Easter weekend will create one of the best opportunities for your church to connect with new visitors and irregular attendees. That's nothing new.
But riddle us this: In the midst of the planning, preparation and prayer, have you given any thought to ways you can reach those in the margins – not members or regular attendees – after the celebration of Easter is over?
If you haven't, you may miss a huge opportunity to build community and grow your church.
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.
"...have you given any thought to ways you can reach those in the margins after the celebration of Easter is over?"
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 aren't going to miss the new or occasional faces walking through your doors.
Missed part 1? Here you go: The Biggest Sunday: Are You Prepared?
Here are 10 things – some self-explanatory and incredibly simple and some a little more involved – that you can do to ensure more of those Easter guests return to your church, thanks largely in part to some thoughtful planning and preparation on your part.
1. Capture email addresses.
Whether you have a sign-in sheet at the front or ask new guests to fill out a card in the seat back in front of them, find a way to collect a means of continued communication.
2. Encourage everyone to visit your website.
Create a simple QR code-based form where people can sign up for a digital copy of the message. Give them a compelling reason or two to give you their email addresses as a fail-safe for number one above. People don't want more inbox clutter, but this might be your first measurable sign of interest in or need for your church.
3. Present opportunities for generosity.
How people interact with both your church and their money has changed. People don’t carry cash and checks around anymore. Expecting everyone to do so can be a barrier to giving – potentially one that dissuades the giver entirely. Having online and mobile giving options – and broadcasting them – is vital for connecting with your guests.
4. Tell stories about life change.
As a follow-up to number three, remember that people are much more likely to give when you tell them a story about life change. This Easter, highlight a Kingdom impact your church is making. Thank everyone for the generosity that made the story possible. A check or online gift from an inspired first-time visitor is another indicator that someone may be ready to go to a deeper level of engagement with you.
5. Offer an easy path to engagement.
It takes only seven minutes for a first-time visitor to formulate an impression about your church. Seven minutes. Your guests may enjoy their visit, feel welcomed by your team, and feel at home in your church, receive proper tracking, be prompted to tweet something nice about you, and receive proper follow-up – but if they don’t move from guest to committed community member, all this work is for naught.
Make it easy for them to find and get involved with a group while they’re there, maybe by introducing – or ‘matching’ them – with a congregant that has a knack for making people feel immediately at home and comfortable.
6. Offer minimal ministry options.
Churches often feel they have to do a total data dump on people so they find something that interests them. Refrain! Don't present a massive list of ministry opportunities. Give them two or three ideas for how to take the next step. Simple is always better.
7. Perfect the child check-in experience.
Toting kids to a church is hard enough but when you’re new to the church with kids in tow, it can often feel impossible. Make the process simple and painless so returning won’t feel as daunting the next time, especially for newcomers.
This is a great opportunity to provide a positive experience for families who are already stressed about getting to church. Make it easy, quick, and simple. They will be very impressed. And, it's a terrific way to capture contact information!
Seriously. That’s it. Just … smile.
9. Employ a Guest Services Team to welcome people.
You’d be surprised how many people tell us how much they appreciate a friendly face greeting them at the doors and in the lobby. And thankfully, it shouldn’t be too hard to mobilize some warm and cordial volunteers who truly seem to like people.
10. Leverage technology.
Your church management software (ChMS) should easily support almost every strategy listed here. When you see this tool as a critical system to support your processes instead of a digital Rolodex, you will be amazed at the exponential benefits. Thoughtful processes can help you maximize the encounters you'll have with those not already connected to your church.
Once your church has taken the time to prepare for the influx of those who have made the effort to visit or attend your church, it's now your responsibility to acknowledge them and help them take the next steps to become fully engaged members of your congregation. God has moved them to come to you – so make the most of their visit and move them to stay.
There's always a next step:
Volunteers are a precious component of church life. And they can do amazing work to help grow the Kindgom. Download our NEW ebook,"Your Volunteers: Place". It isn’t about staffing a team of random people; it’s about knowing enough about each individual to offer a customized volunteer opportunity to fit their specific interests, skills, passions and gifts.