Just a quick post while I’m on the road. A colleague of mine and I were talking about appropriate follow-up plans for first-time visitors and I referenced a thread on the Advanced Leadership Forum about what was considered a “valuable” gift. I had written about the pastor taking a gift to a first-time visitor within 24 hours of their visit in an earlier blog post and mentioned a coffee mug as a gift. In the “valuable” gift thread, I echoed Tom Bandy’s sentiments that a gift taken to a guest should reflect something of value … and folks, coffee mugs just don’t make it much in that realm. Why, even the local garage and the banks give away mugs and though they can be a “nice” gift, very few people marvel at the gift of a mug from a Realtor, let alone a church. A gift of value is something that sets you apart from the crowd … it makes an impression. So, back to the convesation with my colleague. We were talking about “valuable” gifts and I mentioned that in some locales, a plate of homemade cookies (with a fridge magnet for posterity’s sake) would be more memorable than a mug. That sparked an insight. Turns out that one of the churches there in Jefferson City has a bee keeper and first time visitor leave the worship service with a small jar of honey. On the following day, a member of their follow-up team takes the guests a loaf of hot homemade bread to go with their honey. I thought … what a good idea! But their program could be made even more effective with two additions. First, I love the idea of sending them home with honey. That’s a nice way to get visitors to identify themselves and give up their contact information. Second, I love the idea of taking them hot homemade bread … but the pastor should be the one taking it, and s/he should be taking it that day.
But there’s still one thing missing. Permanency. Once the bread’s gone and the honey’s gone, there’s nothing but a memory. It’ll be a good memory, but they may or may not remember where the great gift came from six months from now when a crisis hits and they seek both God and a church in earnest. So I did a very brief Google search and came up with this: a small honey pot to go with the bread and honey ($2,70 each).Someone with a steady hand could add the name and contact info of the church on the honey pot (or a ceramic’s group could actually make them and decorate them by hand) and then the valuable gift has everything … it creates good will, it makes an impression, and it has permanency to preseve the memory. And if this church (or yours) did this, first time visitors would be telling their friends about the church they visited that helped them feel valuable too.