Recently, I had a conversation with a friend about the challenges of getting her kids to church. This friend is the mom of two young kids and one on the way. She makes the parenting thing look pretty simple most of the time, but her kids get bored at church and sometimes put up enough of a struggle on Sunday mornings that the whole family skips church altogether because it’s just easier. Continue reading
If you were to ask pastors how their church attendance is affected during the summer months, most would probably admit to seeing a “summer slump” that can last through Labor Day. It’s not unusual for people to be busier during the summer with camps, vacations, family time, and sleeping in just because they can. These things aren’t necessarily bad, but they
Easter is the highest attended service of the year which means more people are likely to visit your church on this day than any other.
So, what are you doing to prepare? Here are some quick ideas that you can implement in the short time we have left:
- The Front Door– The website is usually a person’s first point of contact. Scan your site and make sure worship times are easy to find. Directions and what to expect (especially for families) should be clear. Have an “I’m New” or “First-Time at [church name]” page where guests can get the basics about their first visit.
- Parking Ministry – With more guests, there’s more traffic, and a need for more places to park. Hospitality begins in the parking lot and our mystery guests rate their overall experience higher in churches with parking ministries.
- More Hands on Deck – Increase your capacity for hospitality by adding more volunteers. If you average 5-10 guests a month, plan on seeing at least triple that at your Easter services, many of which will be families with kids.
Greeting – Add more greeters and a ‘friendly patrol’ to welcome new faces and start conversations before and AFTER the service.
Seating – Plan for overflow. In the weeks leading up to Easter, ask members to prepare by leaving the back and end seats open for guests. Encourage them to attend earlier services since guests are more likely to attend a later service on their first visit. Add more seating and plan to add even more should it become necessary.
Kids Ministry – Many of those new faces you see will be families who won’t know what you offer for kids or where they should take them. That means Kids Ministry needs to ramp up as well to help check kids in, answer questions, and guide families to their destinations.
4. Information – When a guest has the information they need to take next steps, they’re more likely to take them.
Guest Card – Upon arrival, give them the basics. In the back of every seat or inside every bulletin have a guest card that explains where the restrooms, welcome desk, and kid’s ministry are located.
Connect card – Give them a way to leave their contact information and how to leave it. Calling it a “connect card” best communicates why you are asking for this information – to connect with them! Some churches will ask guests to turn it in at the welcome center and receive a gift. Other churches donate to a local charity for each one they receive.
Gift and Ministry Information – Hospitality is a ministry and needs to be treated as such. A gift thanking guests for coming and a well-designed brochure that tells more about the church’s ministries and how to get plugged in leaves a guest feeling important and informed.
Tell them what’s coming next week – A church I attended always followed Easter up with the series “I have a friend who struggles with….[divorce, pornography, etc.]” Attendance always spiked because of the interest these relevant topics would generate.
5. Plan your follow up and see it through – Too many guests in our research report leaving their contact information and never receiving follow up. I cringe every time I read about it. Nothing says that you’re not actually interested the guest coming back than neglecting to follow up with them. The key to follow up is to be intentional about it and don’t wait.
Following up is one of the most important things you can do.
- 24 hours: Send an email, text, or make a phone call thanking them for coming.
- 96 hours: Mail a note inviting them back and a reminder about the upcoming message series.
Easter is important, but you can use these ideas for every service. Be intentional about planning: from the initial welcome through the follow up.
What are some other ideas that you’ve seen implemented before?