Summer vacations and activities are drawing to a close, and people are settling into their routines. Is your church prepared to get people on board and regain any momentum that was lost during the summer slump?
This is a question that churches ask themselves every fall. In fact, were you aware that September 18 is National Back-to-Church Sunday? Planning to boost energy and involvement is so important, otherwise you’re going to struggle to get back on track before Christmas.
As you put your strategy together, you’re going to want to consider these three groups of people:
1. New Students
If you live in a college town, there are all kinds of students who are new to the area. Make sure they can discover your church! Make a plan to:
- Canvas public areas: Hit up every coffee shop, campus center, laundromat, and public bulletin board with flyers and information about your church. Don’t forget to include your address and service times.
- Send out invitations: Create student-specific invitation cards and give them to anyone who interacts with students on or off campus.
2. Returning Students
Don’t forget the students who attend your church but have been away during the summer! The summer slump is a powerful enemy. It’s easy for them to return and disengage from last year’s routine. Make sure you’re reaching out to them.
- Email them ahead of time: Sending them an email that lets them know their presence is important and they’ve been missed. Make sure to remind them of the service times!
- Plan a kick-off barbecue: If there’s one thing students love, it’s free food. Put together a party to welcome everyone back, and encourage them to bring friends!
- Invitation cards
- A welcome-back Facebook event
- A location, food, and a few volunteer helpers for a barbecue
3. Old Families
The next group you need to wrangle and energize are the families who’ve been running around all summer and are ready to get more involved. You want to inject enough enthusiasm into them upfront to kickstart their spiritual metabolism.
Plan a let’s-get-back-to-it service: You want to spell out the goals for the coming year and kick off new Sunday school classes and homegroups. Once you decide on a date, send out an email or two letting people know all about the service. Make sure you communicate the importance of the service. You’ll also want to encourage them to invite others.
- Facebook event for the service
- An invitation email
- Social media posts leading up to Sunday
- Profile and cover images for social media accounts that correspond to the special service
4. New Families
Families who have moved into the area over the summer are focused on things like getting their kids ready for a new school district. Once school starts, they’re ready to begin thinking about finding a new church.
- Launch with a new sermon series: Think about a topic that will be relatable and practical for visitors, and launch with that. (You could try a series on money, relationships, parenting, or work.)
- Facebook advertising: This is a great time to put some money into Facebook advertising. Canvas your local area and promote the church and your new sermon series.
- Gift baskets for relocators: A lot of realty websites will give you information about homes that have sold in your area, why not put together a small Welcome Team whose ministry is about reaching out to new families with a gift basket? The gift baskets can include:
- A cup or t-shirt from the church
- Gift certificates or coupons from local businesses
- Information about the church
- Invitation cards
- Baked Goods
- You might need to delegate these items:
- Invitation cards promoting the sermon series
- Facebook ad copy and images
- Swag, pamphlets, welcome cards, and other contents for the gift baskets
Focus on the Majors
In all your interactions, make sure that you’re thinking through how you can collect people’s contact information. This ensures that you can reach out to them again.
You also want to promote your church’s app. When people download the app, they have the opportunity to get to know more about your church and ministry. It’s also helpful to get people giving regularly by signing up for recurring giving.
Jumpstart your momentum
While these are all wonderful ways to get things rolling again, one of the greatest things you can do is find ways to stop losing so much momentum in June, July, and August. No matter how tempting it feels, your church needs to resist the temptation to shut everything down and put everything on autopilot during the summer months.
We know you’re eager to increase engagement and get more first- and second-time visitors through your doors. Download the free Definitive Guide To Successful Church Engagement today to learn how!
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