Things I learned from my Birthday

Church! 3 Communication Things Learned from a Birthday Mistake

Another birthday in the books. It’s done. Before the celebration I googled all the restaurants that offer something free for a birthday and signed up for about 20. Yes, as promised, I got emails from each giving me their totally free product (from ice cream, dessert, meals, burgers, etc.). I’ve gained weight trying to eat everything that was given to me. Urp. Happy Birthday!

As I drove (often out of my way) around town on different days to get my “deal”, I was amazed that not once did anyone wish me a happy birthday (even after showing my birthday email voucher). What a fail! There’s something to be learned here.

See, I gave the restaurant what they were seeking: I registered my email to their list and gave them my attendance. Then the restaurant gave me my freebie. So how did they fail?

They didn’t make me feel special. Sadly, our churches do something very similar. Let’s learn!

New church guests should be happening regularly. Most wish they happened more! But, like the restaurants that failed me, we must ensure our guests feel special. Here are 3 ways we FAIL this system:

  1. Online registration FAIL. Many churches have online forms that allow guests to register upcoming attendance. We get their contact info but often we do nothing with it. Best practices? Give them something immediately with a promise of something when they arrive (ie. a downloadable eBook and then a special gift like a book, free cup of specialty coffee, or tee shirt when they arrive). But, make sure guest services makes them feel extra special (they know they’re a guest because they request the gift): with a warm welcome, ask about additional questions, or register them for an upcoming “Dinner with the Pastor”. This is your chance!
  2. Guest parking spot FAIL. Our churches have special guest spots yet when someone parks there, no one watches to give them an extra welcome when they arrive at the front door. Best practices? Ensure your greeters are monitoring those spots and have a plan to make them feel welcome (ie. suggest that they start at the Guest Center, offer them a welcome gift, ask if you can walk them somewhere or answer questions). Perhaps parking attendants can radio ahead to the door greeters when someone parks in the special spots!
  3. Welcome Kit FAIL. Most churches have visitor packs. But our congregations aren’t being taught to watch for people holding them. Best practices? Train members to watch for the packet and offer to have those holding them to sit together, help them find something, or suggest a Bible class. This requires a guest card or folder that sticks out (ie. special color and/or larger than a Bible). You want people to not be aware they’re identifying as a guest! Make sure your congregation (and leadership) makes everyone feel welcome — but especially those who self-identify.

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