Your Church’s Visitor Packet
By Carl Moody
Many churches have found it beneficial to prepare a packet of materials especially for visitors. An attractive packet can be a good public relations tool for the church, providing information about the church and its ministries as well as evangelistic and inspirational material.
PURPOSES OF VISITOR PACKETS
There are several purposes for presenting a packet of materials from your church to a visitor. First, you want to make the visitor feel welcome. Some piece that introduces the visitor to the church and expresses that welcome is most appropriate.
Second, you want visitors to understand something about your local church- its organization, structure, and leadership-and about the Assemblies of God.
Third, you want visitors to become acquainted with your beliefs and your worship style.
Finally, you want them to know the schedule of activities for your church, meeting times, and indicate opportunities for involvement and service.
DON’T OVERDO IT
A common error in visitor packets is to provide more information than a person can assimilate, or even cares about. Packets containing 4-6 items will generally be read and found useful by visitors. Packets containing an accumulation of leftover tapes/cds, balloons, and other trinkets, along with every brochure in your literature rack may hurt rather than help you attract the visitor to your church. Consider carefully what you want to accomplish with your church’s visitor packet; then select only materials designed to accomplish those goals for inclusion in your packet.
Packaging is a consideration as well. Generally, churches that require a large envelope or shopping bag to hold all the materials are giving a visitor too much. Consider packaging your items in a pocket folder, and perhaps personalizing the folder.
THE WELCOME PIECE
Something in your packet needs to provide a welcome to the visitor. It shows you are interested and are glad he or she visited. This might be accomplished by the inclusion of a letter from the senior pastor. Such a letter, on church stationery, welcomes the visitor, indicates the availability of the staff for counselor sharing, and invites the visitor to return and become a regular worshiper at the church.
Some pastors publicly welcome visitors during each service. Many churches ask guests to complete an information card and give it to an usher or place it in the offering. Churches can use these cards to collect contact information, record spiritual decisions, gather prayer requests and more.
In connection with the welcome to visitors, many churches have a visitor’s center or area located in the lobby of the church. Either in the welcome letter, or in the public welcome, the pastor invites interested visitors to stop by the welcome station where a church member can answer questions they may have and where they may pick up other materials about the church. This welcome area is the appropriate place to have cds, mugs, or other items you wish to give away.
Here you will perhaps want at least two pieces: one introduces the visitor to your local church, while the second introduces the visitor to the Assemblies of God.
The Local Piece
Every church needs some kind of P.R. piece produced locally. This piece may be placed in visitor packets, as well as being used in evangelism outreaches, exhibits, direct mailings, and in other ways.
The local piece should be printed on attractive paper stock; usually a color stock has better appearance. One-color ink (black usually) on the paper is more appropriate than several colors. Some churches even produce an attractive four-color brochure.
The piece should contain a short message from the pastor inviting people to attend the church. It should also reflect the philosophy or characteristic of the church (family oriented, caring, mission oriented, inner-city, or other).
A listing of the primary beliefs of the church should be included. This should contain at least the four cardinal doctrines of our Fellowship (salvation, baptism in the Holy Spirit, divine healing, and the pre-tribulation return of Jesus Christ).
Brief descriptions of the various worship times and ministries of the church may be included (church services, Sunday School, Women’s and Men’s groups, Royal Rangers, Missionettes, youth meetings, choir, orchestra, and home Bible studies).
You may wish to list all your service and activity times in this piece. If you do, a separate piece will not be needed for such a listing.
Finally, some churches include photos or descriptions of the pastoral staff and sometimes the lay leaders of the church. This helps visitors identify those people when they see them.
The Assemblies of God Piece
Several items are available on the Assemblies of God. The pieces you order will depend on what your purposes are for your packet.
The Local Church is included by many churches. This brochure briefly describes the origin and purposes of the Assemblies of God, lists its cardinal doctrines, describes the relationship between local churches and the district and General Council. This brochure (item #739186) may be ordered through the Gospel Publishing House at 1-800-641-4310. A/G Current Facts (Item #739086) lists current statistics about the Assemblies of God and its ministries. Updated annually, the brochure includes maps, charts and data describing statistical trends within the fellowship.
BELIEFS, WORSHIP PIECES
Pentecostal beliefs and worship styles are unique. For this reason, most churches include a couple of pieces on these topics in their visitor packets.
There are two easy methods of listing our Pentecostal beliefs. One is to include a copy of The Pentecostal Evangel in the visitor packet. Churches including an Evangel, which always summarizes our beliefs in masthead copy, should be careful to include reasonably current editions, or undated editions.
The second is to include a copy of the brochure, Our 16 Doctrines (Item #739191). This 18-page brochure contains the full text of the 16 doctrinal statements of the A/G.
Visitors not used to Pentecostal worship may wonder why we clap our hands to music, pray aloud in unison, lift our hands and praise the Lord, or exercise spiritual gifts such as tongues and interpretation in a worship service.
You might include the brochure, Friendship (Item #739501), which includes an article entitled, “What to Expect When You Attend Our Services.” The article offers a general overview of A/G church practices including: music, worship, prayer, ministry to the sick, giving, Bible classes and spiritual gifts. Friendship also provides helpful articles that offer guests tips for making friends and finding the right church.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR SERVICE PIECE
You will want to include a piece that introduces your visitor to opportunities for service. You may already have listed your service and ministries in another place, but in this piece list them again and provide additional information.
Who can attend the activities? When do they take place? Who leads the activity? Who can be telephoned with questions or for further information? How do you join a Sunday school class? How do you apply for or transfer church membership? And be certain to list the church telephone number in this piece.
Finally, most churches also include a pen or pencil with the packet. In some manner the church needs to know who the visitor is. Whether the pastor asks the visitor to fill out a card kept in the pews, or one in the packet, and give it to an usher or place it in the offering, a writing instrument will be helpful to the visitor. It is also a simple keepsake he or she may have of the visit to the church.
If you haven’t been providing visitor packets to your visitors, consider doing so. If you have, examine yours for contents in relation to your purpose. Is it working? Are there changes you should make?
From: www.ag.org web site. July 2008
“This article may not be not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat meat. Throw away the bones.”