Throughout the country, churches of all sizes and denominations often experience a bump in fall church attendance. Congregations inexorably benefit from people wanting to get back into the rhythm of “normal” life after the erratic pace of summertime. Much of the fall church attendance increase is regulars being regular again, to be sure. However, this isn’t universally the case.
The period of growth generally starts in August and ends in early November. Your church has just a couple of months to leverage this fall church attendance boost. Time is of the essence.
- Assess your facility.
Ideally, you should bring in an expert to do a First Impression Evaluation for you. However, any outside input you can get would give you some clarity on how to spend just a few dollars to make a significantly better impression. Very often, the improvements are incredibly inexpensive.
- Identify first-time guests.
You can’t just think there are new faces at your church. You have to know. Not only that, but you have to know who they are. Be intentional about identifying and caring for first-time guests. Charge your greeters with the task of trying to find them. Ask ushers to be on the lookout. Invite first-time guests to an after-service meet-and-greet.
- Follow-up with first-time guests.
The most critical step in maximizing new faces during the fall church attendance bump is to follow up. Most churches either have no formal follow-up process at all or they follow it inconsistently. Have a system and stick to it relentlessly.
- Level your leaders.
If your church lacks a leadership pipeline, you will not be able to fully maximize the fall church attendance bump. People will fall through the cracks. Volunteers will burn out. There will be no structure for identifying, assessing, training, and launching leaders. Stratify your church leadership structure to allow for more oversight, mentorship, and recruiting at every level of ministry.
- Expand community life.
If you experienced a 20% increase during the fall church attendance bump, would you have enough space in small groups or classes if two-thirds of the newcomers wanted to join? Do you have enough small group leaders and hosts? Do you have enough trained teachers for classes? Do you have a strategy for connecting newcomers into community life efforts?
- Be socially strategic.
Many people are afraid to go from going to church on a Sunday morning to attending a small group in a stranger’s home. Be strategic about the kind of social or “fellowship” events you have. Use these events to funnel newcomers into less-formal, less-awkward relationships with group leaders. It will make it so much easier to transition into a home group.
- Leverage your digital presence.
Now is the time to be honest about your website. Is the information up-to-date? Does it need a facelift? Most newcomers start looking for a church online, so be sure your digital front door is ready for the fall church attendance bump.
- Be unselfish.
If you want to show newcomers that you truly value the things you talk about on Sunday mornings, be sure you show it. One great way is to do something for the community that you won’t necessarily get credit or recognition for. Be intentional about leveraging your fall church attendance boost to engage your congregation in an outreach effort that has no ostensible benefit for the church.
- Cast vision.
Where is your church going? What impact are you trying to make? What’s the exciting future that your church is walking towards? Why would someone want to invest their time and money into the ministry of your church? Give people a reason to want to be involved in your church. Paint the picture for the future.
- Follow through.
Whatever you say you’re going to do, do it. Your commitment to follow through on your promises will speak volumes to newcomers, fringe attenders, and regular attenders. Everyone will appreciate it, and it will go a long way in retaining many of those who come during the fall church attendance bump.
This information is courtesy of The Malphurs Group, which helps churches break through barriers to maximize their impact for Christ, www.malphursgroup.com.