Going On Faith
Published March 15, 2016
Out of the thousand members of your church, maybe 30 will sign up for your latest dynamic trip to the Holy Land. Churches can have a wide range of members, but whatever the number, the percentage of people able to travel will be significantly smaller than the total amount.
So the question becomes: How do you diversify your offerings enough to attract the attention of these other church members?
Non-travel activities, such as guest speakers and themed events, gives members a chance to involve themselves in your church group without paying a large sum of money. It allows someone who wouldn’t glance twice at a trip advertisement, a chance to interact with your group, get to know other church members they might one day travel with and increases loyalty to the church itself.
So that random member who attended a lecture on a local nonprofit, might eventually turn into one of the 30 who fly with you to Jerusalem.
To begin, first come up with some ideas for guest speakers that would interest your church members. Having a religious focus for some makes sense, such as talks from missionaries, volunteer organizers, religious historians or religious leaders.
But many churches also offer non-religious lectures that steer more to the practical side, among them money management, gardening and health topics. This expands the purpose of your group to attract a wider audience.
Once you’ve found all the speakers that you can think of, you can reach out for more ideas at your local convention and visitors bureau (CVB). CVB organizations contain a plethora of information on people that could present innovative, educational or outside-the-box talks.
For example, they could direct you to a local horse whisperer, an Asian elephant specialist from the local zoo or a master gardener at an elegant estate.
If you desired, you could even tie your guest speakers to your next trip. This builds excitement from members already signed up and might peak the interest of members who hadn’t thought about it before.
A group scheduled to tour historic churches of Italy could have a local art historian present a talk on religious symbolism in medieval art with direct mentions to places the group will soon tour.
Who doesn’t love a party? Themed preview parties have always been a great way to host an event related to travel. You can still schedule a guest speaker for the event to make sure members know it is for everyone.
For example, a Montana Dude Ranch preview party could include Western outfits, Western party favors, clips from Western movies and a speaker on frontier life in the Wild West from a local faculty member. Preview parties require enthusiasm and creativity to sell the concept to church members.
You also don’t have to book a traditional speaker. A concert related to a future trip combined with a themed party will also attract attendees.
A concert from a local bluesman could make a great tie-in for a future tour of Mississippi.
You could come up with examples all day. The important thing is to try different guest speakers and events and see what your church members respond to most.