5 low-prep last minute ways to WOW your guests this Easter

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Chip and Dan Health in The Power of Moments talk about a little boy who lost his stuffed giraffe "Joshie" in the family vacation at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. They returned home without Joshie to the little boys dismay, but his dad got a phone call from the resort shortly after their return saying they found it and would mail the giraffe overnight to them giraffe. The dad then asked for a special favor: "Could you pose Joshie on the chaise lounge by the pool and take a picture of him and text it to me so my son can see that Joshie is OK and had fun on his vacation too?"

That's where things went off-script and the WOW-Factor spontaneously kicked in.

The employees at the resort went a little nuts and had more fun then they expected to taking Joshiie's photo. They took his photo by the pool with a drink, on the beach sunbathing, at the spa getting a massage, sitting at a booth in a fine restaurant. As it turned out, Joshie had a better vacation than the family did. So Joshie could share it with the boy, the staff at the Ritz had a photo book made to commemorate Joshie's adventures. What a momento of the vacation, comfort to the boy, and what a WOW for a family that will undoubtedly remember the Ritz as a provider of experiences they would like to repeat when on vacation.

 Shelly Hall, our Director of Guest Services at Eastside Christian Church

Shelly Hall, our Director of Guest Services at Eastside Christian Church

There’s a person on our staff team at church who helps volunteers provide these kinds of WOW experiences for guests during our Easter services each year. Her name is Shelly Hall and she oversees Guest Services at the church I serve (Eastside). She is the most dedicated, hospitable, above and beyond WOW-Factor provider I know. When I asked her this week what she and her team do for our guests at Easter that create Positive Unexpected Relational Experiences (P.U.R.E.), this is what she told me:

1. Privately offering a branded fleece blanket for someone cold in your auditorium. 

As you know, the perfect temperature for your auditorium can be a matter of debate. Some people are always hot (guys), and some people are always cold (gals). Younger people tend to be more tolerant of temperature, and older people have a harder time. On weekends like Easter, Shelley and her team look for older people who look like they are cold and offer them a swag item: an Eastside branded fleece blanket. We get them for around $4 a piece (Click here to order your own for your church by email). They bring them over and spread them out on their lap and in some cases, just let them take the blanket home. It leaves a great impression where otherwise, the temperature might be the most memorable factor of their time with us.

2. Offering a comp card to families with an inconsolable child. 

Sometimes guests come in the form of a family with infant or toddlers who have parents who are not ready to hand them over to people in your children's ministry that they do not know, especially if they have never been to a church before. This can result in inconsolable young children in a new environment not designed for them, becoming very distracting to other guests, worshippers and their own parents. When this happens, especially on big weekends like Easter, Shelly and her team invite the family to come with them when their children become upset. Once outside the auditorium, she invites them to go into our Family Room where they can watch the service without worrying about distracting others.

But then, a new WOW comes in. She gives them a "comp card" that will give them a meal for their whole family at our Cafe. Even if they decide to leave instead of try our Family Room, many just go to the Cafe and hang out, redeeming the moment. One secret shopper with small kids said that she and her husband (who usually checks the kids out of children’s ministry programs 5 minutes early when they visit churches so they can bolt) stayed with the family for 30 to 40 minutes in the cafe because of 2 factors: 1) Plenty of tables with ample seating so it is easy to find an empty table where the whole family can sit together and 2) A variety of food that fits the tastes and needs of all family members of all ages  The service is visible on TV at the cafe too if they choose not to take advantage of the Family Room.

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3. Having a mobile cashier ready for long lines in your Cafe.

 On Easter, lines get long in our cafe   Most people just want coffee, pastries or refrigerated items. If so, we have a self service coffee bar with all the pastries and cold snacks and drinks available so they can just skip the line and proceed to to cashier.

if they want something hot or a specialty coffee drink on Easter, an extra volunteer takes the iPad with a credit card swipe on it and goes to people in line, takes their order and has them pay for it so that they can receive their order faster and skip the cashier  .

4. Offering free donuts and/or coffee just inside the entrance.

Easter has a tone of celebration and expectation that is all it’s own. So at these services, we have free donuts, sometimes even free coffee to take into the service. The smell greets you first-thing along with a friendly volunteer. Nothing says “He is Risen” like a caffeine jolt or sugar high when you get to worship.  

5. Provide sticker books for children sitting in front rows. 

Available inexpensively from places like Oriental Trading Company or even Amazon for quick delivery, sticker books are the perfect preventative for disruptions from restless kids in the front sections of your auditorium on Easter. They can be Easter themed, and keep children who might otherwise become distracting during adult worship entertained. It is a welcomed surprise to a child coming to Easter as well as to their parents. 

These are just 5 ideas from a passing conversation with Shelly Hall in the threshold of my office last week about pleasantly surprising guests on Easter. The best thing about it is I didn’t know about any of them except the free donuts (because I would eat one on my way in too). Why wouldn’t I know? Because Shelly and her team have permission to WOW guests and use their resources and hospitable natures to make this happen spontaneously as needed and opportunities arise. There is no Blanket Ministry or Sticker Book Ministry at our church. There are just people like Shelly and her teams of Change Makers (what we call our volunteer community) who have permission to WOW. 

They love to do it and as a result, our guests love to return on future weekends to take next steps in their spiritual journeys. 

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  • Do your teams engaging guests this Easter have permission and vision to WOW them? How? To what degree? What stories describe what that looks like?
  • What are 3 low budget/low prep ways that you could WOW guest this Easter? How can you evaluate the results? 
  • What are some moderate prep/moderate budget WOW options for guests that you could prepare your teams to deliver at a future big weekend? (Think Mother’s Day, Fall Kickoff, Christmas, Next Easter).
Greg CurtisComment