Take the Guessing out of Guests: 4 Strategies to Engage Guests this Christmas
It’s officially December, the season of live Nativities, giving trees, shopping and hot chocolate (or your favorite seasonal hot beverage of choice – I’m looking at you Peppermint Mocha). As I sit in the designated “man bench” in the third department store of the day listening to Brenda Lee belt “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” while my wife shops, I’m looking at my calendar and wondering how I only have about 7 free evenings this month.
Does your schedule look like mine? A Christmas party on one day, a white elephant gift exchange on the weekend, a family get together next week, and tacky lights tour the next week, then a progressive Christmas dinner with some friends, and on and on it goes. As busy as it seems, I always do enjoy this time of year. There’s something about taking a deep breath of cold air and smelling the fir trees at the local Christmas tree tent.
The chances that you’ll find yourself a guest in someone else’s home this year are pretty high, as it’s been reported that about 44% of people tend to host a Christmas party at some point during the holidays. You yourself might be included in that 44%, and if so it’s likely you’ll be welcoming guests with open arms, and as a good host or hostess always does, ensuring their experience in your home is a great one. Not just ensuring a great atmosphere at the party, but even going as far to follow up with a plus one of one of your party guests who you talked to about the new Star Wars movie with to see how they liked it. Because isn’t that what a holiday party is all about? Strengthening relationships with friends and family while also showing kindness and extending friendship to someone new? I like to think about these types of things as the “‘tis the season” time of year is upon us.
Thinking about being a guest in someone’s home this Christmas season also makes me think about all the people that may find themselves guests in a church this time of year. After all, Christmas isn’t just a time for celebration culturally, as it’s an even more important time of celebrating the birth of our Savior, and helping people find true meaning and joy in this season. As we prepare to have guests come through our church doors for Christmas concerts, Christmas Eve services or a Sunday service on December, it’s important that we treat them just like a guest that would enter our own home. Warmly, with a smile and intentional spirit to get to know them better and spread the love of Christ. Just as Easter is the “Super Bowl” for churches, Christmas isn’t much different, keeping with the football analogy it’s almost like a playoff game. In order for people to understand the Easter story, they need to understand where Christ came from, kind of like the road of the playoffs that got them there. We are here to help you engage guests this Christmas season, and hopefully keep them engaged as they return to church throughout the upcoming year. Here are four things to keep in mind as you welcome guests and hopefully touch their lives this Christmas.
4 Strategies to Engage Guests This Christmas
An Invitation is Everything
What’s more personal than getting an invitation? It communicates you’re wanted, and there is an experience that your presence is welcome at. Once you get members and regular attenders on board with inviting someone during the month of December, there’s another step you need their help with. You have to help people understand how to guide visitors through the church service. Members and attenders can explain the order of service and introduce their guests to new people who might have common interests.
Assign The Troops To A Mission
Greeters and volunteers should be on the lookout for guests who seem to be lost or looking for direction of what to do next. They should seek them out, greet them with a smile and ask if they can assist them in any way. Striking up conversation is a great way to get to know someone, and maybe a guest will have a connection with that volunteer, or they can help find someone else to introduce to the conversation that may have a strong connection to the guest.
You can use contact or connection cards, either on paper or online through aware3 SMS text or app technology, to gather phone numbers, addresses and email addresses of guests. It’s so important to have follow up information, because engaging guests beyond Sunday is where the real transformation and connection begin.
What’s On Deck
Now that you have gotten guests in your doors, it’s important to give them a reason to come back. During the announcements or in the bulletin, make sure you prominently display what’s coming up for your church in the new year. Sermon times, small groups or Sunday school times and children’s activities are the basic information needed. If you have ministry specific events (men’s, women’s, etc.), community service opportunities, connection dinners and membership classes, those are the events that will help guests feel like there is something really happening at your church, and they’ll want to join in.
What strategies do you use to equip your team to invite and engage with guests, and keep them coming back in the new year?