Why a First Time Guest bag?
For several years now we’ve handed out a small gift bag to all of our first-time guests (FTGs). There are three reasons behind that:
- It’s a simple way of showing our appreciation for their visit. Because of their trust with their time, we want to say “thanks.”
- It gives guests specific next steps. We begin with the end in mind and know what our intention is for a guest after they show up. (We’ll cover that below.)
- But even more than that, our bag serves a grander purpose: it marks our guests so that we can treat them special throughout their visit.
Whatever size church you have, it’s not always easy to know who’s seasoned and who’s new. Your guest services team might be shy about engaging with people because they’re afraid they’ll offend a long-time member. A FTG clearly identifies a guest without them knowing they’re being identified.
What’s in the bag?
We keep the bag intentionally light, because again – we want to clearly define the next step. Rather than advertising every small group, men’s bacon breakfast, and “mommy and me” outing on the calendar, we include only three printed pieces:
Welcome brochure. This is a simple one-fold that highlights our “big five” that most people want to know about: kids, students, and college ministries, small groups, and Starting Point. Starting Point is our newcomers event, so it gets top billing in the brochure.
“What is the Gospel?” booklet. We took a brief article our pastor wrote and retrofitted it for a little book. In just a few pages he goes into great detail on what the gospel is and why people need a relationship with Jesus. And on the last page, we invite people to learn more by coming to Starting Point.
Starting Point invite card. This is the one item that’s not already in the bag. Our FTG team uses this as a talking point to specifically invite people to their next step. If you’re keeping score, that is three invitations to Starting Point. Seems sort of clear what the expectation is, right?
Drink tumbler. This is the gift that’s a part of the bag. Designed after a Starbucks cold cup, we intentionally chose a big chunky cup in a flat bottomed bag so that guests would have to keep it out of their pockets or purses, thereby making the bags visible. (I reckon we could’ve had the same effect with an inflatable raft.)
Now it’s your turn.
If you don’t have something that you give to your first time guests, there’s not a more practical idea I can share with you. Our FTG bags have increased engagement, allowed us to fast-track conversations, and given us easy, non-awkward ways to know who’s new. Figure out what your next step is, and design a bag around that. And if you’re looking for a great supplier, you’ll probably be interested to know that both our bag and the tumbler are printed by Promo Direct, a company we’ve worked with (and love!) for the last several years.
(photo: Lindsey Wachter)