One of the goals of Awana is to reach kids.
And one of the ways we have always done this is by clubbers inviting their friends to join in on club night fun. As leaders, we want to see those visitors walk in the door and maybe even more important, to see those visitors walks in the door again the following week.
How do we do that? How do we keep visitors coming back week after week until they are no longer visitors?
1. Design your contests to keep new kids returning. Clubbers often bring their friends only to pass a section or to get points for the current contest. Once the visitor comes, the clubber forgets about inviting her back. (Like the two churches who had many kids attending the same Christian school. One week Joey would stay over night at Sammy’s house and go to his Awana with him and the next week they’d trade off. That way both got their sections signed. This, of course, is not the point.)
So, design your contest so the first week a clubber gets so many points for bringing his friend, but he gets double points if the visitor comes back twice and triple points if the visitor comes back a third time. You want the visitor to get in the habit of coming.
2. Remind all your leaders to say “hi” to children and parents as they arrive for club. Sure, sometimes leaders are busy with last minute details, but you can say “hi” as you walk by. Even though you might not know who they are, they know who you are because leaders are wearing uniforms of one type or another and/or are wearing identification badges.
3. Make sure the visitor has someone to show him around. If a child comes with a friend, at least the friend is friendly (we hope), but if a child comes by himself, he can quickly feel lonely not knowing anyone. Assign a friendly clubber to a new kid who is there alone. (You could make a big deal about this and choose a group of kids who are particularly friendly to be the “welcome crew” and on call if a visitor shows up.)
4. Get contact information. If an older child or parent can provide the information: name, address, phone number, email, that’s great. But often visitors walk in with a friend and sometimes getting information out of a bewildered five-year-old is difficult. Do what you can. Talk to the parent of the clubber who brought the friend. Not only do you need information for safety reasons, but also for a follow-up note or email to the parents.
5. Provide a welcome packet. Send visitors home with a brochure describing Awana, a small gift such as a pencil/bookmark and maybe a DVD of the club in action. (If you have a share store, some churches put a few shares in the welcome packet.) This gives parents an idea of where their child has been. You can also provide contact information for a leader, director or commander so parents have a number to call with any questions.
6. Be friendly. When the parent comes to pick the child up, go out of your way to talk to him. Tell him how much you enjoyed having his son and daughter visit and invite the child to come again.
7. Give parents information about future club or church events. “We’d like to invite you to our Family Film Night this Friday in our church auditorium, “ etc.
8. Invite parents to sit in club so they can see first hand what is happening.
9. Make sure parents of your visitors know (this can be included in the take-home welcome packet or a follow-up letter) that your leaders have been through child protection training and have had background checks.
10. Send a follow-up letter to the parents (enclosing a fun “thanks for coming” note to the visitor). Don’t come on too strong, the parents may already attend their own church and they don’t want to feel as if they’re being pressured. Simply say how much you enjoyed having their child at club.