**UPDATED: May 7, 2020**
Under normal circumstances, Easter Sunday would create one of the best opportunities for your church to connect with new visitors and biannual attendees. During the current coronavirus crisis, that my changes things some.
However, we believe the impact to visitor numbers is only a matter of scale. You may not have quite as many guests, but chances are, you’ll still have guests. In the midst of the planning, preparation, and prayer leading up to Easter, have you given any thought to ways you can reach your first-time guests and biannual visitors after Easter is over? More importantly, the way you reach your guests after each weekend has potential to increase the number of guests you see week to week!
The time immediately following Easter is when church leaders and pastors should capitalize on their momentum and attendance, opening the front door wide – and closing the back door by inviting those guests back.
And if you don’t, you’re missing a huge opportunity to build community and grow your church.
"...your church is likely going to see a huge surge in visitors, regardless of digital-only services. So, it’s important to be intentional about stewarding everyone who chooses to join you..."
The process of identifying these people used to be a largely manual effort. Ushers would walk the aisles handing out visitor packs and collecting visitor cards. Today, people are more reluctant to give away their information, especially to people they don't know or trust. You have to get creative and develop some new processes if you don’t want to miss the new or occasional faces walking through your doors.
Sean Buchanan authored an ebook on leveraging technology wrote, “Those who attend infrequently will make it a priority to come to church on Easter Sunday. Even those who are skeptical may visit out of curiosity or a sense of obligation to make Mom happy. Whatever their reason, Easter Sunday is a great opportunity to share the Gospel and give people a compelling reason to keep coming back. With a larger crowd comes a diverse group of spiritual backgrounds, preconceived ideas about church, and various personalities.”
Thankfully, your church management software system (ChMS) should easily support your first-time guest and day-to-day processes, affording you the opportunity to learn more about your church and its people, recording the information that our memories can’t – and connect.
Here are some things to consider about your first-time guests to ensure you connect.
1. Newcomers want to learn more about you.
Adrift in a sea of unfamiliar faces in uncharted waters, be sure to share all the different ways newcomers can get to know you and your church that doesn’t involve an enormous congregation in an enormous unfamiliar building.
2. Newcomers may not be ready to make a long-term commitment.
Consider offering a 20-30 minute meet-and-greet with the pastor and a few other key church members. You can include an introductory video and maybe a question-and-answer session.
3. Newcomers need to feel reciprocity.
If first-time guests take the time to complete a connection card, be sure to follow up within a day or two. A simple, personal email thanking them for coming, inviting them back, and sharing the ways they can get involved is a great way to keep the door open.
4. Newcomers need time to acclimate.
While it’s hard to remember to speak in ‘civilian terms’ with your first-time guests, it’s important to recognize that in order to communicate effectively and make them feel welcome, we have to speak in more universal terms that they can understand.
"...you have to get creative and develop some new processes if you don’t want to miss connecting with guests."
All that said, you’ll need rock-solid processes in place to be able to follow-up Download your free copy of with those who’ve chosen your church for Easter. Thoughtful processes can help you maximize the encounters you'll have with those not already connected to your church. If they've made the effort to visit or attend your church, it's now your responsibility to acknowledge them and help them take the next step.
Process Queues are now available on our Lead app, providing a fast and easy way to follow-up with people assigned to you. You'll see their Process Queue profile, where you can quickly contact them, view and leave notes about them, mark them as ‘done,’ and perform a number of other queue-related actions.
You can also scroll through the list of unassigned people in the queues you manage and assign any of those people to yourself or someone else to make sure you know their story and that nobody slips through the cracks.
Your church is going to see a huge surge in first-time visitors so it’s important to be intentional about stewarding everyone who chooses to join you.
Moving first-time Easter Sunday visitors to fully engaged members should always be your goal – and your service and stewardship can help keep them there every other Sunday of the year.