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  • Writer's pictureDarrell Stetler II

Do You Have These 4 Things Ready for Christmas Outreach?

Some time ago, I told the story of how I completely blew our first Trunk-or-Treat outreach event.  It was a smashing success… except I didn’t collect anyone’s information!

Here’s how to make sure you cover your bases & so people don’t slip through the cracks in your upcoming Christmas service:

1. Create & cover “strategic bottlenecks.”

At this Trunk-or-Treat in our parking lot, we had people walking in from all over.  They weren’t sure where to go.  It was dark.  We had people join in the middle of the tour.  So we had to get creative with how we channelled people.

  1. We put a lighted “start here” sign where we wanted them to go first

  2. We ran caution tape around the outside of the parking lot

  3. We put greeters with reflective vests walking the perimeter, directing people toward the “start” sign

By doing these things, we created a “strategic bottleneck” — it’s a place where we deliberately want everyone to go through, and  s l o w   d o w n   while they do it.  (More on that later.)

At your Christmas service, it’s probably just as simple as making sure you cover your main exits with greeters.

2. Don’t forget to have someone focused on getting information.

The second year we did our Trunk or Treat outreach, (since I had blown it so badly the first time!) I gave a guy a stack of Guest Connection Cards, and said, “Can you make sure everyone gets one of these, and ask them to fill it out?”

Connection Card front 2013 FINAL

But I didn’t count on the fact that he would be asked to do a dozen other things through the chaos of the evening.  Guests who come to your church are so important, you need to start an ongoing conversation with them!

Instead: Train your greeters to cover your strategic bottlenecks, what to say to get people’s info, and keep them focused on that task alone.

3. Don’t just ask them for info; serve them, too.

You can’t just leave data collection to the will of the crowd, by saying “Hey, we’d love for you to fill out this card!”  People are not motivated by your need for their contact info!  It needs to be more about them than it is about you.  I found out, if you just hand out guest collection cards and ask people to fill them out, THEY WON’T most of the time.

Here’s a hint: Serve their needs in your data collection area!

See, we wanted people to slow down in our “strategic bottleneck.”  The best way to do that is with service and food! For our Trunk or Treat, we cooked hot dogs, served chips, bottled water and hot chocolate.  They had time to stop & share their info, while we filled a need they had.

Your best plan might be to hook them up with a donut & hot chocolate in your foyer, where you have a greeter stationed… or wherever is easiest for you.

If you want a 31 point checklist that will help you get “ready for company” — email me at 🙂

4. Offer an incentive to share info.

One final piece, if you really want to get info.  Buy 2 $25 gift cards, and tell people if they’ll turn that in, they’re enrolled in the drawing.

I can hear someone yelling, “GIMMICK!!!”  

Maybe.  But almost every family that came through filled it out.  And we got to stay in touch with them.  (We’re still doing follow up with them! This week, I’ll check in with each one through a text message, and next week we send them all an invitation to our Christmas service…)

For your Christmas outreach, it’s probably as simple as buying up a few $5 gift cards and saying during offering time: “If you’re a guest here today, please don’t give in our offering.  We’re not after your money.  But we would LOVE it if you’d share your address with us.  Just drop that guest card you received in the offering, or hand it to a greeter — we’ll send you a thank you note for coming, and a little gift card in the mail.  We’re so excited to get to know you better!”

See if that doesn’t help get 100% of your guests to share!

Would you like a webinar on guest followup? 

This video is part of the Small Church Pastor Coaching Program.

I’ve released hours of video training for pastors… including a complete guest follow-up system, and HOW to implement it.

7 STeps to Build a Killer Guest Follow-Up System - webinar

In this webinar, you’ll discover:

  1. how my failure in a key outreach event changed our guest followup forever.

  2. how to effectively collect info from first time guests

  3. how to consistently stay in touch with people

  4. tips for convincing your congregation to start a guest followup system

  5. how to help people see your church as friendly

  6. how to do all this without significantly increasing your work load!

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