it as your initial introduction and take some time to think through how you want a visitor to perceive your church.
- Avoid including your core values here. Even though they’re important, values are usually tied to strategy and tend to sound like corporate-speak rather than family.
2. Introduce Yourself
- What do you think your church is known for? Healthy families, a passion for kids, a love for serving your community? List three to four things your church cares about. Write briefly about those things (two to three sentences) in a casual voice. This helps give guests a sense of who you are and what you’re about.
3. Provide One or Two Ways to Get Involved
- Welcome Class: This is a visitor connection opportunity—a welcome lunch or dessert with the pastor, a next step or 101 class. It’s where you’ll talk about your church’s goals and core values, maybe some brief history, and provide specific next steps guests can take, such as joining a Bible study or small group. This may be your preferred and only next step.
- Join a small group: If small groups or Bible studies are your DNA, you might offer this as a separate option. Or if serving is your passion, include your next service activity. You’re making it as easy as possible for guests to connect with others in your church.
4. Include an Information Card
- As part of designing your guest brochure, decide how to include a tear-off section, or create a separate companion card. Because you’ve invited guests to connect in a specific way, in this context the info card feels less like an opt-in and more like an RSVP.
- Include clear instructions for what to do with the card: Drop it in the offering basket, hand it to a volunteer at the information table, turn it in to get a free gift, etc.
- Follow. Up. Make sure you have a process in place before you launch your new visitor cards. Who will collect the filled-out cards? Who’s going to enter the visitor’s info into the database? In how many days will you email a greeting and confirmation?
Once you’ve thoughtfully “pulled” your guests into connection with your church, they’ll start to explore other opportunities on their own. And you can finally get rid of that Ramada Inn brochure rack.
Jan Lynn wrote this originally at Church Marketing Sucks .