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By Jonathan Howe

In podcast episode 300, we briefly touched on guest welcome packets. Following the interest in that episode and after last week’s post on guests’ gifts, it seemed only prudent to expand on the topic.

Guest welcome packets differ from a guest letter. And while they can be mailed, it’s sometimes more effective to hand these out at an information desk while the guest is still on campus. Some churches opt to have packets available at kids check-in or in the student ministry area as well. This makes it easy to include age-appropriate information in the packet because the parents are dropping off a child in that age range.

So whether you mail your guest packet or give it out on Sunday, here are six items to be sure to include:

  1. General information about the church and next steps. The information should be a brief overview. There’s no need to have a 30-page history of the church. Provide an overview of the church’s vision, its group strategy, and how to take the next step toward membership. This next step should also include information about making a personal decision for Christ.
  2. Information about specific ministries that might be of interest. Trained guest experience volunteers can make the difference in a guest connecting to the church or not. Volunteers need to be perceptive to the needs and wants of the guest and provide the specific information that’s relevant to them. As previously stated, this can easily be pre-loaded if the packets are given out in age-specific areas, but if you hand them out at a welcome center, insert this information according to need as you give them to the guest.
  3. A welcome gift. I covered four common guest gifts last week and several others were mentioned in the comments—including my personal favorite of chips and salsa. Whatever your gift may be, if you can provide it in the packet, that’s great. If you deliver it later to the home, that also can work in certain contexts.
  4. Stories from members. Member stories allow you to connect to guests on a personal level. When compiling member stories for the welcome packet, just use first names of those who provide their story and highlight three main points in each story: where the member was in their life before coming to your church, how they connected to the church, and how the connection changed them.
  5. Weekly schedule. Don’t assume the guest will look up times and events online or in the bulletin. Provide a schedule of major weekly events for them to hang on to or to stick on the fridge. Even if you think the times are easy to remember, it will take guests some time to remember dates and times when they are new to your church.
  6. Important upcoming dates. This can be compiled for each major season of the church calendar. Right now, you should include late summer events, back to school events, and major fall events. Later in the year, add the holiday schedule to the list. Then in the spring, add your Easter and major summer events.

What else does your church include in its guest welcome packet? Do you even have a guest welcome packet?

Jonathan Howe serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives at LifeWay Christian Resources as well as the host and producer of Rainer on Leadership and SBC This Week. Jonathan writes weekly at on topics ranging from social media to websites and church communications. Connect with Jonathan on Twitter at @Jonathan_Howe.

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