Guest Article: 9 Questions for Retaining your Easter Crowd

EasterLife

As Easter is not too far away, what are you doing to help your church visitors and invited guests to come back the following week?

The following article is from a friend of this ministry, Gary Rohrmayer, who writes at YourJourneyBlog.

Read on for what Gary shares.

To read the development of each of the subpoints, visit the original article on Easter outreach here.


Easter is coming! Are you ready? 

You are working hard at having an explosive Easter, your largest Resurrection Sunday in the history of your church…but are you prepared to keep that crowd?

How do you plan to keep your Easter crowd coming back again and again?

When you think in the terms of retaining the crowd God gives you remember these three words: Assimilation. Transformation. Mobilization.

  • Assimilating them into the life of the church relationally.
  • Exposing them to the Transforming power of the gospel of Jesus.
  • Mobilizing them into the mission field God has placed them in.

When you think of these words you must break them down into key steps for the individual. What are you asking them to do?

  • Assimilation – Making a commitment to relationships within the church.
  • Transformation – Making a commitment to Christ as their Risen Lord and Holy Savior.
  • Mobilization – Making a commitment to living the mission of Jesus.

These nine questions will assist you in evaluating your retention plan.

  1. How will you train your people to be inviters, bringers and also includers?
  2. How will you prepare you people to be a welcoming and connecting church?
  3. How will you make your visitors feel like guests?
  4. How will you identify your first time guests?
  5. How will you ask them to respond to what they experienced in the worship service?
  6. What will you do to follow up your guests within 36 hours of their visit?
  7. What are the next steps that you will offer people to take?
  8. What will you do in next 30 days?
  9. How will you measure the effectiveness of your retention process?

I believe the future of our churches is in the harvest. The potential of future servants, future leaders, future inviters, future contributors, future staff, future elders and even future pastors are waiting in the guests we welcome today. If churches believe this then they will treat every guest like a superstar with VIP treatment.

 

Another Church Invitation Video

This entry is part 10 of 10 in the series Church Invitations

I really like this church invitation video.

I’ve used it several times in various conferences.  Always gets a great laugh when the punch line is revealed.

While it’s free on YouTube, you should really buy the rights to use it from SermonSpice, like I did.

Honor the creators of this video with buying it.

Feed readers will need to click through to see the video.

 

Get More Church Invitations: Relevant Sermons

This entry is part 7 of 10 in the series Church Invitations

How preaching leads to more church invitationsRecently, I was asked via Ask EvangelismCoach about ways to increase the number of invitations to church that members give to their network of friends.

Review these posts to get on board with some of the answers

  1. More church invitations: Friends and Family
  2. Get More Church Invitations: Prayer
  3. I want you to come to my church

Today, I want to add number 4.

Understandable and Relevant Sermons

The preached sermon is the focus of our worship gatherings.

If you are the pastor, take a review of your sermons.

a. Are your sermons simple to understand?

In other words, will my friend understand the sermon?

Have you explained theological terms in plain language?

Are you keeping the theology in the textbook, but making theology accessible to people who may not understand?

I think some modern preachers do this well.  I listen to podcasts from Andy Stanley, David Jeremiah, Tim Keller.  These men explain theological terms and concepts in words that are easy to understand.

In the church we are currently visiting, the preaching pastor does this well as he has been teaching on core doctrines of the church.

In the church we are helping plant, our teaching pastor does this as well as he connects theology with real life.

I’ve also listened to some sermons that felt like doctoral dissertations, full of seminary language, full of theological language, and full of concepts that really don’t make sense outside of Christian circles.

My preaching professor once said something to the effect that sermon preparation is digging in the mine, but the sermon is the cleaned up jewel that is easy to see. I’ve always kept that in mind as I strive to keep my sermons simple to understand.

Jesus taught with simple illustrations that were grounded in real life. His stories were simple, but left the listener with profound stirrings and thoughts.

If your members find that your sermons are simple to understand, you make those sermons accessible to their friends.

You want your church members to say “My friend needs to hear this.”

b. Are your sermons relevant?

In other words, will my friend get something out of the sermon that applies to their life?

Or are your sermons so disconnected from real life, it’s just a black hole of information that serves little purpose?

I’ve been in churches where tight theology is more important than relevance.

I’ve visited churches where sermons were educational exercises in university level thinking about economics.

I’ve heard sermons that were running commentary on current events and arguments over which presidential candidate should be elected.

I’ve heard sermons on spiritual warfare that would freak-out a non-Christian who is exploring faith.

Is your sermon applicable to real life situations that my friend might benefit from?

This is where sermon series on personal finance, marriage, relationships, and other life topics are a good source of a preaching material.

Even for those who favor expository verse by verse preaching need to make the effort to connect their sermon points to real life, either in application or illustration.

If your members find that your preaching connects the word of God to real life situations, you’ll find your church members regularly thinking “My friend needs to hear this too.”

c.  Are your sermons accessible?

It used to be that sermons were recorded to cassettes and cds, copied, and then passed around.

In today’s technology enviornment, there is no reason you cannot put your sermons on your church website for easy sharing.

If you are still using cassettes or not recording them at all, consider this video:

Resources for easy sermon capture:

There are plenty of benefits of recording and putting your sermons as an MP3 at your website.

  • Your members can get into the archive at any time and listen via their computer or download it to a device.
  • The links to the sermon audio can be emailed and shared in social networks.
  • Your members who are out of town can listen to the sermon on-line.
  • Your members who have moved away can still hear your sermons online or through their downloads
  • Visitors can catch up on prior sermons online in the series.
  • Church Visitors can get a sample of your preaching style.
  • The Word of God is distributed and God can use it wherever people choose to listen.
  • Your archives are on-line for 24 hour global access.
  • No more additions to a clumsy tape storage system.

With sermon recording now this easy and inexpensive, perhaps it’s time to start getting the Word back out there with some low cost recorders.

Your Next Steps to Sermons that attract visitors

As you prepare your sermons, think about the unchurched person who will be visiting this Sunday and ask yourself, what might you need to explain better for them.

Find ways to start getting your sermons online and accessible in other ways than just showing up on Sundays.

Growing an Engaged Church

Helping church members invite their friends is one of the side effects of an engaged church, as Albert Winesman wrote Growing an Engaged Church.

The basic question of his  book is addressed on the jacket:

What would a church look like if members of its congregation were 13 times more likely to have invited someone to participate in the church in the past month?

Or if they were three times as satisfied with their lives, or spent two hours per week serving the community?

Based on solid research by The Gallup Organization, Growing an Engaged Church appeals to both Protestant and Catholic clergy and lay leaders who are looking to create this kind of change — a way to be the church instead of just “doing church.”

Winesman states the engagement problem from the perspective of a church visitor:

“People with God-sized holes in their lives show up, hoping beyond hope to get just a portion of that hole filled. But many of them walk away still carrying the void, and are more discouraged than when they first came.”

In his opening chapter, he tells the fictional story of a couple that has moved from one town to another.  In this case, they used to be involved in a congregation in their home town, but now have to find a new church due to a relocation.  He describes their struggle to connect with a church and get re-engaged again.

At the end of the day, this couple simply settles for a church, rather than find one that gets them excited.

What does it take to increase the sense of engagement?

Here are some of his findings:

  1. Feeling welcomed – “Am I valued?” and “Can I make a meaningful contribution?”
  2. The value of membership – Does the commitment required for membership reflect the value placed on membership?
  3. Emotions do matter – Engagement is  how one feels about their church.  For the bond to have optimum strength, it must go beyond just the worship service or Mass.

Wisemann spends time discussing various ways to increase these and 9 other factors in Growing an Engaged Church.  You’ll need to get your copy to find ways grow these 12 factors of an engaged church.  There are too many to list here and is not quite the point of this post.

How does engagement affect invitations to church?

“Those who are engaged are more than 10 times (64% to 6%) more likely than those who are actively disengaged to strongly agree that they have invited someone to participate in their congregation in the previous month.”  (Tweet this)

Not-engaged congregants are part of the “crowd,” those who attend regularly but are perhaps more socially connected to the community rather than emotionally and rationally committed.

The disengaged “give less, serve less, and invite less” (p 68) and are often very satisfied with their church simply for what it does
provide to them.

Put simply, members who are feel engaged with the church are more likely to invite their friends.

Our own temporary situation

As I read Growing an Engaged Church, I found myself saying “yes” a whole lot to his assertions and discoveries.

We are on a temporary assignment for four months that requires us live away from our home and church planting ministry.

We picked a local church and want to get involved, but we have found it hard to get connected or engaged two months into the process.

Our kids are doing fine connecting with the youth group.  In fact, they’ve already started inviting their new school mates to their youth group.

But as adults, we are still struggling with engagement –

  • Where can we fit?
  • Is there a place for us?
  • Where can we serve?
  • Where can we do something meaningful during our short time here?

Since we are not really engaged in the life of this church yet, our desire to invite others to join us at this church is not quite strong enough.

There is no compelling reason for me to invite friends or family to this church yet – we ourselves don’t have a place or enough emotional connection to the church.

Don’t misunderstand me however.  I am sure the church has great programs and people have deep relationships.  The church is growing at a steady pace.

My point here is that we are not yet sufficiently engaged with the life of this congregation to feel enthusiastic about inviting people to join us.

Suppose I am asked:

“Why should I go to church with you?  What’s the point of giving up what I normally do on Sunday?”

I don’t have an answer to that question yet.

Get your own copy of Growing an Engaged Church from Amazon (affiliate link).

I want you to come to my church

This entry is part 6 of 10 in the series Church Invitations

how to get more invitations to churchRecently, I’ve been asked via Ask EvangelismCoach about ways to increase the number of invitations to church that members give to their network of friends.

Review these posts to get on board with some of the answers

  1. More church invitations: Friends and Family
  2. Get More Church Invitations: Prayer

Today, I add number 3

3. Church members are proud of their church.

Are your members proud of their church?

This was a question that came out of a coaching session I gave to a pastor looking to increase the number of invitations that church members give.

What might that look like?

Here are a few we brainstormed:

  • A sense of ownership of the ministry of the church.
  • A confidence that sermons would be understood by their friends.
  • Joy that their church is actively involved in blessing their community.
  • Confidence that the Sunday morning experience will not be embarrassing.
  • A deep sense of personal satisfaction in service, as well as giving and receiving.

When there is joy and an emotional connection, people may be more willing to invite their friends and family to church.

Are your church members embarrassed by their own church?

I’ve attended some churches as a visitor that were disturbingly embarrassing.

  • Singer and musicians were off tempo.
  • The choir and organ were out of tune.
  • The bulletin and announcement quality was poor.
  • The contemporary worship musicians failed to smile.
  • Preaching topics that had no relevance to my friend’s spiritual needs.
  • Public prayers were so theologically loaded that I needed a dictionary.

You might get the idea.

I actually did a temporary assignment for 6 months as a pastor of dying church with such problems.  They had some big ticket items to fix as well like out of date decorating and colors, but there were plenty of fixable things that could be done on a low budget as well as free.

Even as the temporary pastor, I didn’t want to invite people to this church – it was embarrassing.

The one person I did invite was a guest vocalist, and I felt the need to apologize to her for the experience she was about to have.

Areas to review

Maybe it’s time to review your Sunday service and look for potential sources of embarrassment and make steps to start addressing those.

Maybe it’s time to review your on-ramps for newcomers to your church to start building meaningful relationships.

Maybe it’s time to review your ministry out in the community that adds a sense of pride and value to volunteers and gives your church members a sense of contribution and connection.

Let me ask you this?

What might you be able to do to increase the sense of pride in your congreagtion that might ramp up the number of personal invitations to church?

Coaching Call

Do you want to discuss your where your personal invitation momentum is stuck?  I offer a coaching call where I spend time on the phone with you or your committee, up to 90 minutes, where I help you trouble shoot and develop some action plans.    Read more about that hospitality coaching here.