We’re coming up on Easter Sunday, one of the most attended worship services of the year. Jesus Christ’s Resurrection defines your church and followers. On April 9th, your church members will gather for a joyous celebration—sanctuaries across the country will be buzzing with hope and happiness.
Will it be as crowded as last year? Honestly, let’s hope not. Let’s pray it’s even better!
For those churches who adopted new technology recently, you’re armed with insights and pathways to reach your worshippers. And if you’re a church that’s still unsure where to start, we’re here to help. The best way to increase church attendance is to start by understanding the metrics.
Read on to learn how to use technology to engage church members, welcome new visitors, and keep them coming back all year long.
The Hard Facts Around Church Attendance
It’s undeniable; the pandemic impacted church attendance everywhere. No matter how big or small, your congregation felt the loss. Yes, they’re returning, but it’s not quite the same. See what the research shows:
- Most church doors are fully open again. And while in-person attendance grew steadily in 2020 and 2021, since 2022, worship attendance has plateaued.
- The plateau may be attributable to more people choosing a hybrid model, attending in-person less but also watching services online.
- Tracking previous regular attendees, Boomers aren’t returning as readily.
- Millennials have shown an increasing interest in attendance, especially among non-white Millennials.
- America’s Black community was especially hard hit by COVID and they are the worshippers returning to in-person attendance most cautiously.
What’s the bright side to the lockdown story? For many churches, the pandemic created an unexpected tech tipping point. Suddenly, staying connected meant everyone, ready or not, needed to embrace new technology.
- Church leaders launched new software to stay connected.
- Worshippers, even the most intimidated by tech, logged on.
- Streaming worship services became, and remain, standard.
- From small groups to Sunday school, church gatherings went virtual.
- Giving went mobile.
Setting Easter Attendance Goals
Looking toward Easter 2024, use the lessons learned from these past few years to create a strong strategy that welcomes returning members and inspires new visitors. A successful outreach strategy begins with understanding all the groups within your community.
Analyzing Easter Attendance For Your Church
The DATA is in the Details
Where you focus your outreach efforts should be informed by your metrics. Use your church management software to dive deeper into the data to understand your visitors’ pathways. All those check-ins, registrations, and donations offer valuable insights on who’s joining you in-person or online—or both!
Understanding these patterns will help you set realistic goals and ways to engage them going forward. The data reveals insights into worshippers’ unique spiritual journeys.
Metrics of Millennials
Research shows Millennial attendance rose in 2022, yet statistically, they’re not attending the same house of worship each week. So where are they going?
Known as ‘hoppers’, this generation has a ‘sample many’ or ‘try before you buy’ mentality. 25% of Millennials attend multiple churches. With this in mind, look closely at your church management software. Tracking those visits, can you cater special outreach messages to this particular group and encourage them to return?
Do you have some exciting Easter ideas for your church? Apps for churches have many ways to connect with members quickly and easily through their smartphones. Take advantage of text messaging to share sermon topics on Sunday mornings. Send visitors a quick poll to learn what appealed to them most about your church. Was it easy childcare check-in? A dynamic calendar of events? When you know what matters most to Millennials, you can serve them better and create a community they want to return to each week.
Gen X Still Hanging in There
True to their personas on social media, they’re resourceful, resilient, and keep a low profile. Since the pandemic, this subset of worshippers has dropped in attendance slightly. But as the steady workhorses of church communities, when they’re active, they’re great role models for younger members. It’s important to understand what they’re seeking so you can re-engage them. A personalized outreach campaign may be exactly what they need to feel like they matter.
Bring Boomers Back!
Although they may have been reliable members a decade ago, many Boomers have left and have yet to return in post-pandemic times. . Re-engaging these members is crucial for building a strong and lasting community. These members have a lifetime’s worth of knowledge, experience, and resources to give back— meaning reconnecting with them provides your congregation with invaluable insight and opportunities for growth. Focus on new ways to re-engage them. Do they have time to join a new service project? What captures their interest in this stage of life?
How to Boost Easter Attendance
Bringing more worshippers to your Easter service really starts when you commit to meeting them where they are, which simply means understanding the lived experiences of your members, right now. It’s about designing strategies that make worship easier.
Digital pathways here to stay
Streaming services are helping members across all demographics stay connected. Although in-person attendance still hasn’t caught up to pre-pandemic numbers, virtual worship has seen an uptick in 2022. It’s important to consider that many people will likely keep some hybrid form of worship. Like hybrid work environments, accepting this as part of the new normal will help you set realistic attendance goals. Your next step should be deciding how to allocate time and resources to support these important worship pathways.
Simplify with smartphones
The pandemic accelerated all forms of contactless transactions, from mobile check-ins to mobile giving. Each touchpoint gives you a closer look at member discipleship.
You can gain insights into what types of projects garner the most or highest one-time giving using church management software. Make automated Easter giving as simple as possible. Take a close look at times of the year, especially at Easter, to connect when people feel most motivated to give generously.
Young parents rely on tech to simplify their everyday lives. With apps for churches, you can provide families with a seamless, safe process to check in and out of the church. Tracking check-in trends helps you anticipate important resource needs for areas like childcare and Sunday school.
Now that most churches are back to pre-pandemic operations, service projects are also ramping up again. Church volunteer scheduling helps organize all your volunteers, from one-time-only special events, to weekly worship service assistance. Bringing young Gen Z and Gen Alpha children into volunteering is a great way to mentor future church leaders.
Retaining Church Goers After Easter
A tremendous amount of careful planning goes into every special Easter service. But there are 51 more Sundays ahead to share God’s word. Stay connected after Easter and foster a strong relationship with your parishioners.
Communication is Key
Having information instantly accessible is expected these days with Google, websites, and social media. A church app makes it easy to put the heart of your ministry in the palm of your hands. From dynamic church brands, including polls and text messages, staying in contact means staying top of mind. Use your social accounts to tag church influencers and relevant hashtags to drive organic traffic. Shares and likes are powerful! Upload those videos and go viral.
Content is King
It’s not enough to simply communicate with your Easter attendees–the content you share is just as important. Take the time to curate content that truly reflects the values of your thriving church and who you’re trying to reach. Consider these questions:
- How are you sharing church news and updates? Are you using engaging visuals?
- Is your leadership offering ongoing thoughtful guidance outside of Sunday sermons?
- Have you analyzed how many people are opening and reading your emails and newsletters? Changing email style and subject lines can make a big difference!
- Identify user personas compiled from your church management software and revise your strategy to reflect those profiles.
Create Memorable Events
Break from the norm and design new events. Consider music, art displays, and performances. Spotlighting member talent builds community and connection.
Easter is Just the Beginning
Easter may be your most attended worship service of the year. You can grow your church attendance and new visitors with thoughtful engagement strategies. Digging into the data to learn as much as you can about your members and visitors will help you deliver God’s message in targeted ways that truly resonate. There is no single way worshippers find Jesus, but learning how they arrive at your doors (or streaming channel) will help you nurture and guide them as they continue on God’s path.
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