Is your church visitor gift a dried up ink pen and a piece of cardboard?
Say it ain’t so!
If you’ve been around for awhile and visited enough churches, you’ve probably seen some pretty lame church visitor “gifts.”
However, you’ve probably seen some really nice ones too – the kind that make you think “wow, that’s creative” or “cool, they put some thought into that.”
The goal of a gift is not to bribe or pay off a church visitor. No amount of “awesome stuff” can make up for shortcomings in the areas that matter most.
Is our church kind? Inviting? Inclusive? Do we show the love of Christ?
Yet, generosity matters. As you interact with the first time visitors in your church, let me encourage you to invest some time and money into a first class church visitor gift. Do something memorable, unique, and fun!
Here are a few ideas I’ve seen others implement. Consider them in your quest to give great gifts!
1. Food Items
This is the classic, go-to church visitor gift. While food items are great, there are a few cautions to consider.
Food allergies and distrusts currently range from uneasiness to cibophobia (it’s a real thing, check it out). These have brought the days of “Aunt B’s homemade fudge” to an unfortunate demise.
If you do take the food route, consider store-bought delicacies such as:
- jams & jellies
- hot cocoa mix
- local specialty food items
2. Mugs & Cups
While these can be a bit hokie, they can also be really nice if done correctly. Don’t opt for grandpa’s dollar store mug.
A modern travel mug or decorative ceramic with your church branding can be a great church visitor gift. A quality cold cup with a threaded lid can be a nice option as well.
Try filling the mug with gourmet coffee samples, hot cocoa mix, or candy to take it over the top!
3. Gift Cards
Another classic offering, gift cards are easy to purchase, manage, and have a long shelf life.
Make sure you have gift cards that would appeal to numerous age groups and interests. Tactfully allowing the visitor to choose from a number of different options would help ensure you get a good match!
Gift card types could range from restaurants, cafes, beverages, online shopping, gas cards, and more.
4. Popcorn & Movie Night
I recently heard of a church that purchases Redbox movie rental codes in bulk, then offers a nice printed card with one of the codes handwritten on it.
They give this along with a bag (or box) of microwave popcorn to first-time visitors, effectively treating them to a “night in.” (example: Living Waters Lutheran Church)
While it may be tempting to call this a “Family Movie Night,” it’s probably best to avoid this terminology since many visitors may be singles – just use good discretion!
5. Community Cause Donations
People like to know they are making a difference. Some churches are simply making a donation to a local charity or worthy cause “in the name of” every first-time visitor in attendance.
This can be a fantastic way to have an impact in your community as well as reveal a heart of generosity to that first time guest.
Just make sure they know you are doing this, and if there is any way to let them choose from a selection of causes or charities to which the donation will be made, that would be even better!
6. Sack Packs or Carry Bags
Most any item that can be used functionally in everyday life is a great consideration for a church visitor gift.
A sack pack or carry bag is one such item! A sack pack is simply a lightweight backpack without all of the pockets and shoulder straps. If it’s well made, it’s a great option to take to the gym, work, or school.
Whenever you’re considering a functional item like this, here’s a suggestion I want to point out:
Include your church logo or branding on the piece by all means, but don’t make it the focal point.
That first time visitor is probably not sold on your church yet. They are still feeling it out.
Sending them home with a sack pack or other item emblazoned with your huge church name and logo … well, they may not be ready to promote that yet.
Alternatively, come up with a scripture verse or an encouraging phrase that could be the focal point of the piece, and let your church branding take a back seat.
From the example below, which sack pack would be more likely to be carried to the gym by a church visitor?
What’s better, a travel mug with your huge logo that never makes it out of the cupboard, or a travel mug that commutes every day to work with an encouraging reminder?
With several states now banning or charging for plastic shopping bags, a quality made shopping bag can also be a useful gift.
7. Music Recordings
This certainly would not be for everyone, but I’ve heard of well-established musical churches that have made professional recordings of their most requested songs, and given the CDs away as gifts.
Again, this would have to be a right fit for your church and community, but if the dynamics are right it can be a memorable gift that ministers to people far beyond your church walls.
As CDs become increasingly rarer, you may even consider providing a free music download link instead, or in addition to the physical CD.
This is another classic church visitor gift that has been used for many years.
Paper books aren’t for everyone, so if there is a way you can offer an eBook download, Amazon Kindle credit, or similar digital copy, you may be able to appeal in an even greater way to a larger pool of preferences.
Make sure your book selection is encouraging, challenging, and relative to your audience. Make sure it’s gospel-rich!
9. Local Items
Local attraction tickets such as water parks, theme parks, zoos, museums, or other venues can be a great way to give that first time visitor or family a much-needed break from life’s routine.
One thing to note here is that you will need to use discernment when deciding on a local attraction gift.
A first time visitor that is just passing through your area may not be able to take advantage of the opportunity. Be sure to have another option available for them!
One way to aid in this is to use local redemption items only in follow-up correspondence to be sure they are relevant.
If your church is in California, but that visitor card shows a mailing address of Deleware, the San Diego Zoo may not be the best church visitor gift choice!
Also, if you can work out a financial arrangement with that local attraction to charge you only for tickets or certificates that are actually redeemed, it can be a great way to stretch your ministry dollars even further.
Not everyone will take advantage of your gift, so if you have purchased the tickets outright and they are discarded or never used, your investment may never be fully realized.
10. Oil Change Coupon
I’ve heard of churches who will provide an oil change coupon as a church visitor gift.
The great thing about this is that it is relevant to almost everyone. Unless they are driving an electric car, they have a vehicle that needs an oil change sooner or later.
When the need arises, they’ll be thinking about your church as they cash in that coupon!
Again, if there is a way to have an account with a local auto shop that will bill you only for coupons that are actually redeemed, it can be extremely helpful in the stewardship of your church funds.
It can also help you gauge whether or not people are actually utilizing it and be able to make adjustments accordingly.
If your budget allows, use seasonal variations on your items. Nothing like a bright spring or summer-oriented item to bring a smile in the summer months, and a cozy holiday-oriented item to deliver joy in the winter season.
If you’ve been giving away the same old thing for years, change it up. Variety is the spice of life!
What first-time church visitor gift has worked well for your church? What tips or potential obstacles can you share in regard to this topic? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.
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