Multisite Monday – The Magical Lanyard

So technically there’s nothing magical about the VIP lanyard that eKidz gives to every first-time guest during that initial check-in process, but what happens as a result is nothing short of a Diagon Alley or Hogwarts phenomenon.

It was designed for children, ages 3 and up, and serves four distinct purposes.

1 – The lanyard is a 4″ by 4″ square card printed with the VIP branding and secured by black plastic lacing. It’s bulky enough to grab the attention of staff and volunteers. It lets everyone know this particular child is a first-time guest and thus given extra attention, high fives, and dozens of warm greetings. It’s enough to make even the shiest of kids feel welcome and accepted.

2 – Kids are encouraged to take their lanyard and head to the information area to receive their First-Time Guest Gift, a custom slap bracelet branded with the eKidz logo. If kids head to the information area, parents will also. It’s a great strategy to engage with a first-time family, answer questions, and obtain feedback.

3 – Kids are encouraged to bring the lanyard back the next time they visit to receive their Second-Time Guest Gift, a custom glow-in-the-dark eKidz t-shirt. You may be thinking, “Aren’t you bribing them to come back?” Yes, that’s exactly the point. We want kids to come back and if a secondary prize achieves that mission, I’m okay with it.

4 – In large group, a kid wearing the VIP lanyard is automatically given bonus points for the game. Those points are “just enough” to give his or her team the edge over all other competitors to ensure a win. Yes…we rig the game. Remember, the goal is to create the best possible experience so kids will want to come back. In a kid’s mind, is there anything better than winning? Here’s where the magic happens. Regularly attending kids know that to win the game, they need a first-time guest on their team. That means as soon as a lanyard wearing child walks in the door, every kid in the room wants him or her on their team. Instant camaraderie. Immediate acceptance and belonging.

I LOVE an intentional first-time guest strategy, and my favorite part of the VIP process in eKidz at Elevation is the lanyard. In a multsite model, it’s important to synch your systems so that each guest at every location has the same experience and receives the same gifts.

Whatever your first-time guest process, it should serve to achieve the following.

  • It needs to make your guests feel special, as if you were waiting on them and are now celebrating their arrival.
  • It should have perceived value so there is incentive to return.
  • It needs to simplify the check-in process for subsequent visits.
  • It must, ultimately, help to establish a connection between their family and your ministry.

I hope you’ll join me again next Multisite Monday as we talk about family parking, umbrellas, and start times.

Jess Bealer

For additional Multisite Monday articles, click here.

Jessica Bealer has been leading children’s ministry for 17 years. The last five years have been spent overseeing standards, systems, staffing and atmosphere for the children’s ministry of Elevation Church. She has overseen the launch of nearly twenty locations, and is considered a specialist in kidmin multisite. Jessica is a mother of four and published author. She is married to Frank, the CEO of Phase Family Centers and Executive Director of Leadership Development at Orange. Together they are the founders of FamilyMinistry.Church.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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4 thoughts on “Multisite Monday – The Magical Lanyard

  1. I love this post! I have some questions on how some of this works practically:
    1. Do all children wear lanyards or just guests? We’ve use lanyards for all kids before but they tend to be taken off, twirled around, and get sucked on… all of which are distracting &/or disgusting. So we don’t use them. We now use stickers printed at check in.
    2. If other kids don’t have lanyards, do you let the guest kids know this is different upfront? For example, saying something like: we’ve got a special lanyard for you so our leaders can make sure they keep you in the know of what is going on since this is your first visit… or something similar? This doesn’t make them feel different or singled out?
    3. The information area the kids take their lanyard to (and take their parents to), is this before or after church service (we only have one Sunday morning service at this time) & in the lobby or a separate room?
    4. Regarding extra points for the game, what happens when you have several first time guests? Do they all end up on the same team so that team wins?

    • Awesome! So glad it was helpful. I’ll jump right in and answer your questions.
      1. Just First Time Guests get lanyards. They are specifically designed to make the VIP (First Time Guest) Experience a great one.
      2. I don’t believe it makes them feel singled out. Kids are all about prizes and feeling special and unique.
      3. In the lobby. It’s all the same place. The kids gifts and the parents / adults gifts are all in the same location. Under the big orange tent inside the lobby or just outside the doors (depending on the location.)
      4. All first time guests get points. There are normally a couple winners, but the regular attending kids know that to even have a shot, they need to get a first time guest on their team. In a church that sees multiple first time guests during each experience, it would be impossible for each one to win. So it doesn’t guarantee that every child will win, but the point is to help them create camaraderie from the very beginning with teammates.
      Hope this answers your questions!