Yes, everyone’s still slathering on the sunscreen and eating ice cream and enjoying long summer nights, but fall is just around the corner. And with it will come new schedules and new routines for the people in your community. How can your church get on their calendars?
Set some time aside now to ask a few important questions and then be intentional about completing tasks that will likely increase interest in your church—if not the number of people you see on Sunday! Here are 9 things to do now to pave the way for increased attendance this fall.
1. Check your community’s calendars.
When do schools start and have fall break? Which weekend is Homecoming? Is there a town pumpkin/harvest event? If so, when? These types of events should be on your church’s calendars for a couple reasons. First, you can be at them, meeting and connecting with people, perhaps even volunteering at them. Second, your church’s events should complement these not overlap with them. For example, don’t host a parenting seminar on the same Friday night as a big high school football game. You’ll lose parents, and you won’t find any youth volunteers willing to provide childcare! Why not get a team of volunteers to pass out water bottles at the game instead (with school permission, of course)? Or host a tailgating party in your parking lot?
2. Start advertising your fall event now.
Back to School party? Trunk ’n Treat? Start advertising internally and externally. Get these events on your website and Facebook pages today. Throw a few pics from last year’s events on your Instagram. And set up an Event on Facebook. Yes, time and space is limited in your bulletins and announcements, but make this event a priority if you want it to be priority in people’s schedules. Give your people time to find out about the event details and then invite their friends and family. In the weeks leading up to the event, have Sunday School teachers send kids home with promotional fliers.
3. Enlist, train and excite your volunteers.
Are your volunteer teams filled for the fall? Small group leaders confirmed? If not, now is the time to fill the holes instead of asking for more involvement at the last minute. Pick a Sunday and talk about the need and the importance of serving from the pulpit. Perhaps share a short video about the power of volunteering during church. Then make signing up easy and quick in one spot after services or online. Be sure to thank people for their commitment!
Once they’ve signed on, you don’t want to take up too much of your volunteers’ time with training, but the very act of hosting a training session sends the message to people that this is important! Have many, if not all, church leaders present, adding legitimacy. For sure provide the logistics on volunteering, where to go, what to do, what to say, etc., but perhaps more importantly, share the life-changing power of volunteering for the volunteer and those being served. It’s God at work! It’s fulfilling the mission of your church and the Church! Volunteers should be equipped and excited. Consider having someone share a story of how serving or being served through your church has changed a life.
4. Pass out something cold.
Capitalize on the remaining warm temps and give away something refreshing and cold…just because. Wear T-shirts and/or name tags letting people know who you are and what church you come from. Hit a popular park and give away bottled water. Pass out popsicles at a playground or ball field, a well-traveled bike trail, picnic area or beach. Visit your local fire department with all the fixings for ice cream sundaes. This doesn’t require a lot of planning, time or money. But it does get your church’s name in the hands of your neighbors via something cold on a hot day—and they may remember it come September.
5. Build hype for Back to Church Sunday.
Thousands of churches across the world plan to participate in Back to Church Sunday on September 15, encouraging their people to invite friends and family back to church. You can, too! On average, churches—even smaller ones—see a 25% increase in attendance on Back to Church Sunday. Get a plan to get your unchurched neighbors inside your doors. For ideas, resources, testimonials, invites, banners and more on equipping your congregation, check out:
6. Spread your sermon.
Commit to sharing your sermons (or part of them) in one new way. For some, this may be posting online in blog form. For others, perhaps it’s streaming live or using them as a podcast. Once you’ve decided how to share your sermons differently, learn the ins and outs of doing it that way. Practice. Find out what works best. Iron out all the kinks so that by the time your fall sermon series kicks off, you’re ready to go.
7. Refresh your kids min rooms.
You have a few weeks before your halls will likely hear the pitter patter of more little ones. How can you make your rooms really sparkle, and subsequently, impress parents who will be dropping their kids off? Do you need fresh coats of colorful paint? New rugs? New signage? Take inventory of your supplies. Get rid of broken crayons, dry markers, and hard play doh. Purchase new materials. Do a deep clean. Then post pictures of the fun updates on your Facebook page or Instagram to garner excitement.
8. Increase SEO.
Maybe you already have someone who’s ahead of the ballgame on updating your website and search engine optimization. Awesome. But you might also be thinking, search engine what? If so, now’s the time to take a quick look at how Google ranks your church and then make a few tweaks to your website in efforts of boosting traffic this fall. Start with some general reconnaissance. If someone Googled “small church near me,” where does your church fall in the results? What about “contemporary church in Smallville?” Or “kid-friendly church in Smallville?” What words or phrases are people typing into Google when searching for a church like yours? It’s those words and phrases you want to take back to your website and use everywhere you can—without sounding weird. Use it as a header. Include in copy in the “About Us” section. Include in your web page title tags (ex: Contemporary Church in Smallville—Home; Contemporary Church in Smallville—About Us). These changes can be done by those less than tech-savvy, and they can only increase your Google ranking! (Need a new website – check out Outreach sites)
Individually, as a staff, corporately as a church—pray! For courage to invite people on Back to Church Sunday. For your volunteers and the people they will serve this fall. For the Holy Spirit to move in the hearts of your neighbors and the streets of your city. For wisdom on how to reach more people. For the children who will enter your hallways for the first time—that they will feel God’s love for them. For your church to fulfill its mission!