Church growth doesn’t happen overnight, and it certainly doesn’t happen in a single day. Easter Sunday, year after year, is the most-attended service(s) of the year. There’s lots of planning and preparing that goes into it. Extra rehearsals, extra prayer, and extra effort. Pastors and church leaders across the world are busy making sure that everything is aligned for a great Sunday.
But, church growth doesn’t happen on a single Sunday.
Imagine for a moment what would happen to your church if every visitor that showed up on Easter Sunday came back the very next Sunday and became a regular part of your church. Wouldn’t that be great?
What I know is that it won’t happen by only having an excellent Sunday morning service. It only happens through a follow-up process that has these four keys:
- Don’t wait. All visitors should be contacted within 48 hours of their visit. If you wait, their experience will not be fresh anymore. Waiting to communicate with them will increase the likelihood that they’ve gotten back into the routine of life and moved on from their visit to your church. Plus, communicating with them soon after their visit shows that you noticed they were there and you care about them. Also, communicating early allows for a system that includes multiple contact points in the weeks and months after a person visits your church, but that’s a post for another day.
- Make it personal. Even if you’re using an automated email or a form letter, be sure that it’s personal. Use their name. Invite them to contact you directly. And use a conversational tone rather than a formal one. Be sure that you’re using inclusive terms and avoiding exclusive words (for example using “the church” rather than “our church”). Another idea is to add a picture to your email signature or to the letter so they can see who’s communicating with them.
- Point them to something. What is their next step? Give them ways to get involved in the life of your church. Invite them to an event that is just for new people. Tell them about your membership class or how to jump into a small group. Be sure to include a link or URL so they can easily RSVP for a group or an event. Visitors that have little or no experience with church can find it confusing to know what they should do next – and it’s our job to answer those questions before they’re even asked. Including this in your follow-up communication will help you get there.
- Close the communication by asking them to do something specific. If it’s a letter or an email (or even a text message!), ask them to take a short 5-question survey about your church and their experience. If it’s a phone call, ask them to find you next Sunday and say hello. Also, you could ask them to let you know how you can pray for them this week.
At the end of the day, the people that visited your church did so for a reason. And our mission as Christians compels us to connect people with God and with others. The best way to do that is to have a solid follow-up plan that moves people from visitors to attenders. A follow-up plan that includes these four keys will help you do just that.