It’s not just about “information”

It’ not just about information, it’s about the right information at the right time for engagement.  What am I talking about?  I’m talking about easy steps to providing a “Welcome Center” that work.  I’m often asked to give a run down of what to do and not do for your “information” or “welcome” centers.  So here are a few things to chew on.

Plan Ahead

Welcome Centers don’t just throw themselves together 15 minutes before a service begins.  That is unless you allow every ministry on campus to drop off their “promotional pieces” and “sign-up forms” just as persons are walking into the worship center.  Not recommended.  Ask yourself what you want to accomplish with your Welcome Center.  Is it just a place for print pieces to be stored or is it really a place to help persons feel welcomed, answer questions they may have, and make sure they have the “right” piece of information.  Sit down with several members of your ministry team and develop a plan for the Welcome Center.  Determine a process for ministries to submit their print piece advertisements, set a time line for having them in, set an evaluation standard for what gets promoted when, determine how much information is too much information for persons to choose from.  More information isn’t better…the right information is better.

Enlist a Team

Welcome Centers should not be run by staff, they should be run by volunteers.  Enlist a team of volunteers to help oversee the direction, development, and implementation of your Welcome Center.   I have found that volunteers running Welcome Centers are much healthier than staff, why?, because it puts your membership with those you are trying to connect.  What better way than having your own congregation lead the way in helping connect persons who are your guests.

Keep It Simple

You’ve heard me say that more isn’t always better….better is better.  Too often we get this since that the more print pieces we have available for someone to choose from the better.  Why is that?  Do we think that our guests are going to necessarily know what they need.  Not in the slightest.  We need to provide them with the best information in the fewest pieces of print possible.  Therefore, I recommend one print piece that highlights all your “core” ministries.  The big bucket ministries if you will.  That is what they are looking for anyway.  Ask them and they’ll tell you, “Give me what you need me to know without me carrying home a folder of information.”  I know, because I asked them.  Now this doesn’t mean that you will not have other pieces available if they ask for more, just that you need a signature piece that communications at least the major ministries with contact information.  The piece will be the first print piece you give.  If they ask for more specific information about a particular ministry then you can pull it from a folder and give it too them, but having every print piece in sight might be overwhelming.

Make it Visible

I’ve noticed over the past several years when visiting churches that for some reason we like to play hide and seek with our Welcome Centers.  Why is that?  If the goal is for persons to come to there for assistance than let’s do everything possible to put it right on the front lines.  This might include signage and/or volunteers who directs persons from parking lots to the Welcome Center.  It might include TV monitors through out the facility or campus.  It might for some include electronic kiosk which have maps of the campus with available print pieces that direct them to the Welcome Center.  Consider every means necessary to direct guests to the Welcome Center from the first time they step on the campus and/or in the building.

Use Technology when available

I’ve been learning these past few years that when available the use of technology is a great addition to any Welcome Center.  Technology may come in the form of computer kiosks available for quests to search for upcoming events, TV Monitors hanging or on display with day, week, and upcoming event information.  Computer stations available for event registrations.  And even plasma screens which show live feeds of the services for persons who aren’t quite ready to sit in the “big room”.

Hope you find this helpful…chew on them and let me here what you have found helpful for your “Welcome Centers”.

By the Way….we are launching our first Pod Cast tomorrow morning (Tuesday, September 4th)  see you then.  Please use your networks to get the word out…we’d love to hear your input after listening to the pod cast.  We know it will be a tool we all can use. 

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