by Jane Robinson
Get ready! They’re coming! Who? Easter visitors! (Easter Sunday is April 12!) They will listen to God’s Word and worship with you. And they will look around at your church—at the building, of course, and at the people, too.
Before they arrive, take a moment to stand back and look at things through their eyes. Consider a few changes to make your facility more welcoming. Involve as many people as possible in your “spruce up” activities. It will encourage more members to take ownership and pride in your building. Besides, as my mom always says, “Many hands make light work.”
- Church grounds. Get a few people together in late March and spiff up the yard, parking area, and signage. If you do not have parking spots reserved for guests, find a way to designate a few. Remove the trash that has blown into the fence row. Fix the entry door that sticks. Home buyers value “pride in ownership”; so will your guests.
- Church entrance. Stop just inside the front door and look around. What do you see first? Is that what you want visitors to see first?
- Bulletin boards, visitor center, common areas. What’s on the bulletin boards? Can some of the clutter be removed? Do the events speak to everyone? Or just to “insiders”? For example, will visitors understand that “Power Up” is the name of your worship band? Will they know how to find the discussion group “In Judy’s Office”?
- The people. Next Sunday, look around at the people in your church. Notice the way they interact and the expressions on their faces. Isn’t it great to belong to the community of God? Even so, the “close family feel” members enjoy may make visitors feel shunned or excluded. Research shows visitors decide in the first five minutes whether they will come back or not! Let your regular attenders know this and encourage them to open up to newcomers. A smile and a “Hi, I’m Jane” is all it takes to help people feel welcome.
- How to treat visitors. Maybe you already have a visitor program in place. As you stock up on visitor gifts in preparation for Easter, consider some of these Christ-centered options:
- Greet adults with a big package of coordinated products that say Welcome Friend [Link to Welcome Friend page] or include the one or two items that best fit your church and budget. CTA’s custom team can imprint quite a few of these items with information about your church. If you prefer something that’s all about Easter, the Jesus Lives, Rejoice! pen and bookmark set makes a very attractive and useful gift, and it puts the Easter message in each visitor’s hand. The bookmark in this set is imprintable, as well. You can add the text yourself on CTA’s Web site, and right now, your set up may be free! (See our site for details.) But you need to hurry. Imprintable items for Easter must be ordered by March 25.
- Greet children of all ages with small tokens expressing welcome. As a mom, I appreciate it when people acknowledge my children as individuals. Your visitors will appreciate age-appropriate welcome gifts, too. For example, you will delight kids ages 3 to 8 with the My Jellybean Prayer Book. It comes in its own easy-to-carry bag and the bag is free with the purchase of a book.
For a unique special touch, give young visitors a Gospel Easter Egg®. Each egg will remind them of the Good News of Jesus in a slightly different way.
Engage slightly older children in the salvation story by giving them the Gospel Story by Colors Coloring and Activity Book.
Tweens and teens will be impressed with the Life. Death. Victory. More-Than-a-Story Unfolding Cube or the Extreme Love Corded Bracelet with Metal Plate.
A full church at Easter always makes my eyes fill with tears of joy. Whether or not those one-time visitors return (and we pray fervently that they will), they’re going to hear the most powerful message of all time. Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, did not stay dead. He is not in the grave. HE IS RISEN!
I’d be thrilled to hear about how it went with your Easter visitors. These days, I’m one of the bloggers at share.ctainc.com. Consider yourself invited to comment on my blog or in one of our forums.
We’re praying for you, for your congregation, and especially for your Easter visitors!