Every pastor knows that Easter and Christmas are two Sundays that are most likely to attract the unchurched and the de-churched to attend. You probably have given thought to your Easter services already, since we’re just a few weeks away.
Between now and Easter you’ll probably brainstorm ideas, decorate the sanctuary, rehearse special music or programs, recruit prayer warriors, and pray God does something great.
But have you built systems to capture what God does? Or will your guests who walk through your door that Sunday also walk back out until next Easter? What can you do to keep from wasting the big day? Here are four ideas you need to think about in advance:
1. Capture their information.
As I’ve written before, one of the biggest regrets I have about some of my early outreach efforts, was that I didn’t know the power of harvesting information. Without the ability to continue the conversation, those one-time guests… slip through your fingers. One of the best ways to show concern and care is to get someone’s info and keep the conversation going. When you get someone’s info, you’re practicing what Seth Godin calls Permission Marketing. It’s the permission to continue the conversation, to build trust. Whether it’s a pastoral visit, a text, a phone call, or a personal note, you’re working on the relationship.
And if you’re going to keep working on it, the core of a guest follow-up strategy is your connection card.
2. Give them something to come back for.
I know that God must draw them to Jesus, but He may want to use your plan to do it! So plan to give them every reason to come back! For example:
- Start a new series on Easter, or the Sunday after, and announce it on Easter.
- Have promotional materials available for that next series.
- Schedule a church dinner the following week.
- Do a 30-day Church Attendance Challenge.
This is going to take pre-planning. Look over the graphic designs (paid and free) on CreationSwap.com. Get someone to design a postcard or series graphic for you on Fiverr. Get it printed up in advance with GotPrint.com or VistaPrint.com.
3. Follow up on them intentionally.
What kind of contact do you have with your first-time guests through the week after they visit? For many churches, the basic plan is, “Give them a generic pencil, and tell them we hope they come back soon.”
You’re going to need a more intentional, on-purpose plan. How about one that…
- Captures their information consistently.
- Follows up with multiple touches – email, letter, gift, phone call, text
- Tracks what you’ve done and keeps people from getting “lost”
- Helps you follow up for four straight weeks, whether they return or not!
4. Have something ready for those who decide to follow Jesus.
This is something I used to do better. Lately, I’ve dropped the ball, and it’s time for me to pick it back and up and run. So I’m in the process of re-working our New Believer Packet. When I’m done, it will include:
- A Bible in a readable translation (not everyone has one!)
- A letter from the pastor
- An encouraging message on DVD
- A helpful booklet on getting started as a Christian
It doesn’t have to be perfect. But you should have a plan!
If you believe that God is going to answer your prayers and send the rain, shouldn’t you bring an umbrella?