With Easter just around the corner, churches all around the world are putting the final touches to their Easter prep, it's the calm before the storm – a ‘storm’ that LifeWay Research says is the largest attendance weekend for 93 percent of churches.
But Easter is only the beginning.
The time immediately following Easter is when church leaders and pastors should capitalize on their momentum and attendance, opening the front door wide – and closing the back door by inviting those guests back.
POP QUIZ: How long does it take for a first-time visitor to formulate an impression about your church?
That’s it. That’s all you get. So in his new ebook, ‘An Introvert's Guide to Easter: How Mobile Technology Connects People, Sean Buchanan offers strategies to simplify church communication and follow-up by leveraging technology.
In his ebook, Buchanan says, “Those who attend infrequently will make it a priority to come to church on Easter Sunday. Even those who are skeptical may visit out of curiosity or a sense of obligation to make Mom happy. Whatever their reason, Easter Sunday is a great opportunity to share the Gospel and give people a compelling reason to keep coming back. With a larger crowd comes a diverse group of spiritual backgrounds, preconceived ideas about church, and various personalities.”
So what can church leaders and pastors do to not only cater to the diverse spiritual backgrounds while still speaking to both introverts and extroverts alike?
Because contrary to the title of his ebook, Buchanan’s approach to catering to introverts unpacks in application quite nicely for the larger, more gregarious personalities, too.
And your church management software system (ChMS) should easily support your first-time guest and day-to-day processes.
Technology affords us the opportunity to learn more about our churches and our people – and to record the information that our memories can’t.
So we’ve carefully unpacked all the technology-driven approaches in Buchanan's ebook and applied them to all first-time guests – introverts and extroverts – because anyone can easily get overwhelmed and lost in the shuffle of being the new kid on the block.
1. Newcomers want to learn more about you.
Adrift in a sea of unfamiliar faces in uncharted waters, it’s easy for a first-time guest to feel swept away by sensory and social overload. Be sure to share all the different ways newcomers can get to know you and your church that doesn’t involve an enormous congregation in an enormous building.
You can even direct them to your website or mobile app which will allow everyone – not just newcomers – to search all the ways they can get involved on their own time and from the comfort and privacy of their mobile device.
2. Newcomers may not be ready to make a long-term commitment.
Rather than inviting first-time guests to join a weeks-long orientation requiring a much bigger commitment than they may be willing to make, consider offering a 20-30 minute meet-and-greet with the pastor and a few other key church members. You can include an introductory video and maybe a question-and-answer session.
You can also consider including an ‘Ask the Pastor’ feature on your website or mobile app wherein newcomers can ask questions with relative anonymity and privacy.
Another way to get them involved without a huge commitment is to get them to serve at a church event. Your church management software ministry tools can help you easily build sustainable, thriving ministries with volunteer- and service-driven tools that ‘insiders’ and newcomers alike can both explore when they want to learn more about how to get involved.
3. Newcomers need to feel reciprocity.
Not all first-time guests will complete a connection card but if they take the time to do it – and this may seem obvious but is often missed – be sure to follow up within a day or two. A simple, personal email thanking them for coming, inviting them back, and sharing the ways they can get involved – without a major commitment – is a great way to keep the door open without it feeling like a full-court press.
PRO TIP: Don’t add their email to the church email list … yet.
4. Newcomers need time to acclimate.
Visiting a new church can feel a lot like visiting a foreign country. Everyone is bustling around, knowing exactly where to go and when to be there, all while knowing each other well and speaking what may seem like an entirely foreign language.
Not everyone is fluent in ‘the blood of the lamb’ or knows that ‘The Club’ is your children’s ministry. While it’s hard to remember to speak in ‘civilian terms’ with your first-time guests, it’s important to recognize that in order to communicate effectively and make them feel welcome, we have to speak in more universal terms that they can understand.
Easter is an incredible time of year not only for Christians, but also for those of us who seek to shepherd all those God brings through our doors.
Your church is going to see a huge surge in first-time visitors so it’s important to be intentional about stewarding everyone who chooses to join you. Moving first-time Easter Sunday visitors to fully engaged members should always be a goal – and your service and stewardship can help keep them there every other Sunday of the year.